WILLIAM RUMBURG and CAROL RUMBURG, husband and wife and the marital community comprised thereof, Appellants,
FERRY COUNTY PUBLIC UTILITY DISTRICT #1, A PUBLIC UTILITY COMPANY; and JOHN DOE(S), Respondents.
Judges Siddoway, Pennell, Korsmo.
B. FEARING, Chief Judge.
COURT on its own motion finds that the opinion filed November
16, 2017, should be withdrawn. Therefore, IT IS ORDERED, the
court's opinion filed November 16, 2017, is hereby
withdrawn and a new opinion will be filed this day.
issue is whether William and Carol Rumburg timely filed suit
under tolling and grace periods provided by RCW 4.96.020, the
local government tort claim filing statute. After serving a
second notice of claim on local government defendants and
allowing 60 days for the defendants to respond, the Rumburgs
relied on the statutory 5-day grace period in filing suit.
The respondents contend that the 5-day grace period could
apply only after the Rumburgs' first, early, notice of
resolving reasonable questions about how the tolling
provision operates, the Washington Supreme Court has provided
a bright-line clarification, repeated several times in
published decisions, that the tolling provision adds 60 days
to the end of the otherwise applicable statute of
limitations. Given this construction of the statute and its
2009 amendment requiring procedural requirements to be
"liberally construed so that substantial compliance will
be deemed satisfactory, " we construe RCW 4.96.020(4) to
apply the 5-day grace period after the 60-day extension of
the statute of limitations. The Rumburgs' action was
16, 2012, William Rumburg suffered injuries at an event in
Republic City Park from the collapse of a tent set up by
Ferry County Public Utility District No. 1 (PUD). Mr. Rumburg
submitted a handwritten notice of tort claim to the PUD on
November 30, 2012.
two and a half years later, on June 28, 2015, the Rumburgs
had their first consultation with their current lawyer. The
lawyer, unaware of the earlier notice of tort claim, filed a
second notice of claim on July 14, 2015. Sixty-three days
later, on September 15, 2015, he filed a summons and
eventually filed a motion to dismiss the Rumburgs' action
as time barred, based on the more than 3 year and 60 day
passage of time between Mr. Rumburg's July 16, 2012
injury and the September 15, 2015 commencement of the
lawsuit. The trial court granted the motion to
dismiss. The Rumburgs appeal.
chapter 4.96 RCW, the legislature has waived the sovereign
immunity of local government entities and their officers,
employees or volunteers, but has required that "[f]iling
a claim for damages within the time allowed by law shall be a
condition precedent to the commencement of any action
claiming damages." RCW 4.96.010(1). After a notice of a
tort claim is presented to a local government defendant, the
plaintiff must wait until 60 days have elapsed before
commencing a lawsuit. RCW 4.96.020(4). "The purpose of
this claim is 'to allow government entities time to
investigate, evaluate, and settle claims' before they are
sued." Renner v. City of Marysville, 168 Wn.2d
540, 545, 230 P.3d 569 (2010) (quoting Medina v. Pub.
Util. Dist. No. 1 of Benton County, 147 Wn.2d 303, 310,
53 P.3d 993 (2002)).
notice of claim requirement would effectively shorten the
limitations period for tort claims against local government
defendants by 60 days were it not for parallel language in