LUIS ANGEL VINIEGRA and SYLVIA DE LA HUERTA-VINIEGRA, husband and wife, Plaintiffs/Appellants,
TOWN OF PARKER MUNICIPAL PROPERTY CORPORATION, an Arizona non-profit corporation, Defendant/Appellee.
from the Superior Court in La Paz County No.
S1500CV2014-00037 The Honorable Samuel E. Vederman, Judge
Law Firm PLC, Phoenix By John D. Parker, II Counsel for
Law Group PLC, Avondale By Gary L. Popham, Jr. Counsel for
Donn Kessler delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
Presiding Judge Kenton D. Jones and Judge Randall M. Howe
Luis Angel Viniegra ("Viniegra") and Sylvia De La
Huerta- Viniegra (collectively, "Plaintiffs")
appeal the superior court's order dismissing their case
with prejudice as barred by the one-year statute of
limitations applicable to public entities, Arizona Revised
Statutes ("A.R.S.") § 12-821 (2016).
Plaintiffs contend that the statute is unconstitutional and
that on the facts of this case the statute should be
equitably tolled. We conclude that the one-year statute of
limitations for bringing actions against public entities does
not violate equal protection or the anti-abrogation clause of
the Arizona Constitution and that principles of equitable
estoppel do not apply here. Accordingly, we affirm the
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On April 14, 2012, Viniegra slipped and fell at a funeral at
the Town of Parker Cemetery, a property owned and operated by
the Town of Parker Municipal Property Corporation
("Town"). Viniegra suffered severe, ongoing injuries
and immediately began treatment. The Town asked Viniegra to
complete and submit a notice of claim in accordance with
A.R.S. § 12-821.01(A) (2015). Viniegra timely submitted
his notice of claim. Then, Berkley Risk Administrators,
L.L.C. ("Berkley"), the Town's risk
adjudicator, opened a claim, assigned a claim number, and
received billing statements from Viniegra's physicians.
In fall 2013, Viniegra finished treatment but allegedly will
need treatment in the future. However, the Town never
responded to the notice of claim.
On April 10, 2014, almost two years after the date of injury,
Plaintiffs filed a complaint and alleged the Town and Doe
Defendants'negligence was the direct and proximate
cause of Plaintiffs' injuries and damages, and that the
Town's and Berkley's conduct created an implied
promise they would resolve Viniegra's claim without him
having to file a lawsuit. The Town filed a motion to dismiss,
and argued Plaintiffs' action was barred by the one-year
statute of limitations set forth in A.R.S. § 12-821,
which provides for a one-year statute of limitations for
actions against public entities and employees,  and the statute
was not tolled by the notice of claim process. Plaintiffs
claimed the statute should have been tolled because Viniegra
was still actively treating his injuries one year after he
slipped and fell, and that § 12-821 was
The superior court granted the motion to dismiss and filed a
signed judgment on March 26, 2015. On April 13, 2015,
Plaintiffs moved to alter or amend the judgment, and asked
the court to address their argument that § 12-821 is
unconstitutional as it applies to personal injury cases. The
court rejected the constitutional argument and denied the
Rule 59 motion in a signed order.
On May 27, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal from the
judgment and order. We have jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S.
§§ 12-2101(A)(1), (2) (Supp. 2015) and
We review a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal de novo. Coleman v.
Cityof Mesa,230 Ariz. 352, 355, ¶ 7
(2012). Dismissal is appropriate under Rule 12(b)(6) only if,
as a matter of law, the "plaintiffs would not be
entitled to relief under any interpretation of the facts
susceptible of proof." Id. at 356, ¶ 8
(quoting Fid. Sec. Life Ins. Co. v. State Dep't of
Ins.,191 Ariz. 222, 224, ¶ 4 (1998)). When
determining whether a complaint states a claim on which
relief can be granted, courts "must assume the ...