June 19, 2008
EDWARD T. SHAW, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Docket No. L-141-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 2, 2008
Before Judges Graves and Alvarez.
Plaintiff, Edward T. Shaw, appeals from an order dated May 7, 2007, denying his application for an extension of time in which to file a late Tort Claims Act notice. Shaw, an inmate currently incarcerated in the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC), seeks to initiate proceedings against defendant, New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC). He claims the DOC lost his television set when he was transferred from Southwoods State Prison to ADTC in early August 2005. On August 15, 2005, plaintiff filed a form for misplaced property with the DOC. After pursuing several fruitless inquiries, plaintiff in December 2005 replaced the item. He was told that reimbursal for the cost of the new set would take some time. Plaintiff filed a notice of tort claim in November 2006, and thereafter filed an application to extend the time in which to file the notice. On or about January 8, 2007, plaintiff attempted to file an action in small claims against the DOC seeking damages of $160. The court denied Shaw's motion for leave to file out of time, and this appeal followed. We affirm.
Plaintiff contends the length of time in which he may file a Tort Claims Act notice should be extended because of his ignorance of the law. Briefly stated, we have no authority to expand the relevant time frames.
A notice of claim must be filed within ninety days of the accrual of the cause of action, or a claimant will otherwise be "forever barred from recovering against a public entity or public employee." N.J.S.A. 59:8-8. Although there is limited statutory authority for a late notice of claim if sought within one year, a claimant in those instances must demonstrate "sufficient reasons constituting extraordinary circumstances" for the failure to file. N.J.S.A. 59:8-9.
Shaw was aware of his lost television set by early August 2005. His notice of tort claim was not filed until November 2006, over a year later. Even if extraordinary circumstances existed, which they do not, the delay in filing falls outside the scope of the one-year maximum statutory time frame, and therefore falls outside any expansion permitted by law. Accordingly, we affirm Judge Bowen's order.
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