Three lawsuits against ex-Elmo actor Kevin Clash have been thrown out by a judge in New York, according to The Associated Press. Why?
As you may recall, several claims were made last year against Clash, the man behind the beloved furry red Elmo suit on "Sesame Street." At least three different men claimed that Clash sexually abused them when they were children. Clash resigned from the show last fall.
Federal Judge Kevin Koeltl is now tossing out three lawsuits, claiming that the statute of limitations had already expired.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a law that limits lawsuits to a certain period of time after an incident occurs or is discovered.
While the time limits vary by state and by the type of incident (i.e., personal injury, theft, etc.), the effect is generally the same: If a claim arising from an accident or injury is brought after the statute of limitations has expired, then the right to sue will be lost.
There are many reasons behind this, one of them being fairness to the party sued (so that they aren't caught by surprise 10 years later, for example). Another is to preserve the integrity of the case.
The Claims Against Clash
New York's statutes of limitations give three years to an injured party, once they reach the age of majority, to sue for an injury to their person. For other accidents, the law sets different limits; victims of fraud, for example, have up to six years to file civil lawsuits.
According to Judge Koeltl, all the claims against ex-Elmo actor Kevin Clash were filed more than six years after the alleged incidents occurred. In other words, it's been more than six years since they were all aware of the possible violations that could have allowed them to sue.
And while the alleged victims claimed they'd been abused as children, it has also been more than three years since the men have reached the age of majority, which bars their lawsuits, the judge explained.
Lawyers for the three plaintiffs say they plan to appeal the judge's dismissal of their lawsuits. One more lawsuit against Clash is still pending, the AP reports.
- Judge tosses 3 lawsuits against Elmo voice (NBC News)
- Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Resigns After 2nd Sex Allegation (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- Voice of Elmo Accused of Sex with Underage Teen (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- Details on State Civil Statute of Limitations (FindLaw)