GA 2022 Legislative Session: Child Victim Protection Act

The recent settlement reached by the Darlington School and 20 survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Roger Stifflemire, a former teacher and dorm parent at the school, provided compensation and some closure to the survivors and their families. The settlement also confirmed Penn Law’s continued commitment to be a voice for victims. 

Darren Penn

This case is one of the many we have worked on in recent years that has strengthened our resolve to change the laws in Georgia. Not only must we have policies in place to protect children, but we must also have legislation that allows survivors a chance to legally confront their abusers and hold entities accountable.

At Penn Law, we have been working with Georgia legislators to pass the Child Victim Protection Act (HB 109). The bill would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to recover damages if the abuse took place on or after July 1, 2015. The proposed bill has several stipulations including: 

The plaintiff must be under 23 years old or sue for damages within four years from the date the plaintiff knew the suffered injuries resulting from the abuse

A plaintiff who is between 23 and 38 years old may bring civil action for recovery of damages sufferers as a sresult of childhood esual abuse

The civil action may be against a public or private organzation or the individual alleged to have committed the act of childhood sexual abuse at any time during a one-year window

This legislation is needed to allow victims of these crimes to sue their accuser(s) and the organizations that failed to protect them. Georgia is one of the last states in the U.S. to provide protection to victims of childhood sexual abuse. No new bill to protect the survivors has been passed since 2015 although many bills have been introduced to the Georgia legislature. 

In the 2022 Georgia legislative session, we will continue to advocate for legislation that protects survivors of childhood sexual abuse. 

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Darlington School Settles Sexual Abuse Suits

Joint Settlement Statement

Darlington School and the law firms of Penn Law, LLC and Paul Mones, P.C., the firms jointly representing 20 survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Roger Stifflemire, announce that a settlement has been reached that will provide compensation to the survivors, serve to strengthen Darlington moving forward, and help prevent anything like this from happening again.

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BSA Settlement: An Imperfect Solution

On February 18, 2020, Boy Scouts of America filed bankruptcy following an avalanche of sex-abuse claims from about 84,000 survivors. After over a year in bankruptcy and three unsuccessful settlement attempts, the Boy Scouts and local Councils reached a settlement agreement with The Creditor’s Committee (TCC), the Coalition for Abused Scouts, and the Future Claims Representative.

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Courts Reopening and Addressing Case Backlog

On March 14, 2020, a Court order from the Georgia Supreme Court immediately closed all Georgia courts. Since then 15 subsequent orders have extended that emergency declaration, putting the Courts calendar in complete disarray and delaying civil trials for at least two to three years. The final judicial emergency order is set to expire on June 30, 2021. 

Sachi Cole
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Safety and Accountability

This week Fisher-Price recalled its 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Glider and the 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother after four infants died from suffocation after rolling over in the products’ seats. The infants were reportedly placed in the soother unrestrained on their backs and were later found on their stomachs. The Soother and Glider can rock babies back and forth or side to side. 

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Lawsuits Filed Against BD Bard and Sterigenics by Atlanta Attorneys Representing Almost 200 Clients Diagnosed with Cancer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Mitch Leff, (404) 861-4769, mitch@leffassociates.com Kim Speece, (404) 849-6579, kim@leffassociates.com Lawsuits

ATLANTA, Sept. 8, 2020 — A group of Atlanta-area attorneys announced today it has filed new lawsuits against medical sterilization companies BD Bard and Sterigenics. The claims were filed in State Court in Gwinnett (BD Bard and Sterigenics) and Cobb County (Sterigenics). The initial filings are on behalf of a small number of the almost 200 clients diagnosed with cancer who are represented by the team.

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Penn Law Supports the Georgia Rights Alliance

The 2021 Georgia legislative session is expected to include a heated debate on tort reform. Several bills in the upcoming General Assembly will likely include revisions to Georgia’s current legal procedures. Penn Law supports the Georgia Rights Alliance (GRA), a group of Georgia citizens committed to protecting the Constitutional rights of all Americans. The GRA is working to defend against corporate lobbyists, insurance companies, and big corporations that attempt to imbalance the scales of justice within our court system in their favor .

We believe that every Georgian deserves the right to seek justice in a court of law against the person or corporation that wronged them. More than 30 lobbying organizations are expected to combine forces for the purpose of passing tort reform legislation during the 2021 session. Proposed bills are projected to seek limitations such as increasing the burden of proof for certain injured individuals in proving their claims and capping awards for punitive damages, which are designed to punish persons or entities whose conduct is considered egregiously negligent or intentional.

Now is the time to educate Georgians and to raise awareness of these potential changes. As a voice for victims, we believe that every citizen should have the ability to fight the person or organization that harmed them in a court of law where they will be held accountable for their actions.

Penn Law supports the Georgia Rights Alliance, and we recommend visiting their website at  https://georgiarightsalliance.org to sign up for more information and to find your legislative representative. Join the GRA Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GARightsAlliance/ to stay up-to-date on these issues. Lastly, we urge all to write to your legislators to let them know you want to stand up against special interest groups and the lobbyists from large corporations and insurance groups.

Now is the time for your voice to be heard.

Alexandra “Sachi” Cole has been named by the Daily Report a 2020 Attorney “On the Rise.”

Alexandra “Sachi” Cole has been named by the Daily Report a 2020 Attorney “On the Rise.” The honor recognizes Georgia’s most promising attorneys under the age of 40. Sachi sees the law as a tool to help people. She says, “I always wanted to help those who are in need of representation and actually started my career in non-profit law for this reason. The great thing about working in law is that each case is different, allowing me to feel challenged every day.  And, honestly, that never gets old.”

This is just the latest in the many honors awarded to Sachi. She has also been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star by Super Lawyers and Atlanta Magazine. Only 2.5% of all attorneys in Georgia are selected as Rising Stars. She is also a board member of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy providing no-cost services to childhood victims of sexual abuse in the Atlanta area.

“Our goal at Penn Law is to make a difference in the lives of our clients. Sachi does this day in and day out with her dedication to her clients and determination to see each of her clients get the justice they deserve. We are incredibly proud that she has been recognized for her efforts,” says Darren Penn, founder, Penn Law.

Sachi says her proudest moments have come in her work with sexual abuse victims. The claims are very nuanced and complicated but very important. She is proud Penn Law was the first to successfully bring a public nuisance claim in the context of institutional childhood sexual abuse and that the firm continues to work on the legislative side of this issue with a bill known as the Child Victim Act. Sachi says, “We have clients who have suffered trauma as children that can never be reversed. It is our responsibility to fight for them.”

https://www.law.com/dailyreportonline/2020/08/24/georgia-legal-award-recipients-provide-respite-from-disease-and-discord/?kw=Georgia%20Legal%20Award%20Recipients%20Provide%20Respite%20From%20Disease%20and%20Discord&utm_source=email&utm_medium=enl&utm_campaign=amalert&utm_content=20200825&utm_term=dro&enlcmp=nltrplt3

Alexandra “Sachi” Cole Named to “2020 On the Rise” List by Daily Report

We at Penn Law would like to congratulate Alexandra “Sachi” Cole for her recognition as one of Georgia’s most promising lawyers under 40. Sachi is one of 21 attorneys named in the Daily Report’s “2020 On The Rise.”

The honor recognizes attorneys who are innovators not only in their practice and litigation but also in their communities with pro bono and charitable work. Sachi specializes in products liability, personal injury, medical malpractice, employment discrimination, civil rights and complex civil litigation.

She is very active in her community, serving on the board of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy which provides no cost services to childhood victims of sexual abuse in the Atlanta area.

Congratulations Sachi, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to being a voice for victims.