Saylor v. State, 011020 NESC, S-18-793

Docket Nº:S-18-793
Opinion Judge:Stacy, J.
Party Name:James Saylor, appellant, v. State of Nebraska et al., appellees.
Attorney:Michael J. Wilson, of Schaefer Shapiro, L.L.R, 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, W...
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
 
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304 Neb. 779

James Saylor, appellant,

v.

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 submitting claims to the Risk Manager, but also the time for beginning suit under the State Tort Claims Act.

2. ___:___: ___. 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. ___: ___: ___. 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. ___: ___. 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. ___:___ . 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. ___ .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.

Appeal from the District Court for Lancaster County: Robert R. Otte, Judge.

Michael J. Wilson, of Schaefer Shapiro, L.L.R, 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.R, for appellee Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C.

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

Stacy, J.

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...

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