Sunday, March 25, 2007

Send this one on to your malpractice insurer: Plaintiffs law firm filed her Political Subdivision tort claim against York County apparently on time, but then filed her notice to withdraw the claim exactly six months after her initial filing date. Nebraska Supreme Court finds the plaintiff's claim withdrawal date was one day too early, but does not discuss whether the plaintiff's filing suit more than six months after the claim corrected the premature withdrawal. Geddes v. York County, S-05-1359, 273 Neb. 271. Plaintiff alleged York County's negligent act occurred on June 10, 2002. The Plaintiff's attorney filed her tort claim with York County on April 21, 2003. The county board considered the claim but did not act. Plaintiff's attorney filed notice withdrawing the tort claim on either October 20 or 21, 2003. Plaintiff filed suit on May 7, 2004. Plaintiff's representative took over the case on April 6, 2005 as plaintiff had died. District court granted York County's motion for summary judgment finding that the Plaintiff failed to comply with § 13-906, Nebraska Political Subdivision Tort Claim Act, because she withdrew her claim filed with York County before 6 months had passed from the date of filing when the county had not yet made final disposition. Nebraska Supreme Court affirms. Section § 25-2221 (Cum. Supp. 2006) provides the method to calculate the "within" six months waiting time period from § 13-906. Using 25-2221, "within six months" in 13-906 would extend through October 21. So even if the parties dispute when the plaintiff filed the withdrawal, the plaintiff prematurely withdrew the suit. The supreme court however did not discuss whether the plaintiff's suit filing corrected her premature withdrawal, as Nebraska Supreme Court held in Malzahn v. Transit Authority, 244 Neb. 425, 507 N.W.2d 289 (1993), that absent any consideration of the statute of limitations, filing suit is substantial compliance with the terms of § 13-906 and equates with notice of withdrawal of a claim from consideration. See also Big Crow v. City of Rushville, 11 Neb.App. 498, 654 N.W.2d 383 (Neb.App. 12/10/2002) affirmed 266 Neb. 750, 669 N.W.2d 63 (Neb. 09/26/2003){suit filed too early but city failed to plead defense} "Using the time computation method specified in § 25-2221, we exclude April 21, 2003, the date on which Schirber filed her claim, so that the 6-month period began on April 22, 2003. Unless the context shows otherwise, the word “month” used in a Nebraska statute means “calendar month.” A calendar month is a period terminating with the day of the succeeding month, numerically corresponding to the day of its beginning, less one. Applying §§ 25-2221 and 49-801(13), we conclude that the district court correctly determined October 21, 2003, to be the last day of the 6-month period that commenced when Schirmer filed her claim with the county clerk. The district court had further found the statute of limitations had run on the plaintiff's cause of action and even though that finding may have been wrong, the plaintiff did not allege error. The Supreme Court refuses to consider this as a plain error.

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