The number of Penn State officials indicted by the grand jury investigative report suggests that the pending civil suits will cast a wide net in seeking damages to increase the likelihood of receiving compensation. “A wise plaintiff lawyer will sue everybody,” says Norm Pattis, a criminal defense and federal civil rights lawyer based in New Haven, Conn.
Then there’s the growing number of plaintiffs expected to step forward. The Associated Press reports that there may already be as many as 20 victims. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations in child abuse cases was extended in 2007, giving the victim until his or her 50th birthday to file charges.
Because the alleged abuse in the Penn State scandal is reported to have taken place between 1994 and 2009, the possibility of many more potential plaintiffs stepping forward is likely. Not only will more plaintiffs make it more difficult to defend, the defense will have a hard time providing alibis for accusations that took place so far in the past.
And there’s also the potential problem of phantom, or fraudulent, claims.
“Any guy within spitting distance of Penn State … can make a claim against the university,” Mr. Pattis says. “How can you defend yourself against that?”