Louisiana Supreme Court Decision on Child Abuse Claims

by Frank E. Lamothe, III

On June 27, 2023, the Louisiana Supreme Court released its opinion in T.S. v. Congregation of Holy Cross Southern Province, Inc. The highly anticipated decision vacated the district court’s holding declaring Act 322’s revival of previously prescribed child sex abuse claims as unconstitutional. It ruled that the district court should not have issued a ruling on the constitutionality of Act 322 because the version of Act 322 under which T.S.’s claim was originally filed only applied to claims where the abuse occurred after 1993.

The Louisiana Supreme Court remanded the case to allow T.S. to amend his pleadings to allege Act 386 applies to his claims, which amended Act 322 to clarify that the revival window applied to all previously prescribed claims of child sex abuse, not just those that occurred after 1993.

Act 322, 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.

In 2022, the Louisiana legislature amended Act 322 with the passage of Louisiana Act 386 in response to some courts misinterpreting the Act to only apply the Lookback Window for child sex abuse survivors who were abused after 1993.

The Lamothe Firm’s founding partner, Frank Lamothe, supports the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision to vacate the district court’s ruling that Act 322 is unconstitutional, but wishes the Supreme Court ultimately decided the issue of Act 322 and the Act 386 amendment on constitutional grounds.

“As Justice Weimer noted in his dissent, this is only delaying the inevitable,” said Frank Lamothe. “This means thousands of child sex abuse survivors will have to wait longer to know whether they can seek justice or not.”

Kristi Shubert, a sexual abuse trial attorney at the Lamothe Firm, added that the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision is perplexing given that the Louisiana Legislature clarified the intent of Act 322 with the passage of Act 386 that all child sex abuse claims are revived, not just those that occurred after 1993.

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