Matthews v. Roberts CA4/1
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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS
California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
COURT OF APPEAL, FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Plaintiff and Appellant,
Defendant and Respondent.
(Super. Ct. No. 37-2016-00002512- CU-PO-CTL)
APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Randa Trapp, Judge. Affirmed.
Thomas Matthews, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.
Thomas E. Montgomery, County Counsel, and David M. Stotland, Deputy County Counsel, for Defendant and Respondent.
Thomas Matthews appeals from a judgment dismissing his complaint against Supervisor Ron Roberts of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors following an order sustaining a demurrer to the complaint without leave to amend. The superior court sustained the demurrer on the ground Matthews did not adequately allege compliance with the claim presentation requirement (Gov. Code, §§ 911.2, 945.4) in the Government Claims Act (id., § 810 et seq.). Matthews contends we must reverse the judgment because the court failed to allow him to introduce evidence proving his compliance with the requirement and, regardless, the record shows he substantially complied with the requirement as to the County of San Diego (County) and two of the County's code enforcement employees.
We conclude the court properly sustained the demurrer without leave to amend because the record shows Matthews did not comply with the claim presentation requirement as to Supervisor Roberts and the time to do so has expired. Further, while Matthews may have substantially complied with the requirement as to the County and two of the County's code enforcement employees, the time to file a complaint against these parties has also expired. We, therefore, affirm the judgment.
Matthews filed a complaint against Supervisor Roberts asserting causes of action for general negligence, intentional tort, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint sought damages arising from abatement activities carried out by County employees on Matthews's property over a 20-day period in March 2015. The complaint alleged the County employees unlawfully entered onto and took items from his property. The County employees indicated they would store the items for 60 days, during which time he could redeem them; however, they disposed of the items instead. The complaint further alleged Matthews had complied with applicable claims statutes.
Supervisor Roberts demurred to the complaint on the ground the complaint did not fairly reflect the allegations in Matthews's government claim, which Supervisor Roberts appended to the demurrer. Of relevance to this appeal, Supervisor Roberts asserted the claim did not identify him or contain any factual allegations of wrongdoing by him. Instead, the claim alleged misconduct by the County and two specific code enforcement employees. Supervisor Roberts additionally asserted Matthews could not cure the pleading defect because the time for filing a claim, or an application to file a late claim, against Supervisor Roberts had expired. The court agreed with Supervisor Roberts on these points and sustained the demurrer without leave to amend.
"On appeal from a judgment dismissing an action after sustaining a demurrer, we review de novo whether the complaint states facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action under any legal theory. [Citation.] 'We give the complaint a reasonable interpretation, reading it as a whole and its parts in their context. [Citation.] Further, we treat the demurrer as admitting all material facts properly pleaded, but do not assume the truth of contentions, deductions or conclusions of law.' [Citation.] We also consider matters which may be judicially noticed. [Citation.] ' "We affirm if any ground offered in support of the demurrer was well taken but find error if the plaintiff has stated a cause of action under any possible legal theory. [Citations.] We are not bound by the trial court's stated reasons, if any, supporting its ruling; we review the ruling, not its rationale." ' " (Ramirez v. Tulare County Dist. Attorney's Office (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 911, 924.)
" 'Government Code section 905 requires that "all claims for money or damages against local public entities" be presented to the responsible public entity before a lawsuit is filed.' [Citation.] 'Claims for personal injury and property damage must be presented within six months after accrual; all other claims must be presented within a year. ([Gov. Code,] § 911.2.) "[N]o suit for money or damages may be brought against a public entity on a cause of action for which a claim is required to be presented ... until a written claim therefor has been presented to the public entity and has been acted upon ... or has been deemed to have been rejected … ." ([Gov. Code,] § 945.4.) "Thus, under these statutes, failure to timely present a claim for money or damages to a public entity bars a plaintiff from filing a lawsuit against that entity." ' " (City of Pasadena v. Superior Court (2017) 12 Cal.App.5th 1340, 1346; State of California v. Superior Court (2004) 32 Cal.4th 1234, 1239.) This bar also applies to a lawsuit against a public employee for an act or omission within the scope of the public employee's employment. (Gov. Code, § 950.2; Williams v. Horvath (1976) 16 Cal.3d 834, 838.)
"In order to comply with the claim presentation requirement, the facts alleged in a complaint filed in the trial court supporting a cause of action against a government employee, including the damages alleged to have been suffered by the claimant, must be consistent with the facts contained within the government claim." (Gong v. City of Rosemead (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 363, 376.) Here, Matthews's government claim did not name Supervisor Roberts as required by Government Code section 910, subdivision (e). It also did not describe any "indebtedness, obligation, injury, damage or loss" attributable to Supervisor Roberts as required by Government Code section 910, subdivision (d). Accordingly, Matthews's complaint did not allege sufficient facts to show he complied with the claim presentation requirement as to Supervisor Roberts.
Matthews could not cure the pleading defect by submitting a government claim as to Supervisor Roberts. The deadlines for submitting a timely claim and for obtaining leave to submit a late claim had both expired by the time the court ruled on Supervisor Roberts's demurrer. (Gov. Code, §§ 911.2, subd. (a) ["A claim relating to a cause of action for ... injury to person or to personal property ... shall be presented ... not later than six months after the accrual of the cause of action"]; 911.4, subd. (b) [an application to present a late claim must "be presented to the public entity ... within a reasonable time not to exceed one year after the accrual of the cause of action"].)
Matthews also could not cure the pleading defect by naming the County and the two code enforcement employees in his complaint in lieu of Supervisor Roberts.
Matthews had to file his lawsuit against the County and the two code enforcement employees within six months after the County rejected his claim. (Gov. Code, § 945.6, subd. (a)(1).) The record shows the County rejected Matthews's claim on August 7, 2015. By the time the court heard Supervisor Roberts's demurrer in August 2016, the six-month period for filing a lawsuit against the County and the two code enforcement employees had expired. Although Matthews's complaint included Doe defendants, he could not substitute the County and the two code enforcement employees as Doe defendants because, as demonstrated by his specific reference to these parties in his government claim, he was not ignorant of their identities when he filed his complaint. (Code Civ. Proc., § 474; Chase v. State of California (1977) 67 Cal.App.3d 808, 812–814; Olden v. Hatchell (1984) 154 Cal.App.3d 1032, 1036; Carlino v. Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist. (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1526, 1536.)
The judgment is affirmed. Respondent is awarded his costs on appeal.
MCCONNELL, P. J.
|Description||Thomas Matthews appeals from a judgment dismissing his complaint against Supervisor Ron Roberts of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors following an order sustaining a demurrer to the complaint without leave to amend. The superior court sustained the demurrer on the ground Matthews did not adequately allege compliance with the claim presentation requirement (Gov. Code, §§ 911.2, 945.4) in the Government Claims Act (id., § 810 et seq.). Matthews contends we must reverse the judgment because the court failed to allow him to introduce evidence proving his compliance with the requirement and, regardless, the record shows he substantially complied with the requirement as to the County of San Diego (County) and two of the County's code enforcement employees.
We conclude the court properly sustained the demurrer without leave to amend because the record shows Matthews did not comply with the claim presentation requirement as to Supervisor Roberts and the time to do so has exp
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