What’s “Exceptional” about a Late Notice to a Public Entity in NJ
But what happens when a plaintiff fails to file in 90 days? The statute says that the claimant must then show exceptional circumstances to permit a late notice. What exactly qualifies as exceptional circumstances is a matter in that the New Jersey Supreme Court recently took up oral argument of D.D. v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
In D.D. , the plaintiff sought to file a claim when her AIDS status was revealed despite her expectation of privacy of this confidential information. She wrote to UMDNJ to demand that it stop disseminating the information. She also contacted an attorney who met with the school to address the situation. However, the attorney never filed a notice of claim. The plaintiff followed up with the attorney, but he did not take her calls. After 90 days expired, she sought out a new attorney.
The Supreme Court justices grilled UMDNJ’s counsel on the issue of exceptional circumstances and whether attorney negligence is “ordinary” “these days.” Justice Albin noted the plaintiff’s poor health and unsuccessful efforts to reach her counsel. Albin suggested that an average person would not know about the 90-day deadline.
UMDNJ’s counsel pointed out that the current state of the law is that ignorance of law is not sufficiently exceptional. We’ll have to wait to see whether the Supreme Court agrees.
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