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New York Signs Legislation Relating To A Civil Cause Of Action For Human Trafficking

Former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.672/A.3186) which allows victims of human trafficking to recover actual, compensatory and punitive damages or other appropriate relief. This legislation also amends current law that requires an action to be commenced within 10 years of victimization to state an action can be commenced within 15 years after victimization has occurred. 
"Human trafficking is one of the most abhorrent crimes a person can commit. Victims of these heinous acts deserve swift criminal and civil justice executed in a manner that respects and adapts to the mental trauma they have experienced," said the former Governor. "No longer will victims of human trafficking be forced to cover the financial costs that accompany taking their traffickers to court. This legislation ensures that survivors are not left financially strained while they work to recover mentally and physically. New York stands with victims of human trafficking and applauds them on their bravery in confronting their attackers so that others may be spared from these unfathomable experiences." 
This legislation also states that if a victim was a minor when trafficked, the statute of limitations is 15 years from when the survivor reaches the age of majority. Disability that prevents or makes it impracticable to file a suit, such as being a minor, lacking legal capacity to make decisions, or other incapacity or incompetence, tolls the statute of limitations. Trauma, cultural and linguistic isolation or the inability to access services as a result of trafficking may also toll the statute of limitations. 
Senator James Sanders Jr. said, "Although this law will not take away the deep-rooted pain and emotional scars sustained by victims of human trafficking, at least it will give them expanded opportunities for some closure and compensation towards making them whole and moving on with their lives." 
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said, "This new law extends the statute of limitations to 15 years for a survivor of human trafficking to bring a civil court action against the perpetrator or anyone who knowingly profited from these despicable crimes by adding 5 years to the existing 10 year statute. In addition, this new law goes even further to protect those who were trafficked as minors or those with disabilities, allowing them an additional 12 years to bring civil action. It also expands the type of compensation survivors may be entitled to from just the recovery of damages and reasonable legal fees to include actual, compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, or any combination thereof. Nothing can undo or make right the experience of survivors of human trafficking.  However, this new law will allow for some form of remuneration and pursuit of justice should survivors seek it. I am grateful to Senator Sanders for his partnership and to Governor Cuomo for signing this into law."