K.N.B. v. M.B.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a petition seeking a protective order under the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act (“PVSVIA”) is subject to a six-year statute of limitations. K.N.B. petitioned the trial court for a Sexual Violence Protective Order (“SVPO”) under the PVSVIA. The legislature enacted the PVSVIA to give victims of sexual violence “safety and protection from further interactions with their offender, regardless of whether they seek criminal prosecution”. The trial court entered a final SVPO prohibiting M.D. from contacting K.N.B. for one year. M.D. appealed, and the Superior Court affirmed. On appeal to the Supreme Court, M.D. first argued that K.N.B.’s petition was untimely because actions brought under the PVSVIA should be subject to a two-year statute of limitations. The Court disagreed and ruled that PVSVIA actions do not fit within the listed actions in 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524 (re: statutes of limitations). Therefore, the catch-all statute of limitations–i.e., six years–applies. In his second issue, M.D. contended the trial court erred in finding that K.N.B. met the second prong of the PVSVIA, under which plaintiffs must “prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff . . . is at a continued risk of harm from the defendant”. The Court held that the PVSVIA’s continued risk of harm element does not require trial courts to evaluate the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s mental and emotional reaction when she encounters the defendant.

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