Michigan House changes Nassar bills after legal settlement

May 22, 2018 - 3:37 pm

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan House on Tuesday scaled back legislation inspired by the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal, dropping certain measures addressed by last week's $500 million settlement between Michigan State University and hundreds of Nassar's victims and revising the time limits that survivors of childhood abuse would have to sue.

The House package, which was poised for committee and floor votes later in the week, would give people abused as children until their 28th birthday to sue, instead of their 19th birthday, which is generally the current cutoff. The state Senate had proposed giving such victims until their 48th birthday.

The House package also would give those abused as adults 10 years to sue, instead of the current three-year time limit that is generally used.

Other key changes would shrink a proposed window for people abused as children in 1997 or later to retroactively file lawsuits, shortening it from one year to within 90 days of the law taking effect. The retroactivity would only apply, however, if the accused was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and admitted to using his or her position as a physician to coerce the victim or to provide unethical or unacceptable treatment, which appears to limit the ability of non-Nassar victims to sue.

The state Senate-passed legislation had received pushback from universities, schools, local governments, businesses and the Catholic Church over the broader financial implications of facing an unknown number of suits for old allegations.

House legislators were expected to brief reporters on the changes later Tuesday.

Under last week's $500 million settlement with Michigan State University — where Nassar worked for decades as a campus sports doctor — the 332 victims were required to withdraw their support for two Senate bills that would have stripped an immunity defense in sexual misconduct civil cases if public entities are negligent and waived minors from legal notice requirements in such lawsuits.

Robert Young, who helped to negotiate the deal and this week was named Michigan State's general counsel, said last week that the "agreement was that our governmental immunity and (notice of intent) defenses would be preserved so that we didn't settle for half a billion dollars only to have another set of cases just like it."