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HERNANDEZ v. MCCLANAHAN

March 4, 1998

DENNES HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
ISAAC McCLANAHAN; JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT; DETECTIVE JIM MURPHY; CITY OF DALY CITY, CA; OFFICER ROBERT W. LOWN; OFFICER TAYLOR; SGT. BAIRD; DETECTIVE MIKE MITCHELL; CITY OF FAIRFIELD, CA; COUNTY OF SAN MATEO, CA; COUNTY OF SOLANO, CA; AND DOES 1 - 50, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WALKER

 Plaintiff Dennes Hernandez brings this action against several public entities and their employees under 42 USC § 1983 claiming various civil rights violations. Hernandez also asserts various tort claims against these defendants pursuant to the California Tort Claims Act of 1963 (CTCA). See Cal Govt Code § 810 et seq. Currently pending before the court is Hernandez's petition for relief from the CTCA's claim filing requirements. For the following reasons, the court will dismiss Hernandez's petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and dismiss his CTCA claims without prejudice.

 I

 On December 3, 1996, Daly City police officers arrested Hernandez for shop-lifting and commercial burglary. The police held Hernandez in custody for two weeks. When the charges against him were dismissed, he was released. During Hernandez's detention, his father hired an attorney for him. Advised by this attorney, Hernandez decided to bring suit for unlawful arrest and detention. The attorney promised to file suit "in a nearby court" and call Hernandez soon thereafter.

 According to Hernandez, between February and July 1997, the attorney failed to return Hernandez's calls. *fn1" In early July, Hernandez finally spoke to the attorney, but they never had a meeting. Hernandez continued to attempt to schedule a meeting with the attorney, but these efforts proved fruitless.

 II

 Like all other states, California enjoys sovereign immunity against tort claims for money damages. The CTCA represents a limited waiver of this immunity. Plaintiffs can therefore bring tort claims against state and local public entities only if the plaintiffs comply with the strict procedural requirements enumerated in the CTCA. See Cal Govt Code § 815. Among the procedural prerequisites for suit is the CTCA's requirement that a claimant file a written claim with the proper public entity. See id §§ 905 and 905.2. Such a claim must be presented to the relevant public entity no later than six months after the cause of action accrued. See id § 911.2. Compliance with the CTCA filing requirements is mandatory; failure to present a claim within this six month period is a bar to future tort suits. See San Jose v Superior Court, 12 Cal. 3d 447, 455, 115 Cal. Rptr. 797, 525 P.2d 701 (1974). In the instant case, Hernandez failed to present timely claims to the relevant public entities, and unless he obtains relief from the requirements of the CTCA, he is barred from bringing his tort claims.

 A claimant who fails to present a timely claim to the relevant public entity has two avenues for relief from the CTCA's requirements. First, pursuant to section 911.4, the claimant must present a written application for leave to present a late claim to the relevant entity. The claimant must do so no more than one year after the cause of action accrued. See id § 911.4 (claimant must also specify a reason for his delay in presenting the claim). As mentioned above, Hernandez filed timely applications for leave to file late claims, but these applications were denied.

 In the event that such applications are denied, a claimant may seek judicial relief from the CTCA's requirements. See Cal Govt Code § 946.6. Currently before the court is Hernandez's section 946.6 petition.

 III

 Hernandez asserts that the court has supplemental jurisdiction over both his state law claims and his section 946.6 petition pursuant to 28 USC § 1367. The court finds, however, that (1) it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the pending petition and (2) Hernandez's state law claims fail to state a cause of action. The court will address each of these issues in turn.

 A

 Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time and by any party. See American Fire & Casualty Co v Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 16-18, 95 L. Ed. 702, 71 S. Ct. 534 (1951); Attorneys Trust v Videotape Computer Prods, Inc, 93 F.3d 593, 594-95 (9th Cir 1996); Morongo Band of Mission Indians v California State Board of Equalization, 858 F.2d 1376, 1380 (9th Cir 1988). A district court may sua sponte raise the issue of lack of subject ...


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