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Marziale v. Spanish Fork City

Supreme Court of Utah

August 22, 2017

Carole Marziale and James Marziale, Respondents,
v.
Spanish Fork City, Petitioner.

         On Certiorari to the Utah Court of Appeals

         Fourth District, Provo The Honorable Darold J. McDade No. 130401364

          Mark T. Flickinger, Provo, for respondents

          John M. Zidow, S. Spencer Brown, Salt Lake City, for petitioner

          Justice Himonas authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Durrant, Associate Chief Justice Lee, Justice Durham, and Justice Pearce joined.

          OPINION

          HIMONAS JUSTICE.

         INTRODUCTION

         ¶ 1 This appeal requires us to decide whether a credit card error that caused Carole and James Marziale's complaint against Spanish Fork City (the City) to be rejected means that their complaint and the attached undertaking were not timely filed. We affirm the court of appeals and hold that the payment error did not affect the timeliness of the Marziales' filing.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶ 2 The Marziales submitted a complaint against the City alleging that Ms. Marziale was injured from a fall at the City's sports complex on July 11, 2011. The Marziales first submitted a complaint in the Spanish Fork division of the Fourth Judicial District through the court's e-filing system at 4:10 p.m. on August 2, 2013.[1] Their complaint, however, did not include a notice of undertaking as required by the Governmental Immunity Act of Utah and was automatically rejected in a matter of seconds by the e-filing system. A printout of the "filing status" for this complaint from the Utah State Bar's "eFiling portal" stated that the system "returned a 'failure' status during the validation step" because "this court accepts only claims 20000 or less; you submitted 'unspecified.'" The Marziales contend that they did not receive this notice.

         ¶ 3 At 4:20 p.m. that same day, the Marziales filed the same complaint against the City, but this time with an undertaking and in the Provo division of the Fourth Judicial District. The status history of this complaint shows that it was "submitted by" counsel for the Marziales on August 2, 2013, at 4:20:08 p.m., and the status history showed both "approved" and "receipt issued" at 4:41:56 p.m. The status history also showed that a clerk manually rejected the filing at 4:41:56 p.m., setting the status to "invalid." The rejection contained the contact information for the clerk and a message that said, "A credit card error has occurred; please resubmit filing with valid credit card information for fee payment. You may want to try re-entering the credit card information, or a different credit card, before resubmitting." The Marziales state that they did not receive this notice.

          ¶ 4 The statute of limitations for the Marziales' claim expired on September 6 or 7, 2013. On September 10, 2013, counsel for the Marziales was unable to locate the filings on the court's system and an employee of the law firm contacted the Fourth District Court. The Marziales state that this is when they first learned the filings had been rejected. The Marziales refiled the complaint and undertaking in the Provo division on September 10, 2013, and it was accepted with proper payment.

         ¶ 5 The City then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction over the Marziales' action because the September 10 filing date was outside of the statute of limitations. The Marziales filed an opposition to the City's motion and a motion to correct the record, asking the district court to change the date of their filing from September 10, 2013 to August 2, 2013. The court granted the City summary judgment and denied the Marziales' motion, finding that the Marziales' complaint had not been filed until September 10, 2013.

         ¶ 6 The Marziales appealed. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed, holding that "the complaint's electronic receipt was the meaningful equivalent of its acceptance" and therefore the complaint was filed on August 2, 2013. Marziale ...


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