What New York's Child Victims Act Means for Public Schools

The new Child Victims Act is expected to have a profound and long-lasting impact on public school systems.

Understanding New York's Child Victims Act

Anastasia M. McCarthy

February 20, 2019 01:03 PM

Last week, the Child Victims Act became law in the State of New York. Although the act’s origins are firmly rooted in the abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church for decades, it is anticipated that the CVA will have a far-reaching and profound impact on nearly all institutions, both public and private, that work with children. Much of the current media focus has been on the new, extended statute of limitations that gives victims of childhood sexual abuse until age 55 to commence a civil lawsuit as well as the revival period that provides a one year window for people now over age 55 (or for those who prior civil lawsuits were dismissed as untimely) to revive their claims in civil court. But beyond these new limitations-period changes, the CVA makes additional changes to the law that will drastically impact the way municipal defendants, including public school districts, investigate and defend themselves in negligent supervision and/or negligent hiring actions arising under the new law.

Changes to the Notice of Claim Requirements of the Municipal Law

Before the CVA, any person intending to file a personal injury lawsuit against a municipal entity was required, as a pre-requisite, to first file a notice of claim within 90 days of the injury-inducing incident. Generally, the notices had to contain information identifying the injured person(s) seeking redress; the nature of the claim; the time, manner, and place in which the claim arose; and the items of damage or injury(ies) sustained as of the date of the notice. The entire point of the notice requirement was to allow the municipal entity an opportunity to investigate the merits of the claim while the information and evidence were still likely to exist, and further, to provide the municipality with an opportunity to resolve or settle the potential claim before the commencement of the formal litigation process. Interestingly, New York’s courts frequently distinguished the notice of claim requirement from a traditional statute of limitations by categorizing it as a “condition precedent” to a lawsuit as opposed to a statutory requirement requiring the commencement of an action within a certain amount of time. Even before the CVA, the law attempted to “level the playing field,” particularly where minor-claimants were involved, by allowing injured persons in some instances to file a late notice of claim where the injured person came forward beyond the 90 day window, but in an otherwise reasonable time period, and could demonstrate notice of the occurrence or events to the defendant.

One of the most important provisions of the municipal law’s pre-suit notice of claim provisions is the opportunity for the municipal entity to take the testimony of the injured person through a proceeding known as a 50-h examination. A 50-h examination is essentially a pre-suit deposition, wherein both parties have the opportunity to gain more insight about the extent of the claimant’s injuries and the incident that is said to have caused those injuries. From a claimant’s perspective, it is an opportunity to convey the strength of his or her case and, ultimately, to showcase the fact that the claim would best be settled prior to the commencement of litigation; from a defendant’s perspective it is an opportunity to obtain and preserve important evidence that might otherwise fade with time and to determine the veracity and merit of the claims being asserted.

But beyond these new limitations-period changes, the CVA makes additional changes to the law that will drastically impact the way municipal defendants, including public school districts, investigate and defend themselves in negligent supervision and/or negligent hiring actions arising under the new law.

The CVA completely exempts claims of sexual abuse (as defined by the act) from the notice of claim provision of the general municipal law and, consequently, completely eradicates the opportunity for a 50-h examination. Indeed, a claimant may now, until he or she reaches the age of 55, completely bypass the notice of claim and proceed directly to filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Although the full impact of this change in the law is yet to be determined, the obvious results are twofold—first, the eradication of the notice requirement will clearly impact both record retention policies and the way claims are ultimately investigated once a municipality becomes aware of their existence. Not only do memories fade with time, but witnesses move, and in some cases, die. Moreover, most school districts in the State of New York retain their student and employee records only for a limited amount of time. The evidentiary challenges of the extended statute of limitations and revival period will indeed present a challenge for plaintiffs and defendants, public or private, moving forward.

Second, the opportunity for pre-suit resolution of sexual tort claims will also be hampered by the new law. Without the opportunity to directly speak to the claimant about his or her claims, and the extent and severity of the injuries asserted, it is unlikely that pre-suit settlement offers will be easily obtained. Instead, it is more likely that the parties will be required to engage in arduous and lengthy discovery in order to truly assess the strength of each party’s claims and/or defenses.

Trial Preference for Revival Claims

It seems likely that the most difficult cases to both prosecute and defend, at least from an evidentiary standpoint, will be those claims raised by people closest to age 55 as well as those made during the upcoming one-year revival window. Nevertheless, the CVA provides that these “revival claims” be provided trial preference by the court system, leaving the parties, and the court, very little time to grapple with the evidentiary challenges inherent in older sexual tort claims.

How Can Municipalities and Schools Protect Themselves?

Best practices in the investigation and documentation of sexual abuse claims are sure to change drastically over the next several years. First and foremost, it is critical that school administrators create an atmosphere that destigmatizes the reporting of sexual abuse for currently enrolled students since earlier reporting will allow schools to more thoroughly investigate and take appropriate action. It is also imperative that local school districts revisit their current record retention policies and plan on maintaining student and employment records in a central location for a longer period of time than is currently required.

For students already outside of the school system who initiate lawsuits beyond the former statutory period (for public schools, 1 year and 90 days after the plaintiff’s 18th birthday), it will be important to immediately develop a strategy with an insurance carrier and/or defense counsel to thoroughly investigate the claim—this means extensive interviewing of potential witnesses and a search for, and preservation of, any and all records related to the individuals involved.


Anastasia M. McCarthy is an attorney at Hurwitz & Fine, P.C. An associate in the firm’s Litigation Department, she defends business and municipal clients in liability defense matters and regularly handles claims against retailers, schools, property owners and employers.

Related Articles


Making an Impact

by John Fields

Morelli Law Firm has changed countless lives through its transformative results.

Three men in suits against New York skyline


A Street Fight in the Bronx

by Adam Leitman Bailey

Adam Leitman Bailey’s firm helped settle a Bronx brawl over land between two parties and brought victory against a long-standing powerful family in New York.

Warehouse in New York at night

The Tragic Limitations of New York’s Outdated Wrongful Death Law

by David Scher

New York might be a progressive state in many respects, but its wrongful death law is itself a regressive tragedy—essentially the same statute first passed in the mid-1800s—that prolongs and deepens grieving families’ suffering. This must change.

Grieving person sitting on park bench in front of ocean and storm


Heroes Among Men: How Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Saved Lives of the Lifesaving

by Rebecca Blackwell

When a 911 Center in New York City was put in danger, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. went to work against the unlawful and hazardous actions of a developer whose construction threatened the peace and safety of all who worked for the Fortune 500 company.

Danger construction site no trespassing sign on fence


Adam Leitman Bailey Saves Upper East Cooperative From Forced NYU Combination With Neighboring University Building

by Rebecca Blackwell

When a New York resident of an iconic building was faced with a potentially devastating renovation to his beloved home, powerhouse real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey tightened the knot on the loophole others said didn’t exist.

Large brownstone building with blue sky above in New York City


How To Run a Board Meeting

by Adam Leitman Bailey

Adam Leitman Bailey explains how using Robert's Rules of Order can assist with effective and productive board meetings in real estate matters.

Several people sitting in chairs around boardroom table


The Wolf Near Wall Street

by Rebecca Blackwell

When tensions among shared real estate owners reached their tipping point, Adam Leitman Bailey P.C. stepped in and solved a modern issue with an ancient remedy.

Mortgage documents on desk


What is The Grieving Families Act (2022)?

by Michael L. Taub

Best Lawyers honoree Michael Taub explains The Grieving Families Act and what it means for wrongful death and malpractice cases in New York.

Image of grieving person on blue background


Results That Make a Difference

by John Fields

Thomas Moore and Judith Livingston continue to secure some of the largest verdicts in New York state for their injured clients.

Male and female lawyer in blue suits

Destiny Fulfilled

by Sara Collin

Was Angela Reddock-Wright destined to become a lawyer? It sure seems that way. Yet her path was circuitous. This accomplished employment attorney, turned mediator, arbitrator and ADR specialist nonpareil discusses her career, the role of attorneys in society, the new world of post-pandemic work and why new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson represents the future.

Interview with Lawyer Angela Reddock-Wright

Ketanji Brown Jackson Becomes Joe Biden’s Nominee for Vacant SCOTUS Seat

by Gregory Sirico

President Joe Biden has nominated former lawyer Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Biden Nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson

East Side Story

by Adam Leitman Bailey

The made-for-Hollywood tale of a 16-year legal tussle to help a dedicated band of Manhattan “homesteaders” take ownership of the buildings they had moved into and begun to rehab.

Rosario Dawson's Family Fight for NY Building

Biden’s History-Making SCOTUS Nominees

by Gregory Sirico

The promise of the first Black female Supreme Court Justice in history is on the verge of reality as the top three candidates for the most recent vacant seat are announced.

Biden Promises First Black Female SCOTUS Pick

Results That Make a Difference

by John Fields

Thomas Moore and Judith Livingston continue to secure some of the largest verdicts in New York state for their injured clients.

Largest Injury Verdicts in New York State

Patrick A. Mullin, Esq. - Annual Report

by Patrick A. Mullin, Esq.

Veteran federal criminal defense attorney Patrick A. Mullin, Esq. provides an annual report of his victories in high-stakes criminal and tax matters.

Patrick A. Mullen Annual Report of Defense

A Reputation for Success

by Justin Smulison

Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” David Perecman on his 40-plus years representing injury victims.

A 40 Year Career in Personal Injury

Trending Articles

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power

by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

The U.S. Best Lawyers Voting Season Is Open

by Best Lawyers

The voting season for the 31st edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and the 5th edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America is officially underway, and we are offering some helpful advice to this year’s voters.

Golden figures of people standing on blue surface connected by white lines

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

by Best Lawyers

The 2021 Global Issue features top legal talent from the most recent editions of Best Lawyers and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch worldwide.

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

The Upcycle Conundrum

by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2024 Launch

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce The Best Lawyers in Australia™ for 2023, including the top lawyers and law firms from Australia.

Australian Parliament beside water at sunset

Best Lawyers Voting Is Now Open

by Best Lawyers

Voting has begun in several countries across the globe, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Below we offer dates, details and answers to voting-related questions to assist with the voting process.

Hands holding smartphone with five stars above phone

Inflation Escalation

by Ashley S. Wagner

Inflation and rising costs are at the forefront of everyone’s mind as we enter 2023. The current volatile market makes it more important than ever to understand the rent escalation clauses in current and future commercial lease agreements.

Suited figure in front of rising market and inflated balloon

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers

by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

A Celebration of Excellence: The Best Lawyers in Canada 2024 Awards

by Best Lawyers

As we embark on the 18th edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™, we are excited to highlight excellence and top legal talent across the country.

Abstract image of red and white Canada flag in triangles

Presenting the 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide

by Best Lawyers

The 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide is now live and includes recognitions for all Best Lawyers family law awards. Read below and explore the legal guide.

Man entering home and hugging two children in doorway

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees

by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots