Is a 30-Day Limitation Period Satisfied When a Complaint Against a Public Entity Is Already on File When the Order Is Made ?

In Bahten v. County of Merced (1976) 59 Cal. App. 3d 101 130 Cal. Rptr. 539, the plaintiffs filed suit against a public entity while their petition for leave to file a late claim was still pending. The complaint did not allege compliance with Government Code claim procedures. (Id. at p. 104.) The plaintiffs then obtained a court order under section 946.6 relieving them of claim filing requirements, and they described this development in an amended complaint. (Bahten v. County of Merced, supra, at p. 104.) Although the plaintiffs filed the first amended complaint more than 30 days after the court order under section 946.6, the Court of Appeal determined that the 30-day limitation period ( 946.6, subd. (f)) is satisfied when a complaint against the public entity is already on file when the order is made. (Bahten v. County of Merced, supra, at p. 112.) The court distinguished Wilson because: (1) the state was not named or identified as a defendant in the original Wilson complaint; (2) no claim was presented to the state before the filing of the first complaint in Wilson; (3) "the rule of strict construction employed in Wilson has been largely eroded by the liberal construction accorded the claims statute in Cory and Savage, supra, particularly as it relates to the premature filing of complaints and to the fulfillment of the statutory purposes by means other than strict compliance with the statute itself." ( Bahten v. County of Merced, supra, at p. 113).