Donovan v. Yavapai Cty. Cmty. Coll. Dist. – 5/31/2018

June 12, 2018

The Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that a notice of claim sent to multiple entities may include a single lump-sum settlement demand.

A terminated employee sent a timely notice of claim to, among others, Yavapai College and the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (the “Council”), in accordance with Arizona’s notice-of-claim statute, A.R.S. § 12-821.01.  The employee alleged one cause of action against Yavapai College, and a second against the Council.  The notice stated that the employee would accept $450,000 “as full and final settlement.”  Neither entity responded to the notice.  The employee subsequently filed suit against Yavapai College only.

Yavapai College moved for summary judgment, arguing that the notice of claim was deficient because it did not set forth a specific settlement amount for the claim against the college individually.  The superior court granted the motion, and the employee appealed.

The Court of Appeals reversed.  Looking to the purpose of the notice-of-claim statute, the Court concluded that the employee’s notice satisfied A.R.S. § 12-821.01’s requirement that it set forth a “specific amount for which the claim can be settled.”  The Court rejected Yavapai College’s argument that a notice of claim alleging multiple causes of actions against multiple entities must apportion specific settlement amounts among them.  Because the notice of claim provided the college with “a definite and exact amount” that it could pay to “completely satisfy its liability,” the Court concluded that the statutory requirements were met.

Judge Cattani wrote the opinion; Judge Johnsen and Judge Perkins joined.