California Bill SB 131, the bill that USA Swimming hired a lobbying firm to oppose, has passed the Assembly on Wednesday.
This was the bill that eliminates the statute of limitations in civil courts seeking monetary damages in sexual abuse cases, meaning that when passed, a victim can bring a damages case for the next year, regardless of age. (Read more here). This was seen largely as a bill intended for victims of sexual abuse to sue employers that they feel failed to protect them. Among those now open to civil suits are USA Swimming, the Boy Scouts of America, the YMCA, and the Catholic Church.
According to Consumer Attorneys of California’s Nancy Peverini, lobbyists hired by several organizations, including USA Swimming and the Catholic Church, claimed it was a bill “only to help ‘greedy trials lawyers.’” The Catholic Church ran ads on CNN in Sacramento, where the assembly was meeting.
Many non-profit organizations said that the bill unfairly targeted private organizations, as public schools and other government agencies will not be susceptible to the bill.
The bill succeeded in advancing from committee on a second try on August 21st, and now the bill, sponsored by Jim Beall, has advanced through the Assembly.
The bill will now go back to the Senate, for the process of “concurrence of amendments.” The bill then goes to the Governor Jerry Brown, who has 12 days to sign, approve without signing, or veto the bill. If the governor vetoes the bill, his veto can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in both the Assembly and the Senate.
The bill can be tracked here (though note that bill tracking is always on a day-or-two lag).