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Is Cosby In Trouble Under California Law?

Is Cosby In Trouble Under California Law?

Is Bill Cosby in trouble?

Even though my main practice area as a Los Angeles car accident lawyer involves personal injury claims, I’ll explain the legal issues surrounding Cosby for the benefit of my friends and readers.

For the past several months, multiple women have stepped forward alleging that the TV icon assaulted them in the past.  Cosby has yet to address these allegations, and the question I receive pretty frequently is why not.

Under California law, once a victim of childhood abuse reaches the age of 18, he or she has eight years to file a civil suit against the abuser.  After the victim turns 26, several procedural hurdles make bringing the claim more difficult, if not downright impossible.

California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.1 requires any plaintiff who is 26 or older to file a “certificate of merit” with his or her sexual abuse lawsuit.

The certificate of merit must be prepared by both the plaintiff’s attorney, and a certified mental health practitioner, declaring that there is meritorious cause for filing the action against the abuser.

These certificates can be issued only after a thorough review of the facts and circumstances claimed by the abused victim.

The Code further prohibits a plaintiff from identifying the abuser by name in the lawsuit. After the suit is filed, a judge must review the allegations, along with the certificates of merit prepared by the plaintiff’s lawyer and mental health practitioner.

If the judge is satisfied that the claim has merit and the procedural steps were properly followed, the judge will then allow the plaintiff to reveal the identity of the abuser.  Only after these steps are followed can the plaintiff begin the formal litigation process.

One of the women who claimed Cosby abused her sued Cosby back in December.  Her name is Judy Huth, and she alleged that Cosby assaulted her 40 years ago.

In that lawsuit, Huth’s attorney did not follow any of these procedural steps, and Cosby was identified by name in the lawsuit–a blatant violation of the Code.

Nevertheless, the Court has allowed Huth’s lawsuit against Cosby to proceed.

Without reviewing the documents filed in this case, I cannot say on what basis the Court allowed the case to proceed.  But I can say why Cosby’s team had strong arguments to have the case thrown out of court, even though that’s not what happened.

What is clear is that Cosby is losing the battle of public opinion.  Whether he will lose the battle in the courtroom is a different question, and the answer remains to be seen.