New York lawmakers signed the Child Victim’s Act on February 14, 2019, which provides a one-year window for child sex abuse survivors, regardless of age, to file civil claims against their alleged abusers and any related negligent institutions.
That window opened on August 14, 2019, and so far, more than 400 lawsuits have been filed in response, with many more expected to be filed in the near future.
Rockefeller University Hospital in New York is named as a defendant in some of those lawsuits and faces hundreds of allegations by patients who claim to have been abused by one of the hospital’s doctors, Dr. Reginald Archibald.
The hospital, in turn, recently filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court against several of its insurers, including Aetna, Travelers, Chubb, and Lloyd’s of London. The hospital claims the companies are refusing to pay out costs to settle abuse claims or to assist with the legal defense associated with them.
Renowned Doctor Abused Children for Years
Doctor Reginald Archibald was a premier physician at Rockefeller for about 40 years, during which time he treated over 9,000 children. He allegedly abused hundreds and possibly thousands of children while he was there, and according to an investigation by the hospital’s own attorneys, officials at the hospital may have been aware of the doctor’s behavior as early as 1961.
Archibald allegedly kept a cabin on a remote island in Canada, and would invite the children there for a “special summer opportunity.” Many victims claim to have been abused at that cabin.
In 1961, the New York County District’s Attorney’s office presented information about the alleged abuse to a grand jury, but no action was taken.
The Physician-in-Chief from 1960 to 1974 also received several complaints against the doctor. Archibald stopped working for the hospital in the 1980s and passed away in 2007.
Will Insurers Help Pay for Sexual Abuse Claims?
The hospital’s lawsuit brings up questions as to how these types of cases may be handled in the courts, and it may affect compensation amounts offered to victims. The lawsuit is the second of its type, as the Archdiocese of New York recently filed similar claims against its insurers, including Chubb, because the companies don’t plan to cover claims brought through the Child Victim’s Act.
According to the complaint brought by the Archdiocese, the insurers “intend to dispute, limit and/or deny coverage for claims and lawsuits alleging sexual abuse and physical abuse,” as noted in the New York Daily News. The Diocese seeks a declaration from the court that the insurance companies must provide coverage for and defend the church against sexual abuse claims.
Rockefeller Hospital hopes to secure the same type of declaration, having filed its lawsuit in anticipation of the many sexual abuse lawsuits it’s likely to face. The hospital sued under New York’s Deceptive Business Practices, and plans to argue that the insurers’ denial of coverage and defense was in bad faith and was knowing, reckless, and willful, according to reports.
Rockefeller has already reached settlement agreements with some victims, with payments funded solely by the hospital.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.