In order for a child sexual abuse plaintiff to proceed anonymously under the Child Victims Act, the plaintiffs must provide specific evidence as to why each plaintiff should be entitled to proceed anonymously

New York



Court denies plaintiffs’ request to bring an anonymous lawsuit under the Child Victims Act In Twersky v. Yeshiva Univ., No. 2022-00366 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2022), the Supreme Court of New York, First Department reversed the decision of Supreme Court, New York County granting the plaintiffs’ motion to proceed in anonymity and to file a complaint under pseudonyms rather than under the plaintiffs’ legal names.At the Supreme Court, 38 adult plaintiffs brought an action against the defendant school related to sexual abuse experienced as children. 33 of the plaintiffs brought an application to proceed anonymously, arguing that allowing them to proceed under a pseudonym would spare them from stigmatization and potential embarrassment. They argued that if the plaintiffs were not allowed to proceed under a pseudonym, increased media attention could lead to a chilling effect that inhibits the plaintiffs and other alleged victims of abuse from coming forward. The Supreme Court granted the application.The defendant appealed. On appeal, the First Department explained that the Court has held that permission to use a pseudonym will not be granted automatically and has noted that the motion court should exercise its discretion to limit the public nature of judicial proceedings sparingly and only when unusual circumstances necessitate it. A plaintiff seeking permission to proceed anonymously by employing a pseudonym must provide facts specific to the plaintiff that will allow the motion court to exercise its discretion in an informed manner.The First Department noted that the plaintiffs’ motion should have been denied because the plaintiffs failed to submit sufficient evidence to support the relief requested. The plaintiffs only submitted a short attorney affirmation, which merely repeated the relief requested in the order to show cause and made a single vague statement that the plaintiffs might suffer further mental harm should their identities be revealed. The plaintiffs failed to provide any specific evidence as to why each unnamed plaintiff should be entitled to proceed anonymously. As a result, the appeal was granted, and the lower court judgment was reversed.

April 14, 2022
Twersky v. Yeshiva Univ., No. 2022-00366 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2022)
New York Courts