Newlan v. State, Nos. 11561

CourtIdaho Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSHEPARD; McQUADE; Reynoldson
Citation96 Idaho 711,535 P.2d 1348
PartiesRoland NEWLAN and Frances Newlan, husband and wife, Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. The STATE of Idaho, Defendant and Respondent, and Thelma Schwartz as Administratrix of the Estate of Frank Harrison and Patricia Rippee and Michael Harrison Rippee, respectively, and the Allstate Insurance Company, Inc., Defendants. Frank AGOST and Juanita Agost, Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. The STATE of Idaho, Defendant and Respondent.
Decision Date30 April 1975
Docket NumberNos. 11561,11655

Page 1348

535 P.2d 1348
96 Idaho 711
Roland NEWLAN and Frances Newlan, husband and wife, Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
The STATE of Idaho, Defendant and Respondent,
and
Thelma Schwartz as Administratrix of the Estate of Frank Harrison and Patricia Rippee and Michael Harrison Rippee, respectively, and the Allstate Insurance Company, Inc., Defendants.
Frank AGOST and Juanita Agost, Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
The STATE of Idaho, Defendant and Respondent.
Nos. 11561, 11655.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
April 30, 1975.
Rehearing Denied June 10, 1975.

[96 Idaho 712]

Page 1349

Lloyd J. Webb of Webb, Pike, Burton & Carlson, Twin Falls, for defendants and appellants Newlan.

Nicholas Chenoweth, Orofino, Eli Rapaich, Lewiston, for defendants and appellants Agost.

W. Anthony Park, Atty. Gen., Peter C. Jenkins and Michael A. Greene, of Eberle, Berlin, Kading, Turnbow & Gillespie, chartered, Sp. Asst. Attys. Gen., Boise, for defendant and respondent.

Peter Heiser, Jr., of Kidwell & Heiser, Boise, as amicus curiae.

SHEPARD, Justice.

These are appeals in two separate actions from dismissal of plaintiffs' actions against the State as the result of automobile accidents. The cases present similar facts, give rise to nearly identical questions of law and therefore were consolidated upon appeal. The principal questions involve the constitutionality and correct interpretation of two sections of the Idaho Tort Claims Act enacted in 1971.

The facts as they relate to the Newlan case are as follows. Linda Newlan, the daughter of appellants Newlan, died on June 5, 1971 as the result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident which occurred June 1, 1971. On May 24, 1973 the Newlans filed a notice of claim against the State of Idaho for the wrongful death of their daughter. On June 1, 1973 the instant action was filed against the State and other defendants for wrongful death as a result of a slippery highway caused by inappropriate paving materials specified by the Idaho Department of Highways. The State moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that a claim for the damages had not been presented and filed with the Secretary of State within 120 days from the date the claim arose, or reasonably should have been discovered, as required by I.C. §§ 6-905-908. The motion was granted, the case dismissed and this appeal results.

The facts of the Agost case are similar. On July 31, 1972 Dale F. Agost, son of plaintiffs-appellants Agost died as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident which occurred that same day. On May 23, 1973 appellants Agost filed a notice of claim against the State of Idaho and then on September 5, 1973 commenced the instant action against the State for the wrongful death of their son alleging that it [96 Idaho 713]

Page 1350

resulted from the slippery condition of the road where the accident took place. As in the Newlan case, the complaint was dismissed for failure to comply with I.C. § 6-905, and this appeal results.

In Smith v. State, 93 Idaho 795, 473 P.2d 937 (1970) this court abrogated the doctrine of sovereign immunity in the State of Idaho. The court stated that the holding would govern only:

'* * * future causes of action arising on or after 60 days subsequent to the adjournment of the First Regular Session of the Forty-First Idaho State Legislature unless legislation is enacted at that session with respect to the abolition of the sovereign immunity of the state.' Smith, supra, at 808, 473 P.2d at 950.

Thus Smith was to apply only prospectively and only in the absence of legislation. That holding was reiterated in Dawson v. Olson, 94 Idaho 636, 496 P.2d 97 (1972); Rathbun v. Department of Highways, 94 Idaho 700, 496 P.2d 937 (1972); Sims v. State, 94 Idaho 801, 498 P.2d 1274 (1972).

In 1971 in response to Smith the Idaho Legislature passed a comprehensive Idaho Tort Claims Act. That enactment exposed the State to more liability than did the court in Smith, extending state liability, with some exceptions, to include situations wherein the State was acting in a governmental capacity. The court in Smith had held the State liable only when it acted in a proprietary capacity. The Tort Claims Act also set forth certain procedural requirements such as I.C. § 6-905, which is at the core of this case and which provides:

'Filing claims against state-Time.-All claims against the state arising under the provisions of this act shall be presented to and filed with the secretary of state within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date the claim arose or reasonably should have been discovered, whichever is later.'

In both the instant cases it is undisputed that the notices of claims were not filed within 120 days of the respective deaths when the cause of action arose. In Agost the claim was filed 296 days after the accident and in Newlan the time was a full 719 days after the death. Nevertheless appellants argue their claims should not have been dismissed. They challenge first the constitutionality of the above statute on equal protection grounds and further argue that even if constitutional, the statute does not mandate dismissal under the facts of the cases. The Agosts further argue that even if the statute is applicable, their actions indicate that their claim was filed within 120 days of the time they reasonably discovered their claim notwithstanding the fact that the claim was actually filed 296 days after the accident.

Appellants argue that the constitution prohibits the statutory establishment of two classes and discrimination against one of those classes since such is a denial of equal protection of the laws and thus our notice requirement is unconstitutional. That argument has been accepted in two states, Michigan and Nevada, and they have nullified their notice statutes. Reich v. State Highway Department, 386 Mich. 617, 194 N.W.2d 700 (1972); Turner v. Staggs, 510 P.2d 879 (Nev.1973), cert. den., Clark County v. Turner, 414 U.S. 1079, 94 S.Ct. 598, 38 L.Ed.2d 486 (1973).

The statute under consideration herein does distinguish between two types of tort claimants but it is not every statutory classification that violates the equal protection clause. Stucki v. Loveland, 94 Idaho 621, 495 P.2d 571 (1972). As reviewed in Stucki the United States Supreme Court has approached the problem of statutory classification on a two-tier basis. If the classification is suspect because it is based on matters such as race, national origin or alienage, or the statute infringes upon fundamental rights such as voting, procreation or rights regarding criminal procedure then strict judicial scrutiny is applied and the classification scheme will be upheld only if necessary to further a compelling state interest. In the [96 Idaho 714]

Page 1351

absence of such 'suspect' classification or infringement upon a fundamental right a traditional test will be applied to resolve the question of rational basis and all inferences as to constitutionality of statutes are indulged. Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S.Ct. 1322, 22 L.Ed.2d 600 (1969); San Antonio, etc., School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 93 S.Ct. 1278, 36 L.Ed.2d 16 (1973).

There is no contention here that the establishment of a class of persons with tort claims against the state falls into a category of a 'suspect' class. There are relatively few classifications which have been held to be suspect and among them are race, McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184, 85 S.C. 283, 13 L.Ed.2d 222 (1964); alienage, Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 91 S.Ct. 1848, 29 L.Ed.2d 534 (1971); ancestry, Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633, 68 S.Ct. 269, 92 L.Ed. 249 (1947), and perhaps sex, Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71, 92 S.Ct. 251, 30 L.Ed.2d 225 (1971). However, also see Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 93 S.Ct. 1764, 36 L.Ed.2d 583 (1973). For fundamental constitutional rights see Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S.Ct. 705, 35 L.Ed.2d 147 (1973); Shapiro v. Thompson, supra; Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 92 S.Ct. 995, 31 L.Ed.2d 274 (1972); Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 62 S.Ct. 1110, 86 L.Ed. 1655 (1942); Williams v. Rhodes, 393 U.S. 23, 89 S.Ct. 5, 21 L.Ed.2d 24 (1968).

Although appellants argue that Boddie v. State of Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 91 S.Ct. 780, 28 L.Ed.2d 113 (1971) is applicable to the case at bar, we disagree. There the question was the ability to obtain access to the courts and denial thereof on the basis of wealth. The instant case does not involve that problem since all persons obtain the ability to sue the state regardless of wealth or the lack thereof insolong as they conform to the precedent statutory conditions.

We hold that the instant statute does not establish a suspect classification and establish a discrimination against one class nor does the instant statute infringe upon a fundamental right and therefore the traditional equal protection test is applicable herein. This court in Evans v. Idaho State Tax Commission, 95 Idaho 54, 57-58, 501 P.2d 1054, 1057-1058 (1972) quoting McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 425-426, 81 S.Ct. 1101, 1105, 6 L.Ed.2d 393 (1961) stated:

"* * * the Fourteenth Amendment permits the States a wide scope of discretion in enacting laws which affect some groups of citizens differently than others. The constitutional safeguard is offended only if the classification rests on grounds wholly irrelevant to the achievement of the State's objective. State legislatures are presumed to have acted within their constitutional power despite the fact that, in practice, their laws result in some inequality. A statutory discrimination will not be set aside if any state of facts may be conceived to justify it."

We hold that there are legitimate reasons for the statutory requirement of notice. See Jorstad v. City of Lewiston, 93 Idaho 122, 456 P.2d 766 (1969). There the court stated at 125, 456 P.2d at 769:

'* * * such a statute gives the city time to negotiate an amicable accord with an injured...

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46 practice notes
  • James v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Authority
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • May 24, 1983
    ...University, 219 Kan. 2, 16, 547 P.2d 1015, 1027 (1976) appeal dismissed 429 U.S. 806, 97 S.Ct. 41, 50 L.Ed.2d 67 (1976); Newlan v. State, 96 Idaho 711, 713, 535 P.2d 1348, 1350-1351 (1975), appeal dismissed sub nom Agost v. Idaho, 423 U.S. 993, 96 S.Ct. 419, 46 L.Ed.2d 367 (1975). Under thi......
  • Overman v. Klein, No. 13641
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 27, 1982
    ...the notice of claim requirement is a mandatory condition precedent to bringing suit against the state or its employee. Newlan v. State, 96 Idaho 711, 535 P.2d 1348, appeal dismissed sub nom., Agost v. Idaho, 423 U.S. 993, 96 S.Ct. 419, 46 L.Ed.2d 367 (1975); Jacaway v. State, 97 Idaho 694, ......
  • Johnson v. Maryland State Police, No. 130
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1991
    ...supra; Sadler v. New Castle County, 524 A.2d 18 (Del.Super.1987),aff'd, 565 A.2d 917 (Del.1989) (one year deadline); Newlan v. State, 96 Idaho 711, 535 P.2d 1348, appeal dismissed sub nom. Agost v. Idaho, 423 U.S. 993, 96 S.Ct. 419, 46 L.Ed.2d 367 (1975) (120-day deadline); King v. Johnson,......
  • Leliefeld v. Johnson, No. 12983
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • February 18, 1983
    ...decision abrogated the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Haeg v. City of Pocatello, 98 Idaho 315, 563 P.2d 39 (1977); Newlan v. State, 96 Idaho 711, 535 P.2d 1348 (1975). Prior to the abrogation of the sovereign Page 129 immunity doctrine, generally no right of recovery existed. The right to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
46 cases
  • James v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Authority
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • May 24, 1983
    ...University, 219 Kan. 2, 16, 547 P.2d 1015, 1027 (1976) appeal dismissed 429 U.S. 806, 97 S.Ct. 41, 50 L.Ed.2d 67 (1976); Newlan v. State, 96 Idaho 711, 713, 535 P.2d 1348, 1350-1351 (1975), appeal dismissed sub nom Agost v. Idaho, 423 U.S. 993, 96 S.Ct. 419, 46 L.Ed.2d 367 (1975). Under thi......
  • Overman v. Klein, No. 13641
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 27, 1982
    ...the notice of claim requirement is a mandatory condition precedent to bringing suit against the state or its employee. Newlan v. State, 96 Idaho 711, 535 P.2d 1348, appeal dismissed sub nom., Agost v. Idaho, 423 U.S. 993, 96 S.Ct. 419, 46 L.Ed.2d 367 (1975); Jacaway v. State, 97 Idaho 694, ......
  • Johnson v. Maryland State Police, No. 130
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1991
    ...supra; Sadler v. New Castle County, 524 A.2d 18 (Del.Super.1987),aff'd, 565 A.2d 917 (Del.1989) (one year deadline); Newlan v. State, 96 Idaho 711, 535 P.2d 1348, appeal dismissed sub nom. Agost v. Idaho, 423 U.S. 993, 96 S.Ct. 419, 46 L.Ed.2d 367 (1975) (120-day deadline); King v. Johnson,......
  • Leliefeld v. Johnson, No. 12983
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • February 18, 1983
    ...decision abrogated the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Haeg v. City of Pocatello, 98 Idaho 315, 563 P.2d 39 (1977); Newlan v. State, 96 Idaho 711, 535 P.2d 1348 (1975). Prior to the abrogation of the sovereign Page 129 immunity doctrine, generally no right of recovery existed. The right to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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