Yahweh v. City of Phoenix, __ Ariz. Adv. Rep. __ No. 1 CA-CV 160207 (App. Div. I, July 11, 2017) (J. Beene)
NOTICE OF CLAIM RECITING AMOUNT PLAINTIFF WILL PLEAD IN COMPLAINT DOES NOT SATISFY REQUIREMENT NOTICE ARTICULATE AMOUNT PLAINTIFF WOULD ACCEPT TO SETTLE ALL CLAIMS
Plaintiff, was a detective with the City of Phoenix Police Department [Department]. His relationship with the Department went bad and he was placed on a “Brady List.” This is a list the Department must maintain consisting of police officers who have been accused of professional misconduct. Prosecutors are required to inform criminal defendants if an officer involved in their arrest is on this list.
Plaintiff served a Notice of Claim [NOC] on the City pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-821.01(A) seeking damages for defamation and violation of the Family Medical Leave Act. The notice stated he would seek $1.5 million in a lawsuit for loss of projected earnings if the matter was not first settled and that in order to “achieve an agreeable resolution” the city should contact his lawyer.
The City of Phoenix did not respond to the NOC within 60 days rendering the NOC denied by operation of law. Plaintiff then sued for defamation, false light and violation of due process. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit under rule 12(b)(6) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure based upon plaintiff's failure to state a sum certain he would accept to settle. The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed.
The court of appeals noted a proper NOC must “contain a specific amount for which the claim can be settled and the facts supporting that amount.” A.R.S. § 12-821.01(A). ”This language unmistakably instructs claimants to include a particular and certain amount of money that, if agreed to by the government entity, will settle the claim.”
Plaintiff's NOC failed to meet this standard because it did not state a sum certain which would settle all claims. It was nothing more than an invitation to negotiate. The government is under no obligation to assist claimants with statutory compliance.