New Amendment to the Gender Motivated Violence Act
The Gender Motivated Violence Act (GMVA) was passed into law in New York City and became effective on October 16, 2018. This Act provides a civil remedy for victims of gender-motivated violence. The law is a city code and does not cover all of New York State. The violent act must have occurred within the five boroughs of New York City.
The GMVA allowed for a seven-year period after the gender-motivated violence was committed in which the victim could file a civil suit (but not bring criminal charges) against the perpetrator. The GMVA allows victims to recover compensation and hold the perpetrator accountable for the violence they experienced.
On January 9, 2022, an amendment to this Act was enacted by the New York City council. This law will allow survivors of gender-motivated violence whose claims were previously time-barred to file a lawsuit against their abuser during a two-year lookback period and extends the original statutory filing period to nine years.
The two-year lookback window begins on March 1, 2023. According to the final version of the bill, the new amendment will temporarily lift the statute of limitations on gender-based violence cases. During the lookback window, survivors of violence that was perpetrated on the basis of gender can recover damages from their abuser, even if it has been years or decades since the assault. The lookback window will end on February 28, 2025.
The GMVA defines “crimes of violence” as “an act or series of acts that would constitute a misdemeanor or felony against the person as defined in state or federal law.” Under the GMVA, anyone who wishes to bring a civil lawsuit against their abuser must be able to show that the conduct presented a “serious risk of physical injury.” The plaintiff will also need to show that the act or acts of violence occurred, at least in part, due to the abuser’s hostility against the plaintiff’s gender. The plaintiff must also prove that they were injured as a result of the violence.
Gender-motivated violence can take many forms and may include virtually any type of assault that was carried out because of a person’s gender, including assault and sexual assault. A significant caveat to the new law is that victims of gender-based violence can bring a civil claim against their abuser even if their abuser has not been prosecuted for their crimes or convicted in criminal court.
The GMVA amendment also gives victims of gender-based violence nine years to bring a lawsuit against their abuser. Before the GMVA and its amendment, tort claims in New York, such as civil lawsuits for assault, had a one-year statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations runs out, victims typically have no legal recourse.
Many survivors of sexual violence either never report or delay reporting abuse for a variety of reasons, including fear of retaliation. The new nine-year statute of limitations will remain in place after the lookback window has expired.
Another provision in the GMVA amendment allows victims to hold not just the individual who harmed them but also negligent institutions that perpetrated or failed to stop gender-based violence accountable for gross negligence or willfully ignoring the abuse. Survivors who are currently time-barred must wait until the lookback window begins in March 2023 to bring a claim against a negligent institution.
However, victims of gender-motivated assault who are not yet time-barred from pursuing a civil claim against their abuser can file a lawsuit against a negligent institution under the GMVA right away.
The GMVA follows in the footsteps of the Child Victims Act (CVA), which was passed by the New York legislature in 2019. The CVA extended the statute of limitations on child sexual assault cases and established a one-year lookback window during which time any person of any age who was previously time-barred could now bring a lawsuit against their abuser. The lookback window was extended due to COVID-19 but has now passed.
The extended statute of limitations established by the CVA allowed victims of child abuse to bring a lawsuit against their abuser as long as they were aged 55 or younger. Individuals over the age of 55 have no legal recourse (though the Adult Survivors Act, which has not been passed into law, aims to change that). Unlike the CVA, there is no age requirement nor age limit for individuals who wish to file a lawsuit under the GMVA.
It is also important to note that any acts of violence that were not perpetrated due to the victim’s gender are not covered by the GMVA or its amendment. Victims must demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that an act of violence occurred due to gender and that it would have been charged as a crime even if the perpetrator was never charged or tried before.
Damages that Can Be Recovered Through the Gender-Motivated Violence Act
Under the GMVA § 10-1104, any individual bringing a civil lawsuit against someone they allege committed gender-based violence upon them could be eligible to recover:
- Compensatory and punitive damages
- Injunctive and declaratory relief
- Attorney fees and expenses
- Other types of relief as decided by the court
If you are a survivor of gender-motivated violence in New York City and you plan to take legal action against your abuser, it is crucial to hire a competent attorney to represent you, defend your rights, and advocate for your personal interests. Not only can an experienced attorney offer you pertinent legal advice and help you navigate the legal process, but a skilled lawyer can also help you maximize your potential compensation.
Contact a New York Gender-Based Violence Lawyer Today
Were you harmed due to an act of gender-based violence? If so, contact the New York civil litigation attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP to discuss the details of your case and learn more about your rights under the GMVA. We have the knowledge and experience to help you hold your abuser accountable in civil court and will work tirelessly to help you seek a fair settlement or verdict.
We understand how traumatic it can be to be victimized based on your gender. Whether the statute of limitations has already passed in your case, and you are hoping to bring a lawsuit during the lookback window, or you are not presently time-barred and wish to hold a negligent person or institution accountable for gender-based violence, we have the resources to build a strong case on your behalf.
Contact Hach & Rose, LLP today at (212) 779-0057 for a free consultation.