New Vermont law waives time limit for physical abuse suits

Associated Press [New York NY]

May 13, 2021

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has signed into law a measure that lifts the statute of limitations in civil cases of childhood physical abuse.

Scott signed the bill on Wednesday.

The new law builds on legislation passed two years ago that ended the statute of limitations for civil cases of past childhood sexual abuse. The proposal was pushed by a group of people who say they suffered physical abuse while living at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, which closed in 1974.

In an email, Ellen Kane, a spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, said they had “no comment at this time as we are not sure how this is all going to play out. However, we continue to pray for all victims of sexual and physical abuse.”

The legislation defines physical abuse as any act that when it was committed would have been considered aggravated assault.

The legislation does not apply to criminal cases.

The legislation would allow damages against an entity that “employed, supervised, or had responsibility for the person allegedly committing the physical abuse only if there is a finding of gross negligence on the part of the entity.”