Notice of Claim filed against Carefree over ‘hazardous trees’

Robert Jacobsen
Robert Jacobsen

CAREFREE – On May 17, Robert Jacobsen filed a Notice of Claim against the town of Carefree and Mayor Les Peterson, the statutory prerequisite to filing a lawsuit against a public entity or public employee, claiming the bicycle lane project has caused hazardous trees in the median that continue to encroach into the roadway.

The claim is generic and only calls out Cave Creek Road in Carefree and does not specify where the alleged hazardous conditions exist.

Jacobsen has raised the issue three times during Call to the Public at Carefree Town Council meetings since December of last year and has spoken to Peterson as well.

Jacobsen does not indicate he has suffered any injury or damages from the encroaching trees in his Notice and, under the section titled “Describe Damage to Property,” only states: “Possible death from overgrown trees, possible automobile accidents and possible lawsuits from accidents” due to the town’s negligence.

No injured parties or damages are listed but Jacobsen calls out Peterson, Carefree Town Committee (presumably meaning the town council) and Administrative Assistant Vicki Zimmerman as witnesses.

In the section requiring he specify the amount for which his claim can be settled, Jacobsen wrote, “Cost to correct: TBD.”

Jacobsen also neglected to sign the Notice.

According to A.R.S.12-821.01(A): “Persons who have claims against a public entity, public school or a public employee shall file claims with the person or persons authorized to accept service for the public entity, public school or public employee as set forth in the Arizona rules of civil procedure within one hundred eighty days after the cause of action accrues. The claim shall contain facts sufficient to permit the public entity, public school or public employee to understand the basis on which liability is claimed. The claim shall also contain a specific amount for which the claim can be settled and the facts supporting that amount. Any claim that is not filed within one hundred eighty days after the cause of action accrues is barred and no action may be maintained thereon.”

Section B states: “For the purposes of this section, a cause of action accrues when the damaged party realizes he or she has been damaged and knows or reasonably should know the cause, source, act, event, instrumentality or condition that caused or contributed to the damage.”

Jacobsen’s Notice indicates there is no damage or damaged party.

Section E states: “A claim against a public entity or public employee filed pursuant to this section is deemed denied sixty days after the filing of the claim unless the claimant is advised of the denial in writing before the expiration of sixty days.”

It states under Section G: “If a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the requirements of this section have been complied with, the issue shall be resolved before a trial on the merits and at the earliest possible time.”

Jacobsen does not appear to have met any of the statutory requirements for filing a Notice, including the 180-day requirement to file. Since the bike lane project was completed last summer, it would appear his claim would also be time barred.