936 N.W.2d 924 (Neb. 2020), S-18-793, Saylor v. State

Docket Nº:S-18-793
Citation:936 N.W.2d 924, 304 Neb. 779
Opinion Judge:Stacy, J.
Party Name:James SAYLOR, appellant, v. STATE of Nebraska et al., appellees.
Attorney:Michael J. Wilson, Omaha, of Schaefer Shapiro, L.L.P., for appellant. Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, Scott R. Straus, and, on brief, David A. Lopez, Deputy Solicitor General, for appellees State of Nebraska and Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. Henry L. Wiedrich, of Cline, Wil...
Judge Panel:Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, and Funke, JJ. Heavican, C.J., and Papik and Freudenberg, JJ., not participating.
Case Date:January 10, 2020
Court:Supreme Court of Nebraska

Page 924

936 N.W.2d 924 (Neb. 2020)

304 Neb. 779

James SAYLOR, appellant,

v.

STATE of Nebraska et al., appellees.

No. S-18-793

Supreme Court of Nebraska

January 10, 2020

Syllabus

1. Tort Claims Act: Actions: Time. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8 ,227 (Reissue 2014) sets out a 2-year limitations period that governs not just the time for submitting claims to the Risk Manager, but also the time for beginning suit under the State Tort Claims Act.

2. Tort Claims Act: Actions: Time. Before suit can be filed under the State Tort Claims Act, a claimant must submit the claim in writing to the Risk Manager within 2 years after the claim accrued.

3. Tort Claims Act: Actions: Time. Generally speaking, a claimant cannot file suit under the State Tort Claims Act until the Risk Manager or State Claims Board makes a final disposition of the claim, but if no final disposition of a claim has been made after 6 months, the claimant is permitted to withdraw the claim and file suit.

4. Summary Judgment: Appeal and Error. An appellate court will affirm a lower court’s grant of summary judgment if the pleadings and admitted evidence show that there is no genuine issue as to any material facts or as to the ultimate inferences that may be drawn from those facts and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

5. Summary Judgment: Appeal and Error. In reviewing a summary judgment, an appellate court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the judgment was granted and gives that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences deducible from the evidence.

6. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory interpretation presents a question of law, for which an appellate court has an obligation to reach an independent conclusion irrespective of the decision made by the court below.

7. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory language is to be given its plain and ordinary meaning, and an appellate court will not resort to interpretation to ascertain the meaning of statutory words which are plain, direct, and unambiguous.

[304 Neb. 780] 8. Statutes. It is not within the province of a court to read a meaning into a statute that is not warranted by the language; neither is it within the province of a court to read anything plain, direct, or unambiguous out of a statute.

9. Statutes. A court must attempt to give effect to all parts of a statute, and if it can be avoided, no word, clause, or sentence will be rejected as superfluous or meaningless.

10. Statutes: Immunity. Statutes authorizing suits against the State are to be strictly construed because such statutes are in derogation of the State’s sovereign immunity.

11. Tort Claims Act: Actions: Time: Legislature. The Legislature expressly states in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8 ,227(5) (Reissue 2014) that § 81-8,227 and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-213 (Reissue 2016) "shall constitute the only statutes of limitations applicable to the State Tort Claims Act." Because Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-201.02 (Reissue 2016) is not one of the applicable statutes listed in § 81-8,227(5), it cannot be applied to extend the time period for bringing an action under the State Tort Claims Act.

Page 925

Appeal from the District Court for Lancaster County: ROBERT R. OTTE, Judge. Affirmed.

Michael J. Wilson, Omaha, of Schaefer Shapiro, L.L.P., for appellant.

Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, Scott R. Straus, and, on brief, David A. Lopez, Deputy Solicitor General, for appellees State of Nebraska and Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Henry L. Wiedrich, of Cline, Williams, Wright, Johnson & Oldfather, L.L.P., Omaha, for appellee Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C.

Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, and Funke, JJ.

OPINION

Stacy, J.

Page 926

The central issue in this appeal is whether the savings clause of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-201.01 (Reissue 2016) applies to an action under the State Tort Claims Act (STCA).[1] We conclude it does not. We therefore affirm the judgment of the district court dismissing this STCA action as time barred.

[304 Neb. 781] BACKGROUND

This appeal requires us to consider the timeliness of a tort action filed in 2017 by James Saylor against the State of Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS), and 10 others alleged to be employed by DCS. Tort claims against the State and its agents and employees are governed by the STCA.2 Here, no one disputes that the tort claims alleged in Saylor’s 2017 action are governed by the STCA; instead, the dispute is whether his 2017 action was timely commenced under the STCA.

This case has a complicated factual and procedural history. In this opinion, we address only that which bears directly on resolving the central question of whether this action is time barred under the STCA. We begin by setting out the statutes that govern timeliness under the STCA.

STCA

Section 81-8 ,227 sets out a 2-year limitations period that governs not just the time for submitting claims to the Risk Manager, but also the time for beginning suit under the STCA. Pursuant to § 81-8,227(1), before suit can be filed under the STCA, a claimant must submit the claim in writing to the Risk Manager within 2 years after the claim accrued. Generally speaking, a claimant cannot file suit under the STCA until the Risk Manager or State Claims Board makes a final disposition of the claim, but if no final disposition of a claim has been made after 6 months, the claimant is permitted to withdraw the claim and file suit under the STCA.3

Page 927

Section 81-8 ,227 also contains several provisions that allow the 2-year limitations period to be extended under certain circumstances. For instance, § 81-8227(1) provides: [304 Neb. 782] The time to begin suit under [the STCA] shall be extended for a period of six months from the date of mailing of notice to the claimant by the Risk Manager or State Claims Board as to the final disposition of the claim or from the date of withdrawal of the claim under section 81-8,213 if the time to begin suit would otherwise expire before the end of such period.4

Section 81-8,227(3) provides that if a claim is "made or filed under any other law of this state and a determination is made by a state agency or court" that the STCA is the exclusive remedy, "the time to make a claim and begin suit ... shall be extended for a period of six months." And § 81-8,227(4) provides that if a claim is brought under the Nebraska Hospital-Medical Liability Act, time to begin suit under the STCA can be extended for 90 days.

Section 81-8,227(5) expressly states: "This section and section 25-213 shall constitute the only statutes of limitations applicable to the [STCA]." Generally speaking, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-213 (Reissue 2016) tolls the running of the statute of limitations for certain claims, including those under the STCA, if a person is "within the age of twenty years, a person with a mental disorder, or imprisoned" when the claim accrues.

SAYLOR’S TORT CLAIM

Saylor is an inmate in the custody of DCS. On September 14, 2012, he filed a claim with the State Claims Board pursuant to the STCA.5 Summarized, the claim asserted that on multiple occasions, employees and agents of DCS negligently failed to provide him necessary medical care. No one contends that Saylor failed to timely submit his claim to the State Claims Board within 2 years of the date it accrued.

On October 19, 2012, the State Claims Board mailed its denial of Saylor’s claim. As such, under § 81-8,227(1), Saylor had 6 months from that date to file suit under the STCA. The [304 Neb. 783] Legislature has vested exclusive jurisdiction to hear, determine, and render judgment on any suit or tort claim under the STCA in the district court of the county in which the act or omission complained of occurred.6

SAYLOR FILES TORT ACTION

Saylor filed the instant action in the district court for Lancaster County on May 30, 2017. The named defendants included the State, DCS, and 10 others alleged to be employed by DCS. The 2017 complaint appears to allege the same claims of negligent medical care that Saylor presented to the State Claims Board, and no one contends otherwise. Saylor’s 2017 complaint also alleged civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012) against the same defendants, premised on the same facts.

On December 6, 2017, the district court dismissed Saylor’s complaint against several defendants who, according to the court file, had not been served within the statutory time period.7

ACTION REMOVED TO FEDERAL COURT

On December 8, 2017, the State and DCS filed a notice of removal to federal district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP
11 practice notes
  • 948 N.W.2d 212 (Neb. 2020), S-19-857, AVG Partners I, LLC v. Genesis Health Clubs of Midwest, LLC
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • September 4, 2020
    ...note 80. [114] Id. at 878, 902 N.W.2d at 146. [115] Id. at 878, 902 N.W.2d at 147. [116] Saylor v. State, 304 Neb. 779, 936 N.W.2d 924...
  • 946 N.W.2d 669 (Neb. 2020), S-19-875, In re Estate of Hutton
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • July 24, 2020
    ...[22] In re Guardianship of Suezanne P., supra note 9. [23] In re Adoption of Kailynn D., supra note 11. [24] Saylor v. State, 304 Neb. 779, 936 N.W.2d 924 [1] Neb. Rev. Stat. § § 30-401 to 30-406, 30-701 to 30-713, 30-2201 to 30-2902, 30-3901 to 30-3923, 30-4001 to ......
  • Saylor v. State, 011020 NESC, S-18-793
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • January 10, 2020
    ...304 Neb. 779 James Saylor, State of Nebraska et al., appellees. No. S-18-793 Supreme Court of Nebraska January 10, 2020 1. Tort Claims Act: Actions: Time. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8, 227 (Reissue 2014) sets out a 2-year limitations period that governs not just the time for submit......
  • Brumbaugh v. Bendorf, 062620 NESC, S-19-732
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • June 26, 2020
    ...supplied). [35] Brown v. State, 305 Neb. 111, 939 N.W.2d 354 (2020). [36] § 25-1708. [37] Saylor v. State, 304 Neb. 779, 936 N.W.2d 924...
  • Free signup to view additional results
11 cases
  • 948 N.W.2d 212 (Neb. 2020), S-19-857, AVG Partners I, LLC v. Genesis Health Clubs of Midwest, LLC
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • September 4, 2020
    ...note 80. [114] Id. at 878, 902 N.W.2d at 146. [115] Id. at 878, 902 N.W.2d at 147. [116] Saylor v. State, 304 Neb. 779, 936 N.W.2d 924...
  • 946 N.W.2d 669 (Neb. 2020), S-19-875, In re Estate of Hutton
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • July 24, 2020
    ...[22] In re Guardianship of Suezanne P., supra note 9. [23] In re Adoption of Kailynn D., supra note 11. [24] Saylor v. State, 304 Neb. 779, 936 N.W.2d 924 [1] Neb. Rev. Stat. § § 30-401 to 30-406, 30-701 to 30-713, 30-2201 to 30-2902, 30-3901 to 30-3923, 30-4001 to ......
  • Saylor v. State, 011020 NESC, S-18-793
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • January 10, 2020
    ...304 Neb. 779 James Saylor, State of Nebraska et al., appellees. No. S-18-793 Supreme Court of Nebraska January 10, 2020 1. Tort Claims Act: Actions: Time. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8, 227 (Reissue 2014) sets out a 2-year limitations period that governs not just the time for submit......
  • Brumbaugh v. Bendorf, 062620 NESC, S-19-732
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • June 26, 2020
    ...supplied). [35] Brown v. State, 305 Neb. 111, 939 N.W.2d 354 (2020). [36] § 25-1708. [37] Saylor v. State, 304 Neb. 779, 936 N.W.2d 924...
  • Free signup to view additional results