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Home / Featured / City law requiring notice of lawsuit prevails before high court

City law requiring notice of lawsuit prevails before high court

A man who fell off his bike while crossing a City of St. Charles bridge cannot revive his claims against the city because he failed to notify the city within 90 days of his injury, the Missouri Supreme Court determined.

Christopher Zang had sued the city over alleged injuries when he fell off his bike while crossing the city’s open-grate metal bridge. He filed his suit alleging negligence and premises liability nine months after the June 2019 incident.

The city motioned to dismiss the case, arguing his premises liability claim couldn’t continue because he failed to provide notice to the mayor of the lawsuit within 90 days of the injury as per the city charter. Zang had claimed that the notice requirement was unconstitutional and conflicted with the Missouri Constitution and statutes, and that he had complied with filing the suit within the 5-year statute of limitations. The Missouri Supreme Court of Appeals Eastern District had agreed with his appeal in 2021, after a St. Charles County judge dismissed the suit.

A series of statutes requires notice to some cities, including constitutional charter cities, within 90 days of an injury allegedly caused by bridges and other infrastructure. Andrew Martin of The Sumner Law Group in Clayton represented Zang during oral arguments. He said this has far-reaching implications for negligence claims.

“There’s no limitation under this opinion that a city has, as it relates to notice of claims provisions, that are applicable to negligence claims,” Martin said.

Portia C. Kayser of Harris Dowell Fischer & Young in St. Louis represented the city and said this affects at least 70 municipalities that chose to become constitutional charter cities.

“Having individuals have to make a quick notice to the city, it gives that city the opportunity to correct issues, to investigate quickly so that taxpayer money is not being paid out years after the fact, and they haven’t had the opportunity to try and fix things,” Kayser said.

The Missouri Supreme Court’s Jan. 31 en banc opinion by Judge Robin Ransom stamped out Zang’s suit once again. The high court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of the case, upholding that the series of statutes do not cancel out state time restraints.

“The notice requirement may restrict who is eligible to bring suit against the City, but it does not change what type of suits can be brought against the City or how long a claimant has under section 516.120’s five-year statute of limitations,” Ransom wrote.

Chief Judge Paul C. Wilson and Judges Mary R. Russell, W. Brent Powell, Patricia Breckenridge and George Draper concurred, while Judge Zel Fischer concurred in result.

The case is Christopher Zang v. City of St. Charles, SC99419.