August 14, 2019 is a date victims of childhood sexual abuse fought for in New York for years.
"It's going to be a date that many people are going to be able to say for the first time in their lives, after decades, ‘I was done wrong and I'm here to seek justice,’" attorney Steven Cohen said.
Starting on the 14th, victims of abuse for who had seen their deadline to take legal action pass will get a second chance. They'll have a 12-month window. Cohen said his firm, HoganWillig, plans to file 25 suits against various organizations on day one.
"We've vetted, I'll say hundreds, I think it's hundreds of cases that came in and we took a look at those and determined which ones we considered to be credible and provable," he said.
Attorney Steve Boyd is partnering with Jeff Anderson and Associates out of Minnesota. Together they plan to file more than hundred suits just against the Catholic Church on the 14th. They'll file more against school districts in the coming weeks.
"We've had people in both St. Paul and here in Buffalo reaching out to every single one of our clients and going through the case with them to make sure that everything we're doing is confirmed and reconfirmed and just making sure that it's all, all our ducks are in a row before filing day," Boyd said.
Attorneys said courts across the state can expect to be inundated next Wednesday.
"It's certainly going to be in the thousands," Cohen said.
In Western New York's 8th Judicial District, administrative judge Paula Feroleto has held several meetings. Boyd has been named a liaison between plaintiff attorneys and the courts.
"We're going to coordinate those efforts so that we're taking this process and not turning it into five to 10 years of litigation when it can be done much more quickly if we're in open communication with each other," he said.
The attorneys said they're preparing all of their cases as if they'll go to trial. Cohen said in many cases that's what his clients want.
"I think for many of these people, handing them a check, no matter how many zeroes is on the check, is not going to be enough," he said. "They need to confront their abusers."
Boyd said one wild card in Western New York will be if the diocese declares bankruptcy, which would likely keep many cases from going to trial. However, he said there's little attorneys can do to prepare for that.