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Penn State University will not be able to invoke sovereign immunity as a defense in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal, lawyers have told The Legal, in what court watchers are calling inevitable civil action calling for massive amounts of money against the university.

What was perhaps a trivial detail for some — that Penn State is a state-related university and not a member of the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education — now becomes a key distinction that could extend the university’s liability into an eighth digit. That, as opposed to a $250,000 maximum for damages state institutions face in civil court and a $1 million cap in the aggregate.

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