The California Court of Appeal recently determined that substantial compliance is necessary when rejecting a government claim for damages. Treasure Andrews sued MTS after being injured on an MTS bus. Andrews served a government claim for damages. MTS served a notice of rejection pursuant to Government Code section 913.
Government Code section 913(b) states that the rejection notice should include a warning substantially stating:
“Subject to certain exceptions, you have only six (6) months from the date this notice was personally delivered or deposited in the mail to file a court action on this claim. See Government Code Section 945.6.
“You may seek the advice of an attorney of your choice in connection with this matter. If you desire to consult an attorney, you should do so immediately.”
The rejection notice by MTS omitted the attorney advisement warning.
Andrews filed her civil suit more than six months after the notice of rejection was filed. MTS filed a summary judgment motion on the grounds that Andrews' claim was time barred. Andrews opposed stating that the rejection notice was defective. Although the lower court dismissed the case based on a statute of limitations argument raised by MTS, the appellate court reversed the decision. The appellate court found that the rejection notice did not substantially comply with the statute. The court of appeal confirmed that attorney advisement is a matter of substance that is essential to every reasonable objective to the statute. As such, the omission of the attorney advisement warning rendered the notice of rejection of claim for damages defective.
Should you have any questions about government claims requirements, please feel free to contact us.
This Parker & Covert LLP post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Legal issues and principles apply differently, sometimes substantially, depending on context and facts. Review or receipt of this post does not create an attorney-client relationship.