Batty v. Glendale Union High School Dist. No. 205 – 6/2/2009

June 5, 2009

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds that Notice of Claim Against School District Must Be Served on the District Governing Board, Not Superintendent.

Plaintiff filed suit against a school district (“District”) for injuries allegedly resulting from an accident on school grounds.  The District moved for summary judgment, alleging that Plaintiff had failed to comply with A.R.S. § 12-821.01(A) by not serving a notice of claim on the District’s governing board.  The superior court granted summary judgment to the District.  Plaintiff appealed.

Section 12-821.01(A) requires filing a notice of claim against a public entity within 180 days after a cause of action accrues.  Rule 4.1(i), Ariz. R. Civ. P., provides that service on a governmental subdivision of the state is affected by delivery “to the chief executive officer, the secretary, clerk, or recording officer thereof.”  The Arizona Supreme Court has held that a county board of supervisors constitutes the county “chief executive officer” (“CEO”) for purposes of Rule 4.1(i).  Falcon ex rel. Sandoval v. Maricopa County, 213 Ariz. 525, 531 ¶ 34, 144 P.3d 1254, 1260 (2006).

The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the District.  The Court rejected Plaintiff’s argument that he satisfied § 12-821.02(A) by serving the District superintendent, who Plaintiff claimed was the District’s CEO for purposes of Rule 4.1(i).  The Court held that the decision in Falcon was controlling and that the District governing board thus constituted the District CEO for purposes of Rule 4.1(i).  The Court also rejected Plaintiff’s argument that Falcon did not apply retroactively, reasoning that the Arizona Supreme Court had applied its ruling retroactively in the Falcon decision itself.     

Presiding Judge Weisberg wrote the opinion; Judges Gemmill and Barker concurred.