Adult Survivors Act Revives City Law Claims, Court Rules

default author image12.21.2023

A new decision in a sexual assault lawsuit against employment lawyer David Ratner says the Adult Survivors Act revives claims under both state and city law.

A new decision in a sexual assault lawsuit against employment lawyer David Ratner says the Adult Survivors Act revives claims under both state and city law.

NEW YORK, NY — Survivors Law Project has partially defeated a motion to dismiss an Adult Survivors Act (“ASA”) lawsuit against employment litigator David Ratner over his repeated unwanted sexual advances toward a female junior associate that led to her unlawful termination in 2011.

On December 20, 2023, Judge Lyle E. Frank of the New York State Supreme Court ruled that the Adult Survivors Act revived Kalisha Crawford’s claims of gender discrimination and retaliation under the New York City Human Rights Law. It is the first-ever ruling to explicitly state that the ASA revives claims under both state law and city law.

Crawford’s lawsuit alleged that Ratner sexually harassed and assaulted her multiple times while she was an associate at New York litigation firm Morelli Ratner P.C., where he was the managing partner. He eventually fired her for rejecting his advances.

In its landmark ruling, the Court relied on the plain language of the ASA, which explicitly states that the Act temporarily revived “every civil claim or cause of action” resulting from a sexual assault against an adult as defined in Penal Law Section 130:

“The issue here is not whether a state law can preempt a specific statute of limitations but rather, whether this one-year revival statute can also revive city law claims as well as state law claims. This is consistent with the Legislature’s intent… Furthermore, this is consistent with New York Courts’ application of a similar revival statute, the Child Victims Act (CVA)… Therefore, the Court finds that absent any indication the legislature intended to only revive state law claims, the ASA also revives City claims.”

The ASA revival period expired on November 23, 2023.

The Court dismissed Crawford’s claims of gender discrimination and retaliation under the New York State Human Rights Law, finding that Ratner did not meet the definition of “employer” under the statute. In its ruling, the Court relied on a 2021 Court of Appeals decision in Doe v. Bloomberg L.P. in which a female employee attempted to hold Michael Bloomberg vicariously liable for sexual harassment at his company in which he had no personal involvement.

The case is Kalisha Crawford v. David Ratner, No. 952052/2023 in New York Supreme Court, New York County.

Statement from Julia Elmaleh-Sachs, Senior Associate at Crumiller P.C.:

“We are thrilled with the Court’s well-reasoned decision that the Adult Survivors Act revives claims under the NYCHRL—the first ruling of its kind. This is yet another example of what happens when lawmakers and survivor-advocates work together to put power back in the hands of sexual assault victims. Unfortunately, with respect to Ms. Crawford’s claims under the state’s Human Rights Law, the Court was hamstrung by the Court of Appeals’ 2021 decision in Doe v. Bloomberg L.P., which created harmful case law for plaintiffs even where the sexual offender also has an ownership stake in the company.”

“Because the ASA deadline has expired, the door is now closed for thousands of survivors who learned about this law too late. We urge the New York State legislature to move quickly on passing an extension of the ASA so these survivors can have their day in court, too.”

Read the decision:

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