The Appellate Group

Pead v. Ephraim City

Pead v. Ephraim City, 2020 UT App 113 (Pohlman, J.)

Employment / Statute of Limitations

A city employee resigned on June 28, 2017, because of illegal conduct in his department. He filed a notice of claim under the Governmental Immunity Act on October 25, 2017. The city did not respond, and the employee filed a lawsuit on December 26, 2017, under the Whistleblower Act. The city moved to dismiss the employee’s claim, arguing that the lawsuit was filed prematurely under the Government Immunity Act and late under the Whistleblower Act. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the claim. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The Governmental Immunity Act requires parties to wait 60 days for a government entity to respond to a notice of claim. The Whistleblower Act requires a party to file suit within 180 days of the adverse employment action. When these two statutes intersect (when an employee is suing a government employer under the Whistleblower Act), parties must file their notice of claim under the Governmental Immunity Act with enough time to give the government the full 60 days to respond before filing a lawsuit, and the party must file the lawsuit before the 180-day limitation period expires. 
  • Here, the 60-day period for the State to respond to the notice of claim extended until December 26, 2017. The sixtieth day landed on December 24, 2017. But under Utah Code § 68-3-7, if the last day of a period lands on a legal holiday, a person must compute the period of time to include the end of the next day that is not a legal holiday. Thus, the final day for the city to respond was December 26, 2017. Because the employee filed his lawsuit on December 26, the employee’s lawsuit was premature and improper under the Government Immunity Act. 
  • Because the earliest the employee could have filed the lawsuit after waiting the 60-day period under the Government Immunity Act was December 27, 2017, the employee’s lawsuit was one day late under the 180-day Whistleblower Act limitation period and thus untimely.

Read the full court opinion