Eastern District Judge Frederic Block (See Profile) has scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Feb. 11, 2013 on whether Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School, its board of trustees and some of its officials should be barred from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense against lawsuits by former students who allege they were sexually abused by a prominent football coach.
The scheduling order came during an appearance before Block on Sept. 14. Kevin Mulhearn appeared for the plaintiffs, and Jeffrey Kohn, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers and Matthew Fishbein, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, appeared for the defendants.
The plaintiffs are 10 alumni of the elite Brooklyn private school and two former participants in its summer camp program. They claim that Poly Prep officials covered up a pattern of sexual abuse of students by Philip Foglietta, who coached football at the school from 1966 to 1991.
The defendants have asserted that the suit is barred by the statute of limitations. In New York, a minor alleging sexual abuse has only five years after his or her 18th birthday to bring suit.
However, the plaintiffs argue that equitable estoppel bars the defendants from asserting the statute of limitations because they falsely claimed for years not to know of any credible accusations against Foglietta. They claim that school officials received complaints throughout Foglietta’s tenure (NYLJ, Aug. 30). “Poly Prep and its principals lied repeatedly,” Mulhearn said in court.