Plaintiffs seek damages because of a collision on November 8, 1945, between an automobile driven by plaintiff Veriddo and one operated by defendant. The accident assertedly was caused by defendant's negligence. The complaint as amended alleges that at the time of the collision defendant was an employe of the State of California and that the automobile he was driving was owned by and being driven with the consent of the state, within the scope and course of defendant's employment. Defendant demurred on the ground
Division 4 of title 1 of the Government Code deals with "Public Officers and Employees" and chapter 6 of division 4 treats of the "Liability of Officers and Employees." Study of the sections (1950-2002) which make up chapter 6, and of the prior statutes upon which such sections are based, clearly indicates the intention of the Legislature to (1) define certain conditions of, and to prescribe procedural requirements for enforcing, the liability of public officers and employes for acts performed or damages arising in connection with performance of the duties of their office or employment (see §§ 1953, 1953.5, 1954, 1955, 1981); (2) permit the public agencies involved (the state, school districts, counties and municipalities) to provide liability insurance to officers and employes at agency expense (§ 1956); (3) specifically, to require the filing of a claim with the public officer or employe and with the public agency (in the case of a state employe the filing is to be with the employe and with the Governor) in the cases specified in section 1981, quoted hereinabove; and (4) provide for the defense at public expense of certain damage actions brought against specified public officers and employes (§§ 2000, 2001, 2002), including this action against the state employe who is defendant here (sub. (b) (1) of § 2001).
As already pointed out, section 1981 falls within a chapter of the Government Code dealing with the liability of officers and employes, and if compliance with its provisions is not a prerequisite to suit against such persons on account of the claims specified in that section, then the section appears to be wholly meaningless, since it is not applicable to claims against a public agency. Such a viewpoint does not overlook the common law liability of an employe as an individual for his own negligence (see Mock v. City of Santa Rosa (1899), 126 Cal. 330, 344 [58 P. 826]; Payne v. Baehr (1908), 153 Cal. 441, 444 [95 P. 895]; Moore v. Burton (1925), 75 Cal.App. 395, 401 [242 P. 902]), but simply recognizes that the Legislature has extended to public officers and employes, who incur liability in the performance of government service, the protection of a claims statute and the privilege of having defended at public expense those damage suits which are enumerated in chapter 6.
Plaintiffs further urge that Von Arx v. City of Burlingame (1936), 16 Cal.App.2d 29 [60 P.2d 305], and Johnson v. County of Fresno (1944), 64 Cal.App.2d 576 [149 P.2d 38], cited in the Huffaker case, do not support the holding of that case. Those cases are not cited as direct support, however, but are accurately analyzed and discussed therein. (See p. 387 of 77 Cal. App.2d.)
Further support for the Huffaker case holding and for our conclusion here is found in Artukovich v. Astendorf (1942), 21 Cal.2d 329, 332-333 [131 P.2d 831], in which it was held that although the liability of a county (the county of Los Angeles, respondent on appeal) for the negligent driving of a truck by one of its employes is established by section 400 of the Vehicle Code, nevertheless the claim provisions of former section 4075
Powers Farms v. Consolidated Irr. Dist. (1941), 19 Cal.2d 123, 129, 131 [119 P.2d 717], also is consistent with defendant's position that he is entitled to the protection of the claim statutes. In the Powers case this court, in considering the claim provisions of the Irrigation District Liability Law (Stats. 1935, p. 2250; Deering's Gen. Laws, 1937, Act 3886l, § 2
We find no valid constitutional basis for holding the statute to be either void or inapplicable to this case.
The judgment is affirmed.
Gibson, C.J., Shenk, J., Edmonds, J., Traynor, J., and Spence, J., concurred.
I concur in the judgment of affirmance, but in doing so, I do not wish to be understood as giving my approval to the decisions of this court in Artukovich v. Astendorf, 21 Cal.2d 329 [131 P.2d 831], and Powers Farms v. Consolidated Irr. Dist., 19 Cal.2d 123 [119 P.2d 717], cited in the majority opinion. I filed a dissenting opinion in both of the last mentioned cases, which, in my opinion, correctly stated the law applicable thereto. I do not consider either of these cases authority for the position taken by the majority in the case at bar, and my concurrence in the result reached in the majority opinion in this case is based solely upon my interpretation of the statute here involved (Gov. Code, § 1981) which compels the conclusion here reached.