J.M. v. Huntington Beach Union High School District

Although a governmental entity is legally required to grant a minor leave to file a late government claim, when it fails to do so, the minor must petition the superior court within a year or lose the right to sue.  The Government Claims Act sets forth procedures and requirements that must be satisfied before filing suit against a public entity for tort relief.  This decision illustrates the severe consequences of failing to adhere to the Act’s requirements.  A 15 year-old student was diagnosed with double-concussion syndrome after getting tackled during a school-sponsored football game.  His attorney did not present a claim to the school district within six months of the date the minor’s causes of action accrued, as required by the Act.  He later applied to the district to present a late claim on the ground plaintiff was a minor, but the district never responded, despite the fact that the district was legally required to grant a minor leave to file a late claim.  As a consequence, the application was denied by operation of law 45 days later.  Plaintiff filed a petition with the Superior Court seeking an order relieving him of the pre-suit claim requirement, which the trial court denied as untimely.  Affirmed.  Plaintiff filed his petition in the Superior Court more than six months after his application to present a late claim was deemed denied by operation of law, so it was untimely.

California Supreme Court (Corrigan, J.; Liu, Cuéllar, & Kruger, JJ., concurring); March 6, 2017; 2017 WL 875829

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