COLUMBUS, Ohio – In 2005, the Ohio General Assembly passed tort reform which limited financial judgments in court cases. Specifically, the law limits the amount a court or jury can award a victim for “non-monetary” losses such as pain and suffering.
Now the Ohio Supreme Court is considering whether that law is unconstitutional as it applies to people who were sexually assaulted as children. Arguments were made in the Supreme Court that the tort reform laws curtail the rights of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and undermine a jury’s constitutional role in deciding cases.
The case has drawn interest both statewide and nationally from groups backing the current law and from those supporting a change to it. Among those backing the law are many business groups who are worried about potential business impacts if an exception is made for victims of sexual abuse. Also arguing in support of the law is Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
While acknowledging the law may be “foolish policy” as it applies to a child victim of sexual abuse, Attorney General Yost nonetheless argues that the law should be upheld. He urged that just because the law is foolish does not make it unconstitutional and that any change in the law should come from lawmakers, not the court.
To date, the Ohio General Assembly has not demonstrated any willingness to lift the boundaries and restrictions it has placed on courts and juries.
Research has shown that survivors of sexual assault, particularly those who suffered a sexual assault as a child, have long-term mental health consequences including depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicide attempts.
Our firm believes that this law shields rapists and pedophiles. While such perpetrators can face life-long prison sentences, lobbyists for insurance companies and businesses have worked to make victims of abuse have limited recovery rights, no matter how many times the child is sexually assaulted by an individual. We encourage you to contact your state representative and ask that they support a change in this law.