Andrew Kitchenman | NJBIZ

A bill advancing in the Legislature would eliminate the statute of limitations and broaden the liability for cases of sexual abuse of children, which is raising concerns among some businesses.

The bill, S-1651/A-2405, would remove the current two-year statute of limitations and broaden the standard for liability to include the abuser’s supervisors.

Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, said companies that provide liability insurance for nonprofit organizations are concerned.

“The liability is completely unpredictable and enormous, the way this bill is designed,” he said. Rayner said applying a “negligence” standard to supervisors and organizations could make nonprofit CEOs personally liable for abuse committed by employees, and could dissuade people from serving on nonprofit boards.

Bill sponsor Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Woodbridge) has been unwilling to make changes to the bill to lessen its scope, Rayner said. A separate bill sponsored by Sen. Paul A. Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) and Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald (D-Voorhees) would expand the statute of limitations to 10 years, rather than eliminate it, and wouldn’t apply negligence as a standard for supervisors.

While Vitale’s bill was dropped from the Senate voting session on Aug. 20 – when four Democratic senators were on vacation – the senator is expected to bring the bill back for a vote in September.