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Dem lawmakers call for action on bill to remove cap on damages for sexual assault after federal judge dismisses Strauss abuse cases

Say all survivors of sexual violence deserve a path to justice
September 23, 2021
C. Allison Russo News

State Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) called for action on  House Bill (HB) 199, their legislation to prevent victims of rape or assault from being denied full compensation of their damages awarded by a jury, after a federal judge Wednesday dismissed all outstanding Strauss abuse cases against Ohio State University, citing the expired statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims. 

“The dismissal of the Strauss abuse cases is such a shameful disregard of the justice these survivors of sexual abuse deserve. House Democrats have introduced bills to end the statute of limitations and to remove the cap on damages for rape. Both of these bills are incredibly necessary to ensure the courts have the opportunity to rectify the horrific abuse survivors have endured.” said Rep. Boggs.             

“Trauma—especially the kind of trauma experienced by those Strauss abused—doesn’t have a statute of limitations,” said Rep. Russo.  “Therefore, I fail to see why our legal system should have a statute of limitations or damages cap for such horrific acts.  The dismissal of the Strauss abuse cases based on statute of limitations is a horrible failure of our justice system.  House Democrats have introduced legislation to end the statute of limitations, and we’ve also introduced legislation to remove the damages cap for survivors of sexual violence.  We should hold hearings and pass these bills immediately so survivors can receive the justice and redress they deserve.”

HB 199 would require Ohio to remove the cap on damages awarded to survivors of sexual violence. 

The need for this legislation became apparent after Jessica Simpkins, who was a teenager when she was raped by her pastor, was awarded $3.6 million in non-economic damages by a jury only to have the amount reduced to $500,000 under a 2005 tort reform law. 

In his dissent Justice Pfeifer stated, “It turns out that ‘tort reform’ (and the justices who sanctioned it) also ensured that rapists and those who enable them will not have to pay the full measure of damages they cause — even if they rape a child.”

HB 199 had its first hearing in the House Civil Justice Committee in April and now awaits further action.