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OSBORN v. SALINAS

5/19/1998

This is an appeal from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Centennial High School and the Meridian School District (the School District). The district court held that (1) Michelle Osborn failed to give timely notice of her tort claim pursuant to section 6-906A of the Idaho Tort Claims
Act (ITCA), and (2) any federal claims brought by Osborn were barred by the statute of limitations.


I.


FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND


Michelle Osborn attended Centennial High School from 1989 to 1991. During that time Oscar Salinas was employed as a teacher at Centennial High School by the Meridian School District. On December 13, 1995, Osborn filed a complaint against Salinas alleging assault, battery and sexual abuse. Osborn also filed a complaint against the School District alleging negligence and civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.


The School District moved for summary judgment on the basis that: (1) Osborn failed to give timely notice of her claims pursuant to section 6-906A of the ITCA, and (2) the § 1983 claims are barred by the statute of limitations. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the School District.


Osborn argues that: (1) section 6-906A of the ITCA does not govern sexual abuse actions brought by minors; instead, Chapter 17 of the Idaho Code, entitled "Tort Actions in Child Abuse Cases," is applicable as it was specifically intended to address the sexual abuse actions brought by minors, (2) the applicable statute of limitations for a § 1983 claim involving sexual abuse is section 6-1704 of the Idaho Code (I.C.), and (3) a showing of gross negligence is sufficient to maintain an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.


II.


STANDARD OF REVIEW


On appeal from a summary judgment order, this Court applies the same standard of review as that used by the district court when originally ruling on the motion. Avila v. Wahlquist, 126 Idaho 745, 747, 890 P.2d 331, 333 (1995); Farm Credit Bank of Spokane v. Stevenson, 125 Idaho 270, 272, 869 P.2d 1365, 1367 (1994). The Court must liberally construe the facts in the existing record in favor of the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences from the record in favor of the nonmoving party. Avila, 126 Idaho at 747, 890 P.2d at 333; Bonz v. Sudweeks, 119 Idaho 539, 541, 808 P.2d 876, 878 (1991). Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the nonmoving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." McCoy v. Lyons, 120 Idaho 765, 769, 820 P.2d 360, 364 (1991) (quoting I.R.C.P. 56(c)). If there are conflicting inferences contained in the record or reasonable minds might reach different conclusions, summary judgment must be denied. Bonz, 119 Idaho at 541, 808 P.2d at 878.


III.


IDAHO CODE § 6-906A APPLIES TO ALL ACTIONS BROUGHT BY MINORS, INCLUDING ACTIONS ALLEGING SEXUAL ABUSE.


The Idaho Tort Claims Act requires any party bringing a claim against a governmental entity to file a timely notice of a tort claim. Pursuant to this Act a minor must give notice within "one hundred and twenty (120) days after said person reaches the age of majority or six (6) years from the date the claim arose or should reasonably have been discovered, whichever is earlier." I.C. § 6-906A. It is undisputed that under I.C. § 6-906A, Osborn failed to give timely notice to the School District of her tort claim.


Osborn argues that I.C. § 6-906A should not govern sexual abuse actions brought by minors. Instead, Chapter 17 of the Idaho Code e

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