Haab v. Maricopa County – 6/5/2008

June 10, 2008

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That a Claimant Who Has Filed a Notice of Claim Alleging Wrongdoing by a Public Entity Must Amend His Notice or File a New Notice to Preserve Claims for Subsequent Related but Different Wrongdoing by the Same Entity or Employee.

Haab filed a notice of claim againstMaricopaCounty pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-821.01, alleging he had been wrongfully arrested and accused of aggravated assault.  He claimed he was entitled to $1 million in damages under various legal theories.  After Haab filed his notice of claim, the Sherriff’s Office responded to a reporter’s public records request and disclosed certain medical and mental health information it had obtained about Haab.  The notice of claim was denied.  Haab then filed a complaint and a subsequent amended complaint that alleged various theories of recovery related to the County’s acquisition and disclosure of the records (rather than his arrest and incarceration).  The County moved for summary judgment, asserting in its reply brief that Haab’s claims were barred because they had not been included in his notice of claim and that the notice lacked facts required by statute to support the amount necessary to support the claimed damages.  The trial court granted summary judgment and this appeal followed. 

Judge Johnsen, writing for a unanimous panel, affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Haab’s amended complaint, holding that a notice of claim that alleges one set of wrongs by a public entity or employee does not provide adequate notice of subsequent or related by different wrongs by the same entity or employee.  The Court rejected Haab’s argument that the County “necessarily” would have discovered the subsequent wrongdoing if it had investigated the original wrongdoing.  A claimant must amend his notice or file a new notice to preserve claims based on a second set of acts by the same public entity or employee.

Judge Johnsen authored the opinion; Judges Barker and Irvine concurred.