San Diego Law Review

Notice and the Claim Presentation Requirements Under the California Government Claims Act: Recalibrating the Scales of Justice

Author(s)

Samanta Lewis

Editor(s)

Faculty editor: Lawrence A. Alexander

Details

Publication Law Review
Volume 53
Issue 3
Start Page 701
Month
Year 2016
Type Comment
Subject Area

Abstract

   To recalibrate the scales of justice, this Comment advocates for a statutory amendment that encompasses two changes. First, the amendment would require plaintiffs to present their government claims against the state directly to the public entity that allegedly caused the harm, instead of the VCGCB, thereby accomplishing the statute’s objective of providing notice to the state entity. Second, instead of the VCGCB assessing claims against the state, each state agency would have its own government claims office (GCO) handle government claims for the respective individualized entity. This would promote efficiency in the government claims process by cutting out the “middleman,” the VCGCB. Moreover, this amendment would ensure that plaintiffs avoid a fatal loss of substantive rights due to a minor procedural technicality, one that does not achieve the statute’s legislative purpose of providing state entities with notice of potential lawsuits.
   Part II of this Comment provides a brief history of the Act, an overview of the current process for filing government claims against the state of California, including the VCGCB’s role in that process, and the consequences for failing to comply with the claim presentation statutes, specifically focusing on Government Code section 915, subdivision (b). Part III discusses the legislative intent underlying section 915’s claim presentation requirements and examines how the requirements are inconsistent with the statute’s purpose. Part IV discusses California courts’ varying interpretations and applications of the strict claim presentation requirement under section 915, subdivision (b), specifically focusing on two California decisions: Jamison v. State of California (Jamison) and DiCampli-Mintz v. County of Santa Clara (DiCampli-Mintz). Part IV also discusses the doctrine of substantial compliance and analyzes how these two California decisions vary in their applications of the doctrine. Part V explains the need to reconcile the Jamison and DiCampli-Mintz decisions. Part VI discusses potential ways to reconcile these cases, and provides the statutory language and benefits of the superior solution. Finally, Part VII concludes by summarizing the consequences of California’s current Government Code section 915, while highlighting the beneficial impact the proposed statutory amendment would have on the legal system.

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