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Oklahoma Supreme Court affirms dismissal of boy's lawsuit against school over bus collision

State Court

By Charmaine Little | Oct 11, 2019

Schoolbus 1280

OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) – On Sept. 24, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled on a case concerning a then-6-year-old who was hit by a Mounds Public Schools bus in 2012.

The high court affirmed the Okmulgee County District Court's order that dismissed the case with prejudice because it was untimely.

Minor child I.T.K. sued the school district through his parents after getting hit by a bus over allegations the school bus driver’s negligence caused his injuries. He sued in the District Court more than a year after he was taken to the hospital and received four staples for a laceration. 

He alleged he suffered medical-related expenses totaling $6,209.30 plus another expense that wasn’t known because of the incident. He also sought $10,000 for pain and suffering.

The state's high court was asked to answer three questions regarding Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims, a question from an insurance adjuster and the time limit of settlement negotiations.

The Supreme Court determined the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims notice sent by mail to the superintendent is sufficient, and that an insurance adjuster’s request for more details did not toll the GTCA time limit of 90 days. It also ruled that a one-sided request from I.T.K. for settlement negotiations didn’t line up with 51 O.S. 157 to toll the GTCA time limit.

"We hold: when a superintendent of a school board receives a written GTCA notice, the superintendent has received the GTCA notice for the board and should transmit the notice to the proper clerk of the board for filing the appropriate action," Justice James E. Edmondson wrote. "We agree with the district court’s conclusion the January 2012 letter received by the superintendent was a notice of claim for the purpose of the GTCA, but for the reasons stated herein."

As for the insurance adjuster, the Supreme Court backed the school district’s argument that the plaintiff’s claim was denied 90 days after Jan. 30, 2012, and that he had 180 days from then to sue. The insurance adjuster asking for more information didn’t press pause on the timeframe for the school district to analyze the claim or even for the time to start the lawsuit in the district court. The dates are a result of the plaintiff sending a letter to the school on Sept. 5, 2012. 

“Even if it was mailed as alleged in counsel’s affidavit, [it] was untimely to respond to the request for more information and was not effective to toll the GTCA time limits,” Edmondson wrote.

Edmondson also pointed out the fact that I.T.K. had to sue within 180 days of the date his claim was denied by the school district.

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