Judge: Theresa M. Traber, Case: 20STCV32505, Date: 2022-08-03 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 20STCV32505    Hearing Date: August 3, 2022    Dept: 47

Tentative Ruling

 

Judge Theresa M. Traber, Department 47

 

 

HEARING DATE:     August 3, 2022                       TRIAL DATE: NOT SET                                                          

CASE:                         Crystal Anderson v. 2600 Wilshire Blvd. 

CASE NO.:                 20STCV32505           

 

MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE LATE GOVERNMENT CLAIM

 

MOVING PARTY:               Plaintiff Crystal Anderson

 

RESPONDING PARTY(S): Defendant Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, erroneously sued as 2600 Wilshire Boulevard.

 

CASE HISTORY:

 

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS AND/OR PROCEEDINGS:

           

            Plaintiff sued the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), erroneously named as 2600 Wilshire Boulevard, alleging that HACLA improperly issued a voucher for a two-bedroom unit and subsequently downgraded her voucher. 

 

Plaintiff moves for leave to file a late government claim.

           

TENTATIVE RULING:

 

Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to file a Late Government Claim is DENIED.

 

DISCUSSION:


            The California Tort Claims Act states that no person may sue a public entity or public employee for money or damages unless a timely written claim has been presented to and denied by the public entity. (Gov. Code § 945.4.) Generally, a claim must be presented to the public entity within six months after the accrual of the cause of action. (Gov. Code. § 911.2.) However, a party may apply for leave to present a late claim provided that it is presented “within a reasonable time not to exceed one year after the accrual of the cause of action.” (Gov. Code § 911.4(b).) The one-year period may be tolled for several enumerated reasons, including when the injured person is mentally incapacitated and does not have a guardian or conservator. (Gov. Code § 911.4(c)(1).)

 

            Under Government Code section 946.6, when an application for leave to present a late claim is denied, a party may petition a court for relief from section 945.4. (Gov. Code § 946.6(a).) The court “shall relieve the petitioner from the requirements of Section 945.4 if the court finds that the application to the board under Section 911.4 was made within a reasonable time not to exceed that specified in subdivision (b) of Section 911.4 and was denied” and is subject to at least one of several enumerated reasons for failure to present a timely claim. (Gov. Code § 946.6(c).)

 

            Although Plaintiff cites and references subdivision (c)(1) of section 946.6, authorizing relief from a late-filed claim for excusable neglect, the substance of Plaintiff’s argument is based on her mental capacity, or lack thereof, during all of the time specified for presentation of the claim. This argument is properly raised under subdivision (c)(4) of section 946.6. The Court will therefore consider the motion on that basis.

 

            When a party seeks to establish mental incapacity, that party has the burden of doing so by a preponderance of the evidence. (Santee v. Santa Clara County Office of Education (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 702, 717.) A mental incapacity is one that prevents the party from appreciating or communicating the nature of the injury. (Favorite v. County of Los Angeles (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 835, 839-41.)

 

            Plaintiff states that she was unable to communicate the nature of her situation or her injuries because she was on medication, including opiates, prescribed for other physical injuries which she had sustained. (Declaration of Crystal Anderson ISO Mot. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff has provided photos of the medicine bottles, and approvals for her requests for an X-ray and CT scan. (Anderson Decl. Exh. D.) However, Plaintiff also filed the original Complaint in this action on August 26, 2020, which is evidence that, by that time, she was able to communicate the nature of the injury to the Court. Although the Court sustained the demurrer for numerous substantial defects, the Court did not find that the Complaint was so defective as to be completely unintelligible. (See April 11, 2022 Minute Order.)

 

Plaintiff offers no explanation to show that she was so incapacitated as to be unable to communicate the nature of the injury at the time she filed the Complaint. As alleged in the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff’s original housing voucher was approved on March 12, 2020. (SAC ¶ 14.) Plaintiff does not state when her voucher was downgraded in the Second Amended Complaint. However, even if the downgrade happened the same day as the approval, Plaintiff filed the Complaint less than six months after the approval. Thus, the time to file a section 911.2 claim began to run no later than August 26, 2020 under section 911.4 subdivisions (b) and (c). Therefore, the last date that the late claim could have been filed was August 26, 2021, under section 911.4’s one-year requirement. Plaintiff concedes that she did not file a section 911.2 claim during that time. (Anderson Decl. ¶ 2, Exh. A [claim presented on May 23, 2022].) Under section 946.6, the Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to grant relief from the requirements of section 945.4.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

            Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File a Late Government Claim is DENIED.

 

            Moving Party to give notice.

 

IT IS SO ORDERED.

 

Date: August 3, 2022                          ___________________________________

                                                                                    Theresa M. Traber

                                                                                    Judge of the Superior Court

 


            Any party may submit on the tentative ruling by contacting the courtroom via email at Smcdept47@lacourt.org by no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the hearing. All interested parties must be copied on the email. It should be noted that if you submit on a tentative ruling the court will still conduct a hearing if any party appears. By submitting on the tentative you have, in essence, waived your right to be present at the hearing, and you should be aware that the court may not adopt the tentative, and may issue an order which modifies the tentative ruling in whole or in part.