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Komar v. State

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

May 9, 2017

Stacey L. Komar, Appellant,
v.
State of Nebraska et al., Appellees.

         1. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory interpretation is a matter of law, in connection with which an appellate court has an obligation to reach an independent conclusion irrespective of the determination made by the court below.

         2. Tort Claims Act. Tort claims brought against the State must be brought in accordance with the provisions of the State Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8, 209 et seq. (Reissue 2014).

         3. Tort Claims Act: Limitations of Actions. A claimant who could have withdrawn a claim from the State Claims Board prior to the expiration of the 2-year statute of limitations should be given an additional 6 months from the time the claimant could have withdrawn the claim from the State Claims Board, rather than an additional 6 months from the time the claimant actually withdrew the claim, to file a complaint in the district court.

         4. Statutes: Judicial Construction: Legislature: Presumptions: Intent. When judicial interpretation of a statute has not evoked a legislative amendment, an appellate court presumes that the Legislature has acquiesced in the court's interpretation.

         5. Estoppel: Fraud: Limitations of Actions. The equitable doctrine of estoppel in pais may be applied to prevent a fraudulent or inequitable resort to a statute of limitations, and a defendant may, by his or her representations, promises, or conduct, be so estopped where the other elements of estoppel are present.

         Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: W. Russell Bowie III, Judge. Affirmed.

         [24 Neb.App. 693]

          Denise E. Frost, of Johnson & Mock, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.

          Brien M. Welch and John A. McWilliams, of Cassem, Tierney, Adams, Gotch & Douglas, for appellees.

          Pirtle, Bishop, and Arterburn, Judges.

          ARTERBURN, JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Stacey L. Komar filed a complaint in the district court pursuant to the provisions of the State Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8, 209 et seq. (Reissue 2014), against the State of Nebraska, the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, and Nebraska Medicine (collectively the State). The district court dismissed Komar's complaint, finding that the allegations contained in the complaint were time barred. Komar appeals from the district court's dismissal of her complaint. Upon our review, we affirm the district court's decision to dismiss Komar's complaint because it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 15, 2015, Komar filed a complaint against the State. In the complaint, she alleged that various employees of the State had accessed her medical records without her permission and without a proper purpose, in violation of both federal and state laws. Specifically, Komar alleged that a pediatrician employed by the State had improperly viewed Komar's medical records on July 3, 2012. Komar alleged that she did not learn of this incident until January 15, 2013. Komar also alleged that a second employee of the State had improperly viewed Komar's medical records on multiple dates between July 16, 2012, and January 9, 2013. Komar alleged that she did not learn of these incidents until January 8, 2014.

         In her complaint, Komar indicated that on June 27, 2014, she filed an "administrative notice" of the matters discussed [24 Neb.App. 694] in her complaint with the "State of Nebraska Division of Risk Management State Claims Board" (the Board). Having received no disposition of her claim from the Board or the risk manager, Komar indicated that she withdrew her claim from ...


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