A Wisconsin statute provides that before suit may be brought in state court against a state or local governmental entity or officer, the plaintiff must notify the governmental defendant of the circumstances giving rise to the claim, the amount of the claim, and his or her intent to hold the named defendant liable. The statute further requires that, in order to afford the defendant an opportunity to consider the requested relief, the claimant must refrain from filing suit for 120 days after providing such notice. Failure to comply with these requirements constitutes grounds for dismissal of the action. In the present case, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin held that this notice-of-claim statute applies to federal civil rights actions brought in state court under 42 U. S. C. § 1983. Because we conclude that these requirements are pre-empted as inconsistent with federal law, we reverse.
On July 4, 1981, Milwaukee police officers stopped petitioner Bobby Felder for questioning while searching his neighborhood for an armed suspect. The interrogation proved to be hostile and apparently loud, attracting the attention of petitioner's family and neighbors, who succeeded in convincing the police that petitioner was not the man they sought. According to police reports, the officers then directed petitioner to return home, but he continued to argue
Nine months after the incident, petitioner filed this action in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court against the city of Milwaukee and certain of its police officers, alleging that the beating and arrest were unprovoked and racially motivated, and violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He sought redress under 42 U. S. C. § 1983,
The trial court granted the officers' motion as to all state-law causes of action but denied the motion as to petitioner's remaining federal claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed on the basis of its earlier decisions holding the notice-of-claim statute inapplicable to federal civil rights actions brought in state court. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, however, reversed. 139 Wis.2d 614, 408 N.W.2d 19 (1987). Passing on the question for the first time, the court reasoned that while Congress may establish the procedural framework under which claims are heard in federal courts, States retain the authority under the Constitution to prescribe the rules and procedures that govern actions in their own tribunals. Accordingly, a party who chooses to vindicate a congressionally created right in state court must abide by the State's procedures. Requiring compliance with the notice-of-claim statute, the court determined, does not frustrate the remedial and deterrent purposes of the federal civil rights laws because the statute neither limits the amount a plaintiff may recover for violation of his or her civil rights, nor precludes the possibility of such recovery altogether. Rather, the court reasoned, the notice requirement advances the State's legitimate interests in protecting against stale or fraudulent claims, facilitating prompt settlement of valid claims, and identifying and correcting inappropriate conduct by governmental employees and officials. Turning to the question of compliance in this case, the court concluded that the complaints lodged with the local police by petitioner's neighbors and the letter submitted to the police chief by the local alderman failed to satisfy the statute's actual notice standard, because these communications neither recited the facts giving
We granted certiorari, 484 U.S. 942 (1987), and now reverse.
No one disputes the general and unassailable proposition relied upon by the Wisconsin Supreme Court below that States may establish the rules of procedure governing litigation in their own courts. By the same token, however, where state courts entertain a federally created cause of action, the "federal right cannot be defeated by the forms of local practice." Brown v. Western R. Co. of Alabama, 338 U.S. 294, 296 (1949). The question before us today, therefore, is essentially one of pre-emption: is the application of the State's notice-of-claim provision to § 1983 actions brought in state courts consistent with the goals of the federal civil rights laws, or does the enforcement of such a requirement instead " `stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress' "? Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637, 649 (1971) (quoting Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941)). Under the Supremacy Clause of the Federal Constitution, "[t]he relative importance to the State of its own law is not material when there is a conflict with a valid federal law," for "any state law, however clearly within a State's acknowledged power, which interferes with or is contrary to federal law, must yield." Free v. Bland, 369 U.S. 663, 666 (1962). Because the notice-of-claim statute at issue here conflicts in both its purpose and effects with the remedial objectives of § 1983, and because its enforcement in such actions will frequently and predictably produce different outcomes in § 1983 litigation based solely on whether the claim is asserted in state or federal court, we conclude that the state law is pre-empted when the § 1983 action is brought in a state court.
Section 1983 creates a species of liability in favor of persons deprived of their federal civil rights by those wielding state authority. As we have repeatedly emphasized, "the central objective of the Reconstruction-Era civil rights statutes . . . is to ensure that individuals whose federal constitutional or statutory rights are abridged may recover damages or secure injunctive relief." Burnett v. Grattan, 468 U.S. 42, 55 (1984). Thus, § 1983 provides "a uniquely federal remedy against incursions . . . upon rights secured by the Constitution and laws of the Nation," Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 239 (1972), and is to be accorded "a sweep as broad as its language." United States v. Price, 383 U.S. 787, 801 (1966).
Any assessment of the applicability of a state law to federal civil rights litigation, therefore, must be made in light of the purpose and nature of the federal right. This is so whether the question of state-law applicability arises in § 1983 litigation brought in state courts, which possess concurrent jurisdiction over such actions, see Patsy v. Board of Regents of Florida, 457 U.S. 496, 506-507 (1982), or in federal-court litigation, where, because the federal civil rights laws fail to provide certain rules of decision thought essential to the orderly adjudication of rights, courts are occasionally called upon to borrow state law. See 42 U. S. C. § 1988. Accordingly, we have held that a state law that immunizes government conduct otherwise subject to suit under § 1983 is pre-empted, even where the federal civil rights litigation takes place in state court, because the application of the state immunity law would thwart the congressional remedy, see Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 284 (1980), which of course already provides certain immunities for state officials. See e. g., Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978); Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409 (1976). Similarly, in actions brought in federal courts, we have disapproved the adoption of state statutes of limitation
Although we have never passed on the question, the lower federal courts have all, with but one exception, concluded that notice-of-claim provisions are inapplicable to § 1983 actions brought in federal court. See Brown v. United States, 239 U. S. App. D. C. 345, 356, n. 6, 742 F.2d 1498, 1509, n. 6 (1984) (en banc) (collecting cases); but see Cardo v. Lakeland Central School Dist., 592 F.Supp. 765, 772-773 (SDNY 1984). These courts have reasoned that, unlike the lack of statutes of limitations in the federal civil rights laws, the absence of any notice-of-claim provision is not a deficiency requiring the importation of such statutes into the federal civil rights scheme. Because statutes of limitation are among the universally familiar aspects of litigation considered indispensable to any scheme of justice, it is entirely reasonable to assume that Congress did not intend to create a right enforceable in perpetuity. Notice-of-claim provisions, by contrast, are neither universally familiar nor in any sense indispensable prerequisites to litigation, and there is thus no reason to suppose that Congress intended federal courts to apply such rules, which "significantly inhibit the ability to bring federal actions." 239 U. S. App. D. C., at 354, 742 F. 2d, at 1507.
While we fully agree with this near-unanimous conclusion of the federal courts, that judgment is not dispositive here, where the question is not one of adoption but of pre-emption.
As we noted above, the central purpose of the Reconstruction-Era laws is to provide compensatory relief to those deprived of their federal rights by state actors. Section 1983 accomplishes this goal by creating a form of liability that, by its very nature, runs only against a specific class of defendants: government bodies and their officials. Wisconsin's notice-of-claim statute undermines this "uniquely federal remedy," Mitchum v. Foster, supra, at 239, in several inter-related ways. First, it conditions the right of recovery that Congress has authorized, and does so for a reason manifestly inconsistent with the purposes of the federal statute: to minimize governmental liability. Nor is this condition a neutral and uniformly applicable rule of procedure; rather, it is a substantive burden imposed only upon those who seek redress for injuries resulting from the use or misuse of governmental authority. Second, the notice provision discriminates against the federal right. While the State affords the victim of an intentional tort two years to recognize the compensable
Wisconsin's notice-of-claim statute is part of a broader legislative scheme governing the rights of citizens to sue the State's subdivisions. The statute, both in its earliest and current forms, provides a circumscribed waiver of local governmental immunity that limits the amount recoverable in suits against local governments and imposes the notice requirements at issue here. Although the Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that the statutory limits on recovery are pre-empted in federal civil rights actions, Thompson v. Village of Hales Corners, 115 Wis.2d 289, 340 N.W.2d 704 (1983), and thus recognizes that partial immunities inconsistent with § 1983 must yield to the federal right, it concluded in the present case that the notice and exhaustion conditions attached to the waiver of such immunities may nevertheless be enforced in federal actions. The purposes of these conditions, however, mirror those of the judicial immunity the statute replaced. Such statutes "are enacted primarily for the benefit of governmental defendants," Civil Actions, at 564, and enable those defendants to "investigate early, prepare a stronger case, and perhaps reach an early settlement." Brown v. United States, supra, at 353, 742 F. 2d, at 1506. Moreover, where the defendant is unable to obtain a satisfactory settlement, the Wisconsin statute forces claimants to bring suit within a relatively short period after the local governing
In sum, as respondents explain, the State has chosen to expose its subdivisions to large liability and defense costs, and, in light of that choice, has made the concomitant decision to impose conditions that "assis[t] municipalities in controlling those costs." Brief for Respondents 12. The decision to subject state subdivisions to liability for violations of federal rights, however, was a choice that Congress, not the Wisconsin Legislature, made, and it is a decision that the State has no authority to override. Thus, however understandable or laudable the State's interest in controlling liability expenses might otherwise be, it is patently incompatible with the compensatory goals of the federal legislation, as are the means the State has chosen to effectuate it.
This burdening of a federal right, moreover, is not the natural or permissible consequence of an otherwise neutral, uniformly applicable state rule. Although it is true that the notice-of-claim statute does not discriminate between state and federal causes of action against local governments, the fact remains that the law's protection extends only to governmental defendants and thus conditions the right to bring suit against the very persons and entities Congress intended to
While respondents and amici suggest that prompt investigation of claims inures to the benefit of claimants and local governments alike, by providing both with an accurate factual picture of the incident, such statutes "are enacted primarily for the benefit of governmental defendants," and are intended to afford such defendants an opportunity to prepare a stronger case. Civil Actions, at 564 (emphasis added); see also Brown v. United States, 239 U. S. App. D. C., at 354, 742 F. 2d, at 1506. Sound notions of public administration may support the prompt notice requirement, but those policies necessarily clash with the remedial purposes of the federal civil rights laws. In Wilson, we held that, for purposes
Finally, the notice provision imposes an exhaustion requirement on persons who choose to assert their federal right in state courts, inasmuch as the § 1983 plaintiff must provide the requisite notice of injury within 120 days of the civil rights violation, then wait an additional 120 days while the
Second, our decision in Patsy rested not only on the legislative history of § 1983 itself, but also on the facts that in the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980, 94 Stat. 353, 42 U. S. C. § 1997e, Congress established an exhaustion requirement for a specific class of § 1983 actions — those brought by adult prisoners challenging the conditions of
Finally, to the extent the exhaustion requirement is designed to sift out "specious claims" from the stream of complaints that can inundate local governments in the absence of immunity, see Nielsen, 112 Wis. 2d, at 580, 334 N. W. 2d, at 245, we have rejected such a policy as inconsistent with the aims of the federal legislation. In Burnett, state officials urged the adoption of a 6-month limitations period in a § 1983 action in order that they might enjoy "some reasonable protection
Respondents and their supporting amici urge that we approve the application of the notice-of-claim statute to § 1983 actions brought in state court as a matter of equitable federalism. They note that " `[t]he general rule, bottomed deeply in belief in the importance of state control of state judicial procedure, is that federal law takes the state courts as it finds them.' " Brief for Amici Curiae 8 (quoting Hart, The Relations Between State and Federal Law, 54 Colum. L. Rev. 489, 508 (1954)). Litigants who choose to bring their civil rights actions in state courts presumably do so in order to obtain the benefit of certain procedural advantages in those courts, or to draw their juries from urban populations. Having availed themselves of these benefits, civil rights litigants must comply as well with those state rules they find less to their liking.
However equitable this bitter-with-the-sweet argument may appear in the abstract, it has no place under our Supremacy Clause analysis. Federal law takes state courts as it finds them only insofar as those courts employ rules that do not "impose unnecessary burdens upon rights of recovery authorized by federal laws." Brown v. Western R. Co. of Alabama, 338 U. S., at 298-299; see also Monessen South-western R. Co. v. Morgan, 486 U.S. 330, 336 (1988) (state rule designed to encourage settlement cannot limit recovery
Under Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938), when a federal court exercises diversity or pendent jurisdiction over state-law claims, "the outcome of the litigation in the federal court should be substantially the same, so far as legal rules determine the outcome of a litigation, as it would be if tried in a State court." Guaranty Trust Co. v. York, 326 U.S. 99, 109 (1945). Accordingly, federal courts entertaining state-law claims against Wisconsin municipalities are obligated to apply the notice-of-claim provision. See Orthmann v. Apple River Campground, Inc., 757 F.2d 909, 911 (CA7 1985). Just as federal courts are constitutionally obligated to apply state law to state claims, see Erie, supra, at 78-79, so too the Supremacy Clause imposes on state courts a constitutional duty "to proceed in such manner that all the substantial rights of the parties under controlling federal law [are] protected." Garrett v. Moore-McCormack Co., 317 U.S. 239, 245 (1942).
Finally, in Wilson, we characterized § 1983 suits as claims for personal injuries because such an approach ensured that
In enacting § 1983, Congress entitled those deprived of their civil rights to recover full compensation from the governmental officials responsible for those deprivations. A state law that conditions that right of recovery upon compliance with a rule designed to minimize governmental liability, and that directs injured persons to seek redress in the first instance from the very targets of the federal legislation, is inconsistent in both purpose and effect with the remedial objectives of the federal civil rights law. Principles of federalism, as well as the Supremacy Clause, dictate that such a state law must give way to vindication of the federal right when that right is asserted in state court.
Accordingly, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE WHITE, concurring.
It cannot be disputed that, if Congress had included a statute of limitations in 42 U. S. C. § 1983, any state court that entertained a § 1983 suit would have to apply that statute of limitations. As the Court observed in an early case brought under the Federal Employers' Liability Act of 1908, 35 Stat. 65, 45 U. S. C. § 51 et seq., "[i]f [a federal Act] be available in a state court to found a right, and the record shows a lapse of
Similarly, where the Court has determined that a particular state statute of limitations ought to be borrowed in order to effectuate the congressional intent underlying a federal cause of action that contains no statute of limitations of its own, any state court that entertains the same federal cause of action must apply the same state statute of limitations. We made such a determination in Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261 (1985), which held that § 1983 suits must as a matter of federal law
It has since been assumed that Wilson v. Garcia governs the timeliness of § 1983 suits brought in state as well as federal court. See, e. g., Russell v. Anchorage, 743 P.2d 372, 374-375, and n. 8 (Alaska 1987); Ziccardi v. Pennsylvania Dept. of General Services, 109 Pa.Commw. 628, 634-635,
The Wisconsin Supreme Court likewise assumed that Wilson v. Garcia governed which statute of limitations should apply to petitioner's § 1983 claim.
The application of the Wisconsin notice-of-claim statute to bar petitioner's § 1983 suit — which is "in reality, `an action for injury to personal rights' " 471 U. S., at 265 (quoting 731 F.2d 640, 651 (CA10 1984) (opinion below)) — thus undermines the purposes of Wilson v. Garcia to promote "[t]he federal interests in uniformity, certainty, and the minimization of unnecessary litigation," 471 U. S., at 275, and assure that state procedural rules do not "discriminate against the federal civil rights remedy." Id., at 276. I therefore agree that in view of the adverse impact of Wisconsin's notice-of-claim statute on the federal policies articulated in Wilson v. Garcia, the Supremacy Clause proscribes the statute's application to § 1983 suits brought in Wisconsin state courts.
JUSTICE O'CONNOR, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, dissenting.
"A state statute cannot be considered `inconsistent' with federal law merely because the statute causes the plaintiff to lose the litigation." Robertson v. Wegmann, 436 U.S. 584,
Wisconsin's notice of claim statute, which imposes a limited exhaustion of remedies requirement on those with claims against municipal governments and their officials, serves at least two important purposes apart from providing municipal defendants with a special affirmative defense in litigation. First, the statute helps ensure that public officials will receive prompt notice of wrongful conditions or practices, and thus enables them to take prompt corrective action. Second, it enables officials to investigate claims in a timely fashion, thereby making it easier to ascertain the facts accurately and to settle meritorious claims without litigation. These important aspects of the Wisconsin statute bring benefits to governments and claimants alike, and it should come as no surprise that 37 other States have apparently adopted similar notice of claim requirements. App. to Brief for International City Management Association et al. as Amici Curiae 1a-2a. Without some compellingly clear indication that Congress has forbidden the States to apply such statutes in their own courts, there is no reason to conclude that they are "pre-empted" by federal law. Allusions to such vague concepts
Section 1983, it is worth recalling, creates no substantive law. It merely provides one vehicle by which certain provisions of the Constitution and other federal laws may be judicially enforced. Its purpose, as we have repeatedly said, " `was to interpose the federal courts between the States and the people, as guardians of the people's federal rights . . . .' " Patsy v. Board of Regents of Florida, 457 U.S. 496, 503 (1982) (quoting Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 242 (1972)) (emphasis added). For that reason, the original version of § 1983 provided that the federal courts would have exclusive jurisdiction of actions arising under it. See Civil Rights Act of 1871, ch. 22, § 1, 17 Stat. 13. This fact is conclusive proof that the "Congress which enacted § 1983 over 100 years ago," ante, at 149, could not possibly have meant thereby to alter the operation of state courts in any way or to "pre-empt" them from using procedural statutes like the one at issue today.
State courts may now entertain § 1983 actions if a plaintiff chooses a state court over the federal forum that is always available as a matter of right. See, e. g., Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 283, and n. 7 (1980). Abandoning the rule of exclusive federal jurisdiction over § 1983 actions, and thus restoring the tradition of concurrent jurisdiction, however, "did not leave behind a pre-emptive grin without a statutory cat." Puerto Rico Dept. of Consumer Affairs v. Isla Petroleum Corp., supra, at 504. Congress has never given the slightest indication that § 1983 was meant to replace state procedural rules with those that apply in the federal courts. The majority does not, because it cannot, cite any evidence to the contrary.
Patsy also relied on the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980, § 7, 94 Stat. 352, 42 U. S. C. § 1997e, which ordinarily requires exhaustion of state remedies before an adult prisoner can bring a § 1983 action in federal court. The Court concluded that the "legislative history of § 1997e demonstrates that Congress has taken the approach of carving out specific exceptions to the general rule that federal courts cannot require exhaustion under § 1983." 457 U. S., at 512 (emphasis added). This finding lends further support to the proposition that Congress has never concerned itself with the application of exhaustion requirements in state courts, and § 1997e conclusively shows that Congress does not believe that such requirements are somehow inherently incompatible with the nature of actions under § 1983.
For similar reasons, Brown v. Western R. Co. of Alabama, 338 U.S. 294 (1949), which is repeatedly quoted by the majority, does not control the present case. In Brown, which
Unable to find support for its position in § 1983 itself, or in its legislative history, the majority suggests that the Wisconsin statute somehow "discriminates against the federal right." Ante, at 141. The Wisconsin statute, however, applies to all actions against municipal defendants, whether brought under state or federal law. The majority is therefore compelled to adopt a new theory of discrimination, under which the challenged statute is said to "conditio[n] the right to bring suit against the very persons and entities [viz., local governments and officials] Congress intended to subject to liability." Ante, at 144-145. This theory, however, is untenable. First, the statute erects no barrier at all to a plaintiff's right to bring a § 1983 suit against anyone. Every plaintiff has the option of proceeding in federal court, and the Wisconsin statute has not the slightest effect on that right. Second, if a plaintiff chooses to proceed in the Wisconsin state courts, those courts stand ready to hear the entire federal
The Court also suggests that there is some parallel between this case and cases that are tried in federal court under the doctrine of Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938). Quoting the "outcome-determinative" test of Guaranty Trust Co. v. York, 326 U.S. 99, 109 (1945), the Court opines today that state courts hearing federal suits are obliged to mirror federal procedures to the same extent that federal courts are obliged to mirror state procedures in diversity suits. This suggestion seems to be based on a sort of upside-down theory of federalism, which the Court attributes to Congress on the basis of no evidence at all. Nor are the implications of this "reverse-Erie" theory quite clear. If the Court means the theory to be taken seriously, it should follow that defendants, as well as plaintiffs, are entitled to the benefit of all federal court procedural rules that are "outcome determinative." If, however, the Court means to create a rule that benefits only plaintiffs, then the discussion of Erie principles is simply an unsuccessful effort to find some analogy, no matter how attenuated, to today's unprecedented holding.
"Borrowing" cases under 42 U. S. C. § 1988, which the Court cites several times, have little more to do with today's decision than does Erie. Under that statute and those cases, we are sometimes called upon to fill in gaps in federal law by choosing a state procedural rule for application in § 1983 actions brought in federal court. See, e. g., Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261 (1985); Burnett v. Grattan, 468 U.S. 42 (1984). The congressionally imposed necessity of supplementing
Finally, JUSTICE WHITE'S concurrence argues that Wisconsin's notice of claim statute is in the nature of a statute of limitations, and that the principles articulated in Wilson v. Garcia, supra, preclude its application to any action under § 1983. See ante, at 154-156. Assuming, arguendo, that state courts must apply the same statutes of limitations that federal courts borrow under § 1988, the concurrence is mistaken in treating this notice of claim requirement as a statute of limitations. As the concurrence acknowledges, the 120-day claim period established by the Wisconsin statute does not apply if the local government had actual notice of the claim and has not been prejudiced by the plaintiff's delay. Ante, at 155, n. 3. The concurrence suggests that the Wisconsin statute nonetheless is equivalent to a statute of limitations because the present case demonstrates that "the `actual notice' requirement is difficult to satisfy." Ibid. I agree that a sufficiently burdensome notice of claim requirement could effectively act as a statute of limitations. The facts of this case, however, will not support such a characterization of the Wisconsin law. The court below said that no "detailed claim for damages" need be submitted; rather, the injured party need only "recit[e] the facts giving rise to the injury and [indicate] an intent . . . to hold the city responsible for any damages resulting from the injury." 139 Wis.2d 614, 630, 408 N.W.2d 19, 26 (1987) (citations omitted). It has not been suggested that petitioner tried to comply with this requirement but encountered difficulties in doing so. Indeed, it would have been easier to file the required notice of claim than to file this lawsuit, which petitioner proved himself quite capable of doing. Far from encountering "difficulties" in complying with the notice of claim statute, petitioner never tried.
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress."
Petitioner also stated a claim based on 42 U. S. C. § 1985(2), alleging a racially motivated conspiracy to interfere with his access to the state courts. The parties and the state courts below have treated these claims as identical for purposes of this suit, and we do so here as well.
"(1) Except as provided in sub. (1m), no action may be brought or maintained against any . . . governmental subdivision or agency thereof nor against any officer, official, agent or employe of the . . . subdivision or agency for acts done in their official capacity or in the course of their agency or employment upon a claim or cause of action unless:
"(a) Within 120 days after the happening of the event giving rise to the claim, written notice of the circumstances of the claim signed by the party, agent or attorney is served on the . . . governmental subdivision or agency and on the officer, official, agent or employe. . . . Failure to give the requisite notice shall not bar action on the claim if the . . . governmental subdivision or agency had actual notice of the claim and the claimant shows to the satisfaction of the court that the delay or failure to give the requisite notice has not been prejudicial to the defendant . . . subdivision or agency or to the defendant officer, official, agent or employe; and
"(b) A claim containing the address of the claimant and an itemized statement of the relief sought is presented to the appropriate clerk or person who performs the duties of a clerk or secretary for the defendant . . . subdivision or agency and the claim is disallowed. Failure of the appropriate body to disallow within 120 days after presentation is a disallowance. Notice of disallowance shall be served on the claimant by registered or certified mail and the receipt therefor, signed by the claimant, or the returned registered letter, shall be proof of service. No action on a claim against any defendant . . . subdivision or agency nor against any defendant officer, official, agent or employe may be brought after 6 months from the date of service of the notice, and the notice shall contain a statement to that effect."
Many States have adopted similar provisions. See generally Civil Actions Against State Government, Its Divisions, Agencies, and Officers 559-569 (W. Winborne ed. 1982) (hereinafter Civil Actions).