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Claim of sex abuse in Massachusetts raises multi-state questions

The long-term consequences of sexual abuse can lead to significant monetary damages claims, as a recent lawsuit filed against trustees and former trustees of Deerfield Academy demonstrates. The suit, brought in federal court by a former student of the school who now resides in another state, seeks $10 million for a pattern of claimed abuse that allegedly spanned three years while the plaintiff was as young as 15.The lawsuit in question raises some interesting points from a legal perspective. These include: Choice of forum considerations:В Although the alleged abuse took place in Massachusetts, in addition to the plaintiff residing in another state today he has filed the lawsuit in a third state. This may be connected to the residence of one or more of the defendants, as well as with statute of limitations concerns. States have different lengths of time within which to timely file a lawsuit for sexual abuse claims, and some states also extend the statute of limitations when the alleged acts involved a minor. In this case, the claimed sexual abuse took place in the 1980s.Claims involving a deceased alleged wrongdoer:В The lawsuit claims that two of the defendants negligently supervised the plaintiff by placing him in the custody of a predatory teacher during sporting event road trips. That teacher died in 2007. The lawsuit, however, names as defendants the current trustees of Deerfield Academy as well as the two former trustees accused of negligent supervision.Significance of damages claims:В The plaintiff’s claimed injuries include non-economic damages based on claims of depression, panic attacks, suicidal impulses and abuse of alcohol and other non-illegal drugs. Nonetheless, despite the indirect nature of the claimed injuries, the amount sought in damages is still in the millions of dollars.Child sexual abuse claims can be complex to investigate and to try in court, and as this case indicates can involve multi-state jurisdiction as a result of possibly extended statutes of limitations and the relocation of the plaintiff from where the abuse allegedly took place to another state. Anyone contemplating such a lawsuit should work closely with a personal injury law firm that is experienced with sexual abuse cases to ensure that these and other legal issues related to this area of law are adequately addressed.Source: Boston Herald, “$10M suit cites alleged sex abuse by ex-Deerfield Academy teacher,” Laurel J. Sweet, June 30, 2015

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