MISSOURI

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

In Missouri, the civil SOL against a perpetrator for child sex abuse claims is capped at age 31 (age of majority, 21, plus 10 years) and against other defendants at age 26 (age of majority, 21, plus 5 years).  There is a 3-year statutory discovery rule for claims against perpetrators which runs from discovery the injury was caused by the abuse and a narrower 5-year common law discovery rule for claims against all defendants.

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

Age 31 against perpetrator

Age 26 against other defendants

DISCOVERY TOLLING

3 years against perpetrator (statutory)

5 years against all defendants (common law)

REVIVAL LAW

NONE

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap: Since 1990, Missouri had a general personal injury SOL of age 26 (age of majority, 21, plus 5 years) and a specific SOL for child sex abuse claims against perpetrators of age 23 (age 18, plus 5 years). In 2004, Missouri extended the civil SOL against perpetrators to age 31 (age of majority, 21, plus 10 years). In 2007, Missouri added a statute for victims of child pornography and set the SOL at age 31.

Discovery:  Missouri has a common law discovery rule and in 2006 recognized its applicability to a child sex abuse case where a victim repressed memories of abuse and later recovered them. The discovery rule runs from when “a reasonable person would have been put on notice that an injury and substantial damages may have occurred and would have undertaken to ascertain the extent of the damages.” In 1990 Missouri adopted a statutory discovery rule, which gives a victim 3 years from “the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or illness was caused by child sexual abuse” to file a lawsuit. This statutory discovery rule is only applicable to claims against the perpetrator of the abuse.

Revival Law:  Missouri has not passed a revival window or other SOL revival legislation since 2002.

CURRENT MISSOURI CIVIL LAW

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.046. - Childhood sexual abuse, injuries or illness defined--action for damages may be brought, when

1. As used in this section, the following terms mean:

(1) “Childhood sexual abuse”, any act committed by the defendant against the plaintiff which act occurred when the plaintiff was under the age of eighteen years and which act would have been a violation of section 566.030, 566.040, 566.050, 566.060, 566.070, 566.080, 566.090, 566.100, 566.110, or 566.120, or section 568.020;

(2) “Injury” or “illness”, either a physical injury or illness or a psychological injury or illness. A psychological injury or illness need not be accompanied by physical injury or illness.

2.Any action to recover damages from injury or illness caused by childhood sexual abuse in an action brought pursuant to this section shall be commenced within ten years of the plaintiff attaining the age of twenty-one or within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, that the injury or illness was caused by childhood sexual abuse, whichever later occurs.

3. This section shall apply to any action commenced on or after August 28, 2004, including any action which would have been barred by the application of the statute of limitation applicable prior to that date.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.047 - Civil action for damages authorized, sexual and pornographic offenses involving a minor--statute of limitations

1. Any person who, while a child or minor as defined by section 573.010, was a victim of a violation of sections 573.023, 573.025, 573.035, or 573.037, and who suffers physical or psychological injury or illness as a result of such violation, shall be entitled to bring a civil action to recover the actual damages sustained as a result of the violation, and shall also be entitled to recover the costs of the civil action and reasonable fees for attorneys and expert witnesses. A psychological injury or illness as described under this section need not be accompanied by physical injury or illness.

2. Any action described under this section shall be commenced within ten years of the plaintiff attaining the age of twenty-one, or within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers that the injury or illness was caused by the violation of an offense enumerated in subsection 1 of this section, whichever later occurs.

3. A cause of action under this section may arise only if the violation that caused the injury occurs on or after August 28, 2007.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.120(4) - What actions within five years

Within five years:

(1) All actions upon contracts, obligations or liabilities, express or implied, except those mentioned in section 516.110, and except upon judgments or decrees of a court of record, and except where a different time is herein limited;

(2) An action upon a liability created by a statute other than a penalty or forfeiture;

(3) An action for trespass on real estate;

(4) An action for taking, detaining or injuring any goods or chattels, including actions for the recovery of specific personal property, or for any other injury to the person or rights of another, not arising on contract and not herein otherwise enumerated;

(5) An action for relief on the ground of fraud, the cause of action in such case to be deemed not to have accrued until the discovery by the aggrieved party, at any time within ten years, of the facts constituting the fraud.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.170 - May delay filing of action, when

Except as provided in section 516.105, if any person entitled to bring an action in sections 516.100 to 516.370 specified, at the time the cause of action accrued be either within the age of twenty-one years, or mentally incapacitated, such person shall be at liberty to bring such actions within the respective times in sections 516.100 to 516.370 limited after such disability is removed.

Case law

Powel v. Chaminade Coll. Preparatory, Inc., 197 S.W.3d 576, 584 (Mo. 2006) (recognizing common law discovery rule applies to repressed memories of abuse), as modified on denial of reh’g (Aug. 22, 2006).

Dempsey v. Johnston, 299 S.W.3d 704, 706 (Mo. Ct. App. 2009) (common law discovery rule inapplicable where “Plaintiff always remembered what had happened to him and knew it was wrong” even though he did not know of his resulting injuries).

State ex rel. Heart of Am. Council v. McKenzie, 484 S.W.3d 320, 322 (Mo. 2016) (Finding that childhood sexual abuse statute § 537.046 does not apply to claims against non-perpetrator defendants.).

Doe v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, 862 S.W.2d 338, 339 (Mo. 1993). (While the legislature sought to apply the new SOL in § 537.046 even to claims that would have been expired already, the Missouri Supreme Court held that the revival provisions “contravene the [Missouri] constitutional prohibition against retrospective laws.”) 

 

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

In Missouri, there is no criminal SOL for unlawful felony and misdemeanor sex offenses.

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

OTHER FELNOIES

FELONIES

No SOL Mo. Rev. Stat. § 556.037(1)

MISDEMEANORS

No SOL Mo. Rev. Stat. § 556.037(1)

DNA SNAPSHOT

 

NO DNA STATUTE


 Changes Since 2002:

The criminal SOL in Missouri for unlawful sexual offenses against a person 18 or younger in 2002 was age 28.  In 2004, the criminal SOL was eliminated for forcible rape and sodomy and attempts and extended to age 38 (age of majority, 18, plus 20 years) for all other unlawful sexual offenses.  In 2011, the SOL for the remaining unlawful sexual offenses was extended by another 10 years so that the age cap was 48 (age of majority, 18, plus 30 years).  In 2018, Missouri eliminated the SOL for all unlawful felony and misdemeanor sex offenses against those who are 18 years old and younger.

CURRENT MISSOURI CRIMINAL LAW

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 556.037 - Time limitations for prosecutions for sexual offenses involving a person under eighteen

1. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 556.036, prosecutions for unlawful sexual offenses involving a person eighteen years of age or under may be commenced at any time.

2. For purposes of this section, “sexual offenses” include, but are not limited to, all offenses for which registration is required under sections 589.400 to 589.425.

Case Law

Doe v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, 862 S.W.2d 338, 339 (Mo. 1993) While the legislature sought to apply the new SOL even to claims that would have been expired already, the Missouri Supreme Court held that the revival provisions “contravene the [Missouri] constitutional prohibition against retrospective laws.”

The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the Missouri SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.

Last Updated: April 21, 2021

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