Yesterday, the Louisiana Supreme Court held oral arguments in T.S. v. Congregation of Holy Cross Southern Province, Inc., a case expected to determine whether countless childhood sexual abuse survivors will get a second chance at justice under Louisiana’s Act 322.
Attorneys Frank Lamothe, Kristi Schubert and Julien Lamothe from the Lamothe Firm, which currently represents a client who claims he was assaulted by the same church figure at the center of the T.S. case, as well as many other adult survivors of child sexual abuse, attended the oral argument.
What You Need to Know
The act, which Louisiana’s legislature passed unanimously in June 2021, gives survivors a three-year window to file civil lawsuits for damages — even if originally-applicable statutes of limitation had expired. Since the act’s passage, various Catholic entities have challenged the constitutionality of the law’s “lookback window” provision, which allows claimants to sue regardless of when their experiences occurred.
Lamothe Law Firm Founder, Frank Lamothe
The Lamothe Firm’s founding partner, Frank Lamothe, said how the court decides T.S. will have massive implications on child abuse survivors who originally confronted “draconian” filing obstacles on their way to obtaining justice.
“Many of the childhood sexual abuse survivors who will be affected by this decision lost their chance at justice while they were still children because laws at the time required them to file lawsuits within one year of the sexual abuse,” said Frank Lamothe. “This means that if a child was sexually abused at five years old, they would have needed to file by the time they turned six, or they would forever lose their chance for justice. It is now well known that these harsh time limits were unfair and unreasonable because research shows that the average age a childhood sexual abuse survivor first comes forward is 52.”
Lamothe Law Firm Trial Attorney, Kristi Schubert
Kristi Schubert, a sexual abuse trial attorney at Lamothe, added that arguments from Catholic organizations have been inconsistent with prior court decisions, saying they are using the antiquated time limits as a “shield” to block childhood sexual abuse survivors from seeking justice.
“The defendants claim that Louisiana’s legislature does not have the power to revive previously time-barred abuse claims because doing so would take away their right to use that defense,” Schubert said. “But the United States Supreme Court ruled over 100 years ago that laws like the Act 322’s lookback window do not violate the Constitution, and that legislatures do have the power to revive previously time-barred claims.”
Kristi Schubert Featured in Press on the Louisiana Supreme Court Arguments
Is state law reviving old child abuse claims constitutional? La. Supreme Court to decide by David Hammer, WWLTV.
Kristi Schubert was featured in this WWLTV article by David Hammer.
“Kristi Schubert, an attorney who filed the first lawsuit under the lookback window in 2021 and represents dozens of similar claims, said it makes no sense to argue that an old deadline that forced a 5-year-old victim of sexual abuse to file a lawsuit at age 6 or lose that right forever could not be fixed by the Legislature.”
“’Most states that have addressed this exact question have determined that these types of laws — revival cases — do not violate the Constitution,’ Schubert said. ‘But what we’re really talking here about is the Louisiana Constitution. And there is nothing in the Louisiana Constitution that says that the right to say ‘too late to sue me’ can’t be taken away.’”
Schubert, Frank Lamothe and Julien Lamothe also joined adult survivors of child abuse gathered outside the Supreme Court building in the French Quarter before and after the oral arguments.