Louisiana Supreme Court Vacates Prior Decision and Finds Prescriptive Periods for Child Abuse Claims Can Be Revived

In 2021, the Louisiana Legislature amended La. R.S. 9:2800.9 to provide that a legal action against a person for sexual abuse of a minor, if barred by liberative prescription prior to the effective date of the amendment, is revived for a three-year period after the effective date of the amendment.  In 2022, La. R.S. 9:2800.9 was amended again to specifically state the Legislature’s intent to revive any cause of action related to sexual abuse of a minor that previously prescribed under any Louisiana prescriptive period.

On March 22, 2024, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued its decision in Douglas Bienvenu, et al. v. Defendant 1 and Defendant 2, and found the statute was unconstitutional because it conflicted with due process protections set forth in the Louisiana Constitution. Specifically, the Court found that a defendant has a vested property right in accrued prescription and that revival of a prescribed cause of action violated due process.

However, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs’ request for rehearing, and on June 12, 2024, the Court vacated its prior ruling and found that the amendments to La. R.S. 9:2800.9 were constitutional.

On rehearing, the court agreed that a defendant has a vested property right in accrued prescription but found another step in constitutional analysis was required— examination of whether the legislature’s revival of prescribed causes of action for sexual abuse of minors “comports with substantive due process.” The Court noted, “The essence of substantive due process is protection from arbitrary and capricious action.”

In Bienvenu, the defendants’ right to plead prescription was an economic interest that did not implicate fundamental rights. The statute at issue was social welfare legislation, enacted to address societal costs of child sexual abuse. Therefore, the Court found the applicable due process test was whether the legislation was reasonable in relation to the goal to be attained and was adopted in the interest of the community as a whole. The statute needed only to have a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental interest to survive due process scrutiny.

The Court found the amendments to La. R.S. 9:2800.9 passed this test because (1) the provision assists in identifying hidden child predators so children will not be abused in the future; (2) shifts the costs of the abuse from the victims and society to those who actually caused it; and (3) educates the public about the prevalence and harm from child sexual abuse to prevent future abuse. These interests were found legitimate and compelling. Thus, the statute was constitutional and could be applied retroactively “to revive, for the period stated, all causes of action related to sexual abuse of a minor that previously prescribed under any Louisiana prescriptive period.”


Bienvenu v. Defendant 1, 2023-01194 (La. 3/22/24), 382 So. 3d 38, reh’g granted, 2023-01194 (La. 5/10/24), and opinion vacated on reh’g, 2023-01194 (La. 6/12/24).

Bienvenu v. Defendant 1, 2023-01194 (La. 6/12/24).


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