HUNTINGDON BEACH, Calif. — The
California Supreme Court in a March 6 filing ruled in favor of a
school district in a case involving a high-school football player
injured during a game.
A Huntingdon Beach student, a minor,
sustained injuries while playing in a game in October 2011. According
to court records, J.M. claimed he was injured when he was tackled
during a football game on Oct. 9. On Oct. 31, he was diagnosed with
A year later, the student’s
attorney filed suit against the Huntingdon Beach Union School
District. The case eventually made its way to the California Supreme
Court, which ruled in favor of the school district, saying the player
can’t file a claim because he waited too long.
J.M. vs. Huntingdon Beach Union High School District, fell under the
auspices of the Government Claims Act. According to the law, the
student had six months to file a suit against the school district.
After the six-month period, the student retained an attorney, and
they filed a petition on Oct. 24, 2012.
The late claim to the district was denied after 45 days under the
Government Claims Act. The plaintiff’s attorney, though, claimed
the district should have granted the application, and the case went
to district court.
The plaintiff claimed that the district should have granted his
application and the case headed to superior court and then appeals
court. Both courts upheld the denial of the late claim.
In affirming the previous decision, the Supreme Court said there
was no wiggle room when it comes to the Government Claims Act. The
six-month window is “mandatory, not discretionary,” the court
and that even if the claimant is a minor, there is no exception to
“I note that the statutory scheme governing applications for
leave to file a late claim raises an apparent anomaly that the
Legislature may wish to address. When a late claim application has
been presented to a public entity, the entity 'shall grant or deny
the application within 45 days,'” Justice Goodwin Liu wrote in the
“When the 'person who sustained the alleged injury, damage or
loss was a minor during all of the time specified . . . for the
presentation of the claim,' the public entity 'shall grant the
application,'” Liu wrote.