Rios v. Montgomery County

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IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 71 September Term 2004 __________________________________ NELLY RIOS , as Parent and Next Friend of Her Son, Luis Fernando Rios v. MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MAR YLA ND, et al. __________________________________ Bell, C.J. Raker Wilner Cathell Harrell Battaglia Greene JJ. Opinion by Battaglia, J. Filed: April 7, 2005 This case arises under the 180-day notice provision of the L ocal Governm ent Tort Claims Act [hereinafter LGTCA ], Md. Code (1987, 2002 Repl. Vol., 2004 Cum. Supp .), § 5-304 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.1 We have been asked to determine whether the 180-day notice provision as applied to minors violates the Federal Constitution and Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. We also have been asked to review the Circuit Court s holding that the good cause exception contained in Section 5-304 (c) of the LGT CA w as not satisfied under the f acts of this c ase. Because we find that the 180day notice requirement of the LGTCA is constitutional as applied to minors, and that the Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that good cau se did not ex ist, we shall affirm. I. Background Nelly Rios S aravia [hereinafter Ms. Rios ], formerly of Bolivia, immigrated to the United States in 1983. She subsequently returned to Bolivia and later re-entered the United 1 Section 5-3 04 provid es in pertinen t part: (a) Notice Required. Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, an action for unliquidated damages may not be brought against a local government or its employees unless the notice of the claim required by this section is given within 180 days after the in jury. *** (c) Waiver of notice requirement. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this section, unless the defendant can affirm atively show that its defense has been prejudiced by lack of required notice, upon motion and for good cause shown the court may entertain the suit even though the required notice was not given. Md. Code (1987, 2002 Repl. Vol. 2004 Cum. Supp.), § 5-304 (a) and (c) of the Courts and Judicia l Proce edings Article. States in 1987 with he r husba nd, Lu is Rios [ hereina fter M r. Rios ]. In 199 1, Ms. R ios became pregnant, and a friend referred her to a clinic in Rockville operated by the Mon tgome ry Coun ty Health Depa rtment to obtain p renatal c are. During an appoin tment at the c linic on June 17, 1991, Ms. Rios signed a form written in Spanish, entitled Maternity Programa De Maternidad Pruebra De Domicilio, on which she represented that she w as a residen t of Montgomery County, Maryland. The words Montgom ery County Government appeared in large letters at the top of the form with the County seal, and at the bottom of the form a ppeared th e words Departm ent of Health, Division of Family Health Services with the Department s address. The form instructed the person requesting service to repo rt all changes in . . . residency (within 14 days) to the Montgom ery County Health Department. Ms. Rios also signed a document called a Face Sheet that contained the words Montgomery County at the top. In 1991, Dr. Richard Footer, M.D. was employed part-time by M ontgom ery County in a program called, Project Delivery. On December 31, 1991, while Ms. Rios was in labor at Holy Cross Hospital of Silver Spring, Inc. [hereinafter Holy Cross ], Dr. Footer was on call. Although Dr. Footer had never previously met Ms. Rios and had never provided prenatal care to her at the clinic, he delivered Mr. and Ms. Rios s son, Luis, on that date. The only payment m ade by Ms . Rios for L uis s delivery w as made to Holy Cross Hospital. Luis weighed ten pounds, five ounces at birth, and his size app arently complicated the deliv ery. During labor, Luis s anterior shoulder became lodged, and Dr. Footer used forceps 2 to deliver him, which resulted in a sulcar tear2 and a fourth degree tear of the brachial plexus.3 Luis now suff ers f rom Erb s Pa lsy, 4 a permanent condition. Ms. Rios paid H oly Cross, not Montgomery County, for the costs accrued from Luis s birth. Although Luis s injury was apparent at birth, Petitioner did not provide notice of the malpractice claim to the County until almost a decade later on April 6, 2001. On May 11, 2001, Petitioner filed a claim for negligence with the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office. After arbitration was waived , Ms. Rios filed a neg ligence suit against Dr. Footer and Montgom ery County on July 24, 2002, as Luis next friend,5 seeking to recover fo r Luis s injuries.6 2 A sulcus is a furrow, groove, or fissure. MEDICAL D ICTIONARY FOR L AWYERS 652 (3 d ed. 19 60). 3 A brachial p lexus is defined as a large network or tangle of the neck a nd armp it, formed by the union of the anterior branches of the lower four cervical and the first dorsal nerve. M EDICAL D ICTIONARY FOR L AWYERS at 572. Cervical is of [p]ertaining to the neck. Id. at 157. D orsal is defined as [p]ertaining to or situated near the back. Id. at 248. 4 Erb s Palsy is defined as [p]aralysis of the upper roots of the brachial plexus due to destruction o f the fifth an d sixth cerv ical roots and characterized by absence of involvement of the s mall ha nd mu scles. T HE S LOANE-D ORLAND A NNOTATED M EDICALL EGAL D ICTIONARY 528 (1987). 5 Maryland Rule 2-202(b) pro vides that [a]n individual un der disability [including minority] to sue may sue by a guardian or other like fid uciary or, if no ne, by nex t friend . . . 6 In the Second Amended Complaint filed on March 4, 2002, Pe titioner added David Solberg, M.D. as a defendant. The complaint was amended a third time on September 9, 2002, adding Holy Cross as a defendant. Both Holy Cross and Dr. Solberg have been dismissed f rom the su it and are no t parties to the p resent appe al. 3 Ms. Rios was deposed through a Spanish interpreter on June 6, 2002. She testified that she spoke very little English in 1991 and did not know how to read English when she went to the clinic on her initial visit. She acknowledged, however, that the nurses spoke Spanish and helped her to complete the forms and to communicate with the doctor. Ms. Rios estimated that she visited the clinic approximately twelve times and paid $ 8.00 per appointment, but maintained that she did not know that it was a clinic run by the Cou nty or that Dr. Footer was a County employee. The following deposition testimony is pertinent to the issues at bar: [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES]: What was your status here in the United States in 1990 and 1991? [MS. RIOS ]: I w as sti ll her e illegally. [COUNSEL FOR A PPEL LEES ]: You ind icated that a friend of yours told you to g o to the clinic a t 50 Mo nroe Street? [MS. RIOS]: Yes. *** [COUNSEL FOR APPELL EES]: You indicated that she [Ms. Rios s friend] said that if you went there, they could help. What did they say they could do for you? [MS. RIOS] : Because I was told to have a baby and to h ave to give childbirth in a hospital would cost about $5,000, and I did not have those resources, sufficient resources to pay that bill, so I was told there at the clinic that they could do that for me for $1,500. [COUNSEL FOR APP ELLEES]: An d this was your understanding that this clinic w as a clinic that w as run by 4 Montgomery County, Maryland? [MS. RIOS] : No. I just knew it was I was under the impression that it was a c linic that would help peop le, but I didn t kno w anything m ore abou t it. [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES]: Did you know who ran the clinic? [MS. RIOS]: No. [COUNSEL FOR APPEL LEES]: Did you know anything about the clinic other than you just go there and you get help? [MS. RIOS]: Just that I would have to pay less, and that s why I went there. *** [COUNSEL FOR APP ELL EES ]: Was it yo ur understanding that t he cl inic w as no t run by M ontg ome ry County? [MS. RIOS]: No. I did not know that it was clinic run by the Cou nty. I though it w as just a public clinic, and that s why you pay the $1,500.[7] [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES]: So it was your understanding that it was a p ublic clinic; is tha t right? [MS. RIOS]: Yes, but one where you had to pay, but I did not know it w as ru n by th e Co unty. [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES]: Did you understand that it was run by the go vernmen t or a govern ment? [MS. RIOS] : No, I neve r knew th at. I would g o once a m onth 7 Under Mo ntgo mery Cou nty s Proj ect D elive ry program , qualified ind ividuals paid $1,500.00 for a delive ry as compar ed to $5,00 0.00 that it w ould norm ally cost. 5 for my appointments. I would just sign in, have my appointment, and go back. [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES]: At any point in time did you ask any of the individuals there w ho they worked fo r? [MS. RIOS]: No, never. I never would ask anything. I w ould just go in and come ba ck out. [COUNSEL FOR APPELL EES]: After your son was born did you ever ask any of the individuals at the clinic who they worked for? [MS. RIOS]: No, never. I never asked anybody there. *** [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES]: You also understood when you signed up at the clinic that the clinic was going to provide was go ing to have someon e deliver your b aby; correct? [MS. RIOS]: Yes. I thought it would be the same doctor that would give me the checkups. Ms. Rios recalled that, by six months of age, Luis still could not move his hand, and that her husband had visited a lawyer to discuss the matter before Luis was a year old; however, she had no idea who that lawyer would be. At his deposition, Dr. Footer stated that he learned of Luis s size at the time of delivery, and ackn owledg ed that he w as surprised at the baby s size . He also rec alled that, after the delivery he explained to Ms. Rios that the baby had nerve damage and required further exam ination. Dr. Footer stated that he told Ms. Rios that we would have to wait and see whether this resolved totally or not. He did not, howeve r, remember discussing with Ms. Rios the risks associated with a forceps delivery, nor did he know whether Ms. Rios was 6 aware that he w as paid by the Co unty to de liver her son. On September 23, 2002, Petitioner filed a Motion to Waive Requirement of Timely Notice Under the Local Government Tort Claims Act and to Permit Action to Proceed. The motion claimed that [p]rior to consulting with her current attorney she did not know, and had no reason to know, that Dr. Footer was paid by the County when he delivered Luis. Petitioner also asserted that the defendants would not be prejudiced if the motion we re granted because Holy Cross s records regarding Luis s birth are available, and Dr. Footer and Dr. David S olberg, the o bstetrical reside nt who p articipated in th e delivery, are still available to testify. At the m otions hear ing on Jan uary 29, 2003 , Petitioner urg ed the Circ uit Court to find good cause to justify the belated n otice based upon the c oncept of excusab le neglec t or mista ke. At the close of the motions hearing, the presiding judge, the Honorable Patrick L. Woodward, determined that even if Ms. Rios lacked actual knowledge that the clinic was a County facility and that there was a relationship between Dr. Footer and the County, she had an affirm ative duty to inqu ire as to the lega l identity of the De fenda nt. According to the Circuit Court, even a minimum inquiry would have led Ms. Rios to disco ver Dr. Footer s connection to the Co unty. In expressing his reasoning, Judge Woodward determined that the appropriate standard to apply is that of due diligence and that Ms. Rios failed to exercise any due diligence, stating: The problem is that for a period of over eight and a half years, there s no eviden ce that [M s. Rios] did a nything to investigate 7 or prosecute her claim. This was a situation where it was a patent injury, it was not a latent injury; she was aware of that injury, she was aware of the circumstances surrounding the occurrence of the injury. She was aware that her husband wanted to talk to a lawyer and may have talked to a lawyer about what had happened to their child. So the re was clea r notice to her that there was a potential legal claim against the doctors for the injuries sustained by her child. Yet there s no evidence that anything was done. We don t know w hat an inve stigation wo uld have re vealed . . . we simply don t know that because it was never accomplished; it was never done. The Circuit Court then con sidered whether Ms. Rios was on some kind of inquiry notice about whether the doctor was an employee of the County. The court stated that it was satisfied that Ms. Rios had inquiry notice of the County s involvement. In reaching that conclusion, Judge Woodward noted: The clinic is run by the County, exclusively by the County, has the County logo on it, so there seems to me to be evidence here over and abov e the actual k nowled ge that wo uld put a reasonab le person on notice that somehow the County would be involved in this case, as the employer. And she we nt to this clinic because she couldn t afford the delivery, the regular cost of delivery; and that was another indication that the County, or some o ther enti ty was inv olved in the deliv ery. So I thin k fro m the fac ts of this c ase, w hile s he m ay not have actually known the employm ent status, she certainly had reasonab le indication that the County was involved, and potentially responsible for what had happened in the course of the d elive ry. The court then considered whether Ms. Rios established good cause for her failure to comply with the notice requirement. Concluding that she did not, the court stated: I can t get pa st the fact that there sim ply was no evidence of 8 investigation, no evidence of prosecution of this claim for over eight and a half years after the injury occ urred. The requirement of notice is 180 days. She had an obligation under the law to make that investigation. And if that investigation had not disclosed employme nt, if that investigation had been reasonab ly conducted and there was a delay in discovery of employment status, then I think it would be a whole different picture. But that investigation simply was not done, and I think the standard for good cause requ ires me to find or determ ine where there was a prosecution of the claim with the degree of diligence of an ordinary prudent person. I think an ordinary prudent person would have done some investigation and none was done over eight and a half years, according to the evidence in the record. I simply cannot find good cause on the record in this case. And acco rdingly, and for these reasons and reluctantly, the Court will deny the motion to waive the requirement of timely notice. In an order dated January 29, 2003, Judge Woodward denied the Motion to Waive Requirem ents of Timely Notice Under the Local Government Tort Claims Act and to Per mit Action to Proceed and d ismissed with prejudice P etitioner s Third Amen ded Co mplaint w ith respect to Montgom ery County and Dr. Footer. 8 Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration on February 28, 2003, which asked the Circuit Court to reconsider whether good caus e exc used the f ailur e to c omp ly with the time ly notice re quireme nt. A dditiona lly, Petitioner asserted, for the first time, that the notice requirement was unconstitutional as 8 This decision to grant Montgomery County s Motion to Dismiss or for Partial Summary Judgment terminated the proceedings against Montgom ery County and Dr. Footer and settled the rights of Petitioner with respect to those parties. This order is final in the traditional sense: an unqualified order granting a motion to dismiss . . . thereby putting the parties out of court, is a final appealable order. Planning Bd. Of Howard County v. Mortimer, 310 Md. 639, 651, 530 A.2d 1237, 1243 (1987), quoting Houghton v. County Comm issioners of K ent Coun ty, 305 M d. 407, 4 12, 504 A.2d 1 145, 11 48 (19 86). 9 applied to minors. The Circu it Court denied the motion on April 2, 2003, without a hearing. On May 2, 2003, Petitioner noted an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. Faced with similar arguments, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the decision of the Circuit Court and held that because Ms. Rios was on notice that there may have been an invasion of . . . legal rights . . . by the doctor, it was incumbent upo n her to investigate. It observed that the burden was on Ms. Rios to disc over Dr. F ooter s iden tity and his relationship with Montgomery County, and she did not do so. The cou rt found p articularly important the fact that M s. Rios did n ot claim that D r. Footer or th e County thwarted her effort to uncover such information. Therefore, the Court of Special Appeals concluded that the Circuit Court correctly determined that Ms. Rios s failure to make any inquiry whatsoever as to the doctor s identity o r emplo yment sta tus did n ot cons titute go od cau se. With respect to the assertion that the notice requireme nt of the L GTC A is unconstitutional as applied to minors, the C ourt of Special Appeals also found the argument to be withou t merit. The court held that the effect of the notice requirement on a minor whose claim arises under the LGTCA does not violate Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights because it is a reasonable restriction upon access to the courts. Moreover, the court stated that because the legislature has waiv ed sovere ign immu nity in limited contexts, it also has the power to establish the conditions for such a waiver to be effective and to exempt minors from complian ce with tho se condition s. Thus, the c ourt held that it would usurp the legislature s power to judicially create a n exceptio n not conta ined in 10 the statu te. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari with th is Court on July 16, 2004, presenting two issues for our consideration: I. Whether the Court of Special Appeals erred in finding that the 180-day notice requirement of Section 5-304 (a) of the Local Government Tort Claims Act is not unconstitutional as applied to minors? II. Whethe r the Cour t of Specia l Appeals erred in affirming the Circuit Court s finding that Petitioner had not shown good cause for waiving th e requirem ent of timely notice under Section 5304 (a) of the Loca l Govern ment To rt Claims A ct? 9 On September 15, 2004, we granted th e petition and issu ed the w rit of cer tiorari. Rios v. Montgomery County , 383 Md. 211, 857 A.2d 1159 ( 2004) . We find that the 180-day notice requirement of Section 5-304 (a) o f the LG TCA is constitutional under the Federal Constitution and the M aryland Dec laration of R ights 10 as applied to minors where the underlying local governmental action was governmental as opposed to proprietary in nature. Moreover, we hold that the Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Petitioner failed to show good cause for the failure to comply with the notice requirement under the LGTCA. Therefore, we affirm the Court of Special Appeals s determination that the Circuit Court properly granted Montgomery County and Dr. Footer s motion to dismiss 9 The issues befo re this Cou rt were pre sented in the reverse order in the Petition for a Writ of Certiora ri; howev er, due to the nature of th e questions presented, we find it m ore appropriate to address the issues in the order set forth in this opinion. 10 Petitioner did not raise a ny argumen ts under Article 24 of the Maryland Constitution. 11 with pr ejudice . II. Standard of Review When determ ining a statute s constitutionality under the Equal Protection Clause or Due Process Cla use, unless a suspect or q uasi-suspe ct class is create d or a fun damenta l or important right is implica ted, the appr opriate stand ard of revie w of co nstitutionality is whether there is a rational basis for the created class or limited proces s affor ded. See Murphy v. Edmonds, 325 M d. 342, 3 55-56 , 601 A .2d 102 , 108-0 9 (199 2). We have con sistently followed the principle that a court w ill, whenev er reasona bly possible, construe an d apply a statute to avoid casting serious doubt upon its constitutionality. R.A. Ponte Architects, LTD v. Investors Alert, Inc., 382 M d. 689, 718, 857 A.2d 1, 18 (2004), quoting Becker v. State, 363 M d. 77, 92 , 767 A .2d 816 , 824 (2 001). The question of whether good cause fo r a waiver o f a conditio n precede nt exists is clearly within the discretion of the trial cou rt. Heron v. Strader, 361 Md. 258, 270, 761 A.2d 56, 62 (2000). As we stated in Wilson v. Crane, __ Md. __, __, __ A.2d __, __ (February 10, 2005): There is an abuse of discretion where no reasonable person would take the view adopted by the [trial ] court[ ] . . . or when the court acts w ithout refere nce to any guiding principles. An abuse of discretion may also be found where the ruling under consideration is clearly against the logic and effect of facts and inferences before the court[] . . . or when the ruling is violative of fac t and log ic. Questions within the discretion of the trial court are much better decided by the trial judges than by appellate courts, and the decisions of such judges should only be disturbed where 12 it is apparent that some serious error or abuse of discretion or autocratic action has occurred. In sum, to be reversed [t]he decision under consideration has to be well removed from any center mark imagin ed by the reviewing court and beyond the fringe o f wha t that cou rt deem s minim ally accep table. Id., quoting In re Adoption/Guardianship No. 3598, 347 Md. 295, 312-13, 701 A.2d 110, 118-19 (1997) (citations omitted). Thus, an abuse of discretion should only be found in the extraordinary, exceptional, or most egregious case. Id. III. Discussion Petitioner contends that the 180-day notice requirement of the LGTCA is an unreason able restriction on h is access to the courts in violation of Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. He argues that although the notice requirement is not a statute of limitations, it functions as one by restricting a minor s access to the courts when notice is not given. In support of his position, Petitioner asserts that it is unreasonable to require m inors to rely on their parents to provide the notice mandated by statute. Therefore, he concludes that the notice is u nconstitution al under A rticle 19 of th e Maryland Declaration of R ights. Petitioner also argues that the notice requ irement of the LGTCA violates the Equal Protection Clause and due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. He asserts that the distinction between private tortfeasors and local government entities is irrational a nd serves n o real bene ficial or legitima te purpo se. He also contends that the notice requirement divides the victims of local governm ent tortfeaso rs into two arbitrary classes: adults and minors. Petitioner posits that such a distinction creates an 13 unreason able hurdle that d enies mino rs their right to equa l protection u nder the law . With respect to his claims of due process violations, Petitioner contends that the notice requirement denies him a vested property right without due process of law. He argues that because the LGTCA created more than a remedy, but ra ther a new cause of a ction, it follows that the c ause of action is subjec t to due p rocess p rotectio ns. Fina lly, Petitioner argues that the Circuit Court abused its discretion w hen it determined that a mino r child mus t comply with the requirement of timely notice under the LGTCA. He contends that because he was only six months old when th e notice period expired, he could not satisfy the notice requ irement ind ependen tly. Thus, Petitione r asserts that minority per se constitutes go od cause for waiv ing the requ irement of timely notice under the LGTCA, because to find otherwise would assume that a legally disabled minor could have given notice or that an adult could have done so on his behalf. He argu es that his status as a minor and the fact that Ms. Rios did not know, and had no reason to know, that Dr. Footer was employed by Montgomery County, establishes good cause for waiving the notice re quirem ent und er the L GTC A. Montgom ery County argues that the notice requireme nt of the LGTCA neither violates the Federal Constitution nor the Maryland Declaration of Rights. It notes that minors have the same access to courts as other claimants do because all claimants are required to serve notice to protect their a bility to file suit. The County asserts that the notice requirement does not violate constitutional principles of equal protection or due process and does not 14 unreason ably interfere with the access to courts protected in Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights because it is reasonable in light of the legitimate purpose of the LGT CA. In addressing Petitioner s cla im that mino rity should constitute good cause per se, the County notes that Se ction 5-304 (b) of the C ourts and Judic ial Proceed ings Article provides that notice may be given by the representative of the claimant as well as to the claimant himself. T he Cou nty argues that the statute lacks a tolling provision for minority; as such, any consideration of minority as good cause must be made on a case-by-case basis by the trial court in its discretion, which in the present case appropriately exercised such discretion. Furthermore, Montg omery Cou nty contends th at the Circu it Court prop erly found th at Petitioner failed to show good cause for h is failure to give notice during the statutory period. The County asse rts that failure to take any action during the statutorily prescribed period does not establish good cause f or waiver and that m ere ignorance of D r. Footer s employment status does not constitu te good cause u nder th e LGT CA. Montgomery County opines that although Ms. Rios had the opportunity to discover such informatio n, she did not do so, and therefo re, the C ircuit Co urt shou ld be af firmed . A. The History of Local Governmental Immunity and the LGTCA To understand the purposes and constitutionality of the notice provision of the LGTCA and the good cause exception, we must examine the status of local governmental immunity from the initiation of a suit, up to, and including the enactment of the LGTCA. 15 We had the op portunity to explicate the historical development of local governmental tort immunity in Housing Authority v . Bennett, 359 Md. 356, 754 A.2d 367 (2000). As we noted in that opinio n, [u]ntil the twentieth century, local governments generally had no immunity under Maryland co mmon law in either tort or contract actions. Id. at 358, 754 A.2d at 368. In the early twentieth century, however, we adopted a distinction that had been developed earlier in other ju risdictions, and held that local governm ents enjoyed im munity in certain types of tort actions based on activity categorized as governmental but had no immunity in tort actions based on activity categorized as private or corporate or proprietary. Id. at 359, 754 A.2d at 368; see also D iPino v. D avis, 354 Md. 18, 47, 729 A.2d 354, 369-70 (1999) ( A local governmental entity is liable for its torts if the tortious conduct o ccurs wh ile the entity is acting in a private or p roprietary capa city, but, unless its immunity is legislatively waived, it is immune from liability for tortious conduct committed while the entity is a cting in a govern menta l capac ity. ). We recognized that regardless of the capacity in which the local government was functioning, it possessed no immu nity for certain types of torts, such as nuisance actions, see e.g., Board v . Town o f Riverdale , 320 Md. 384, 389-90, 578 A.2d 207, 210 (1990); tort actions arising u nder th e Mar yland Co nstitution , see e.g., DiPino, 354 Md. at 50-51, 729 A.2d at 371; and tort liability for violations of federal constitutional or statuto ry rights, see e.g., Ashton v. Brown, 339 Md. 70, 110-113, 660 A.2d 447, 46 7-68 (1 995). Prior to the LGTCA, the immunity of local governments afforded through the 16 common law based on activities categorized as gove rnmental, w as waive d under sp ecific circumstances by enactments of the General Assembly. See e.g., Md. Code (1957, 1998 Repl. Vol., 2004 Cum. Supp.), Art. 44A (authorizing the creation of housing authorities and effecting a limited waiver of any governmental immunity). Also, prior to the enactment of the LGTCA, some county governments were empowered to waive any governmental immunity that they would otherwise be entitled to under the c omm on law . See e.g., Bradshaw v. Prince G eorge s C ounty, 284 Md. 294 , 297-99, 396 A .2d 255, 258-59 (1 979), overruled on other g rounds b y James v. Prince G eorge s C ounty, 288 Md. 315, 418 A.2d 1173 (1980) (holding under former Md. Code (1957, 1998 Repl. Vol.), Art. 25A, § 5(S) that Prince George s County possessed the power to waive its governmental immunity through its county charter); Md. Code (1 957, 198 1 Repl. Vol., 1986 Cum. Supp.), Art 25A, § 5(CC) (repealed) (limiting waivers of governmental immunity to the greater of $250,000.00 or the amount of insurance coverage).11 Thus, prior to the enactment of the LGTCA, local governm ents enjoyed immunity from tort liability only with respect to no n-constitution al torts based on activity classified as governmental, and such immunity could be waived by the General Assembly or local enactments. This limitation on th e immun ity from tort action with respect to local governments remains applicable today under the LGTCA. In 1987, the Gen eral A ssem bly enacted Chapter 594 of the Acts of 1987, which 11 Md. Code (1957, 1981 Repl. Vol., 1986 Cum. Supp.), Art. 25A, § 5(CC) was repealed by § 1 of Ch. 594 of the Acts of 1987, which also enacted the LGTCA. 17 repealed prior statutory provisions and replaced them with the LGTCA . 1987 Md. Laws, Chap. 594, § 1. [T]he purpose of the LGTCA is to provide a remedy for those injured by local government officers and employees acting without malice and in the scope of employment. Faulk v. Ewing, 371 M d. 284, 298 , 808 A.2d 1262, 12 72 (2002 ); Moore v. Norouzi, 371 Md. 154, 165, 807 A.2d 632, 639 (2002); Ashton, 339 Md. at 107-08, 660 A.2d at 465. The Act affords a remedy to those injured by acts of local government officers and employees, while ensuring that the financial burden of compensation is carried by the local government ultimately responsible for the public officials acts. Ashton, 339 Md. at 108, 660 A.2d at 466. Sections 5-304 (a) and (b) o f the LG TCA provide tha t potential claim ants must give notice of impen ding claim s within 180 days of the injury, and that such notice be given to de signated go vernmen t officials or o ther represen tatives: (a) Notice required. Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, an action for unliquidated damages may not be brought against a loc al governm ent or its employees unless the notice of the claim required by this section is given within 180 days afte r the injury. (b) Manner of giving notice. (1) Except in Anne Arundel Cou nty, Baltimore County, Harford County, and Prince George s County, the notice shall be given in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested, bearing a postmark from the United S tates Postal S ervice, by the cla imant or the representative of the claimant, to the county commissioner, county council, or corporate authorities of a defendant local government, or: (I) In Baltimore City, to the City Solicitor; (ii) In Howard County, to the County Executive; and (iii) In M ontg ome ry County, to the C ounty Execu tive. 18 (Empha sis added). Md. Code, § 5-304(a), (b) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article. The notice requirement of Sections 5-304 (a) and (b) are intended to apprise a local government of its possible liability at a time when it could conduct its own investigation, i.e., while the evidence was still fresh and the recollection of the witnesses was undiminished by time, sufficie nt to ascertain the charac ter and exten t of the injury an d its respons ibility in connection with it. Faulk, 371 Md. at 298-99, 808 A.2d at 1272, quoting Williams v. Maynard, 359 Md. 379, 389-90, 754 A.2d 379, 385 (2000), quoting in turn Jackson v. Bd. of County Comm rs, 233 Md. 164, 167, 195 A.2 d 693, 69 5 (1963). W e have ex pressly held that the LGTCA notice requirements are a condition precedent to maintaining an action against a local government or its employees to the extent othe rwise not e ntitled to imm unity under the LG TCA . Faulk, 371 Md. at 304, 808 A.2d 1276; Grubbs v. Princ e George s County, 267 Md. 318, 320-21, 297 A.2d 754, 755-56 (1972) (stating we have regarded it [the predecessor statute to the LGTCA, Md. Code (1957, 1972 Repl. Vol.), Art. 57, § 18] as a condition precedent to the right to maintain an action for damages ); see also Neuenschwander v. Washington Suburban Sanitary Comm n, 187 Md. 67, 77, 48 A.2d 593, 599 (1946) (stating that the no tice is a condition preceden t to the right to maintain the suit ), overruled on other grounds by statute as stated in Arnold v. Prince G eorge s C ounty, 270 Md. 285, 311 A.2d 22 3 (1973); Leppo v. State Highway Admin., 330 Md. 416, 423, 624 A.2d 539, 542 (199 3) (interpreting a statutory notice r equireme nt in the Maryland Tort Claims Act to be a cond ition preced ent to institution o f a third-party actio n against the State); Redfern 19 v. Holtite Mfg. Co., 209 M d. 106, 1 11-12 , 120 A .2d 370 , 372-73 (1956) (finding that statutory notice was a condition precedent to applying for payment for deaths pursuant to the Work men s Com pensat ion Ac t). We hav e previous ly defined a c ondition pre cedent as a condition attached to the right to sue at all. Waddell v. Kirkpatrick, 331 Md. 52, 59 , 626 A.2d 353 , 356 (1993). It operates as a limitation of the liability itself as created, and not of the remedy alone. Id., quoting State v. Parks, 148 M d. 477, 480 , 129 A. 79 3, 794 (19 25). The liability and the remedy are created by the same statutes, and th e limitations of the remed y are, therefore, to be treated a s limitatio ns of th e right. Id. Conversely, a statute of limitations aff ects only the remed y, not the c ause of action. Id. A condition precedent cannot be waived under the common law and a failure to satisfy it can be raised at any time bec ause the ac tion itself is fatally flawed if the condition is not satisfied. This requirement of strict or substantial compliance with a con dition precedent is of course subject to abrogation by the General Ass emb ly, see, e.g., State v. Manck, __ Md. __, __ A.2d __ (2005) (recognizing the legislature s ability to enact statutes that abroga te the com mon law ); Davis v. Slater, 383 Md. 599, 615-16, 861 A.2d 78, 87-88 (2004) (same); State v. Green, 367 Md. 61, 76-77, 785 A.2d 1275, 1283-84 (2001) (same), which it has done through the creation of the good cause excep tion to th e LGT CA. B. Governmental and Proprietary Activities Before we can address Petitioner s arguments with respect to the Equal Protection 20 Clause, the Due Process Clause, and Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, we must determine whether Montgomery County s provision of health care through the operation of a clinic and subsidization of hospital services is a governme ntal or proprietary function because this conclusion will determine whe ther the County may properly assert immu nity as a de fense in the pres ent actio n. In Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Blueford, 173 Md. 267 , 195 A. 571 (19 37), and reaffirmed in Austin v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 286 Md. 51, 405 A.2d 255 (1979), we recognized the difficulty in distinguishing between those functions which are governmental and those which ar e not, [and] estab lished guide lines in [Blueford]. E. Eyring Co. v. City of Baltimore, 253 M d. 380, 3 82-83 , 252 A .2d 824 , 825 (1 969). W e stated, in truth there is no universally accepted or all-inclusive test to determine whether a given act of a municipality is private or governmenta l in its nature, bu t the question is usually determined by the public p olicy recognize d in the jurisd iction w here it ar ises. Blueford, 173 Md. at 27 5-76, 195 A. at 576. T herefore, w e crafted the following guidelines: Where the act in question is sanctioned by legislative auth ority, is solely for the public benefit, with no profit or emolument inuring to the municipality, and tends to ben efit the pub lic health and promote th e welfare of the whole public, and has in it no element of private interest, it is governmental in its nature. Id. at 276, 195 A. at 576. M oreover, w e explained that: [I]t is better that the adequate performance of such an act be secured by public prosecution and punishment of officials who violate the duties im posed up on them in respect to it than to disburse public funds dedicated to the maintenance of such 21 public conveniences as public parks, playgrounds, hospitals, swimming pools, and beaches maintained at the public expense to private persons who have suffered loss through the negligence or default of municipal employees or agents charged with their m anagem ent. Id. In Gutowski v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 127 Md. 502 , 96 A. 630 (191 6), we created a temporal means of categorizing local government ac tion as either proprietary or governm ental in nature, and we noted that all of the cases imposing liability on municipalities had involved prop rietary functions. Id. at 508, 96 A. at 632. Extensive research has revealed no case prior to Gutowski where this Court has determined that a local government s provision o f subsidize d health car e to less affluent res idents, or mo re generally the administration of a hospital by a municipality, created liability on the part of the local govern ment a s a prop rietary fun ction. In fact, ou r cases a ppear to indicate the con trary. In Finan v. Mayor and City Council of Cumberland, 154 Md. 563, 141 A. 269 (1928 ), we recognized that [f]or many years there has been general statutory authority giv en to municipal and county au thorities i n M arylan d to p rovide hospi tals o r tem pora ry places for the reception of the sick . . . . And during a large part of the existence of state gov ernment, hospitals of various kinds have been maintained here by governmental agencies, and it has generally been regarded and treated as a normal governmental activity. Id. at 564-65, 141 A. at 270; see also Thom as v. Bd. O f County C ommis sioners of P rince Ge orge s Co unty, 200 Md. 554, 559, 92 A.2d 452, 454 (1952) (noting that [p]erhaps it has been assumed by 22 litigants that a mun icipality is no more liable than a charitable corporation. In at least two cases in this Court, operation of a hospital is mentioned as an illustration of just such a governmental function ); Blueford, 173 Md. at 276, 195 A. at 576 (stating, in dicta, that hospita ls are co nsidere d gove rnmen tal func tions of the mu nicipality). Moreover, it is beyond question that the County s program providing prenatal he alth care to low-income m others residin g therein is so lely for the pub lic benefit an d tends to benefit the public health and promote the welfare of the public. The County s program enables mothers who o therwise would not be able to afford p renatal care o r to have the ir child delivered in a hospital to do so in an amount reduced from $5,000.00 to $1,500.00 payable solely to the hosp ital.12 As a result, the County s program, Project D elivery, in this circumstance is entitled to abs olute gove rnmental im munity under the terms of the LGTCA. Therefore, Petitioner cannot prevail on the claim directly against Montgomery County due to its governmental immunity. Thus, the only issue remaining is the applicability of the 180day notice re quirem ent with respec t to Petitio ner s cla im aga inst Dr. Footer and Montgomery County s obligation to defend and indemnify Dr. Footer under the LGTCA. C. Constitutional Claims 12 Although Ms. Rios paid $ 8.00 per visit to the clinic run by the Mo ntgomery C ounty Health Department, we have stated that the mere receipt of a fee for a service does not automatica lly convert an otherwise governmental function into a proprietary one. Austin v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 286 Md. 51, 66, 405 A.2d 255, 263 (1979). Moreo ver, in Austin, we held that where the fee is nominal, we may infer a lack of profits inurin g to the Coun ty from its c ollection . Id. 23 Petitioner argues that the notice provision of the LGTCA as applied to minors violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, deprives him of a p roperty interest without due process of law under the Fourteen th Amen dment, and denies him access to the courts in v iolation of A rticle 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Although we have not addressed the constitutionality of the notice provision of the LGTCA , specific ally, we recently had the opportunity to address similar issues with respect to the 180-day claim condition precedent of the Maryland Tort Claims Act 13 as applied to minors in Johnson v. Maryland State Police, 331 Md. 285, 628 A.2d 162 (1993 ), using analysis that we find appropriate to the case at bar, because of the similarity of terminology and purpose in the two 13 Md. Code (1984), § 12-106 (b) of the State Government Article provided: A claimant m ay not institute an action under this subtitle unless: (1) the claimant submits a written claim to the Treasu rer or a designee of th e Tre asur er w ithin 180 days after the injury to the person or property that is the basis of the claim; (2) the Treasurer or designee denies the claim finally; and (3) the action is filed within 3 years after the cause of action arises. In 1995, the General Assembly amended Section 12-106 (b) of the State Gov ernment A rticle to extend the period for filing the claim from 180-days to one year. 1995 Md. Laws Ch. 437, § 1. The leng th of the statu tory period do es not alter the analysis or its app licability to the notice requirement of the LGTCA. The Maryland Tort Claims Act was enacted by the General Assembly in 1984 for the purpose of creating a remedy for individuals injured by tortious conduct attributable to the State. Md. Cod e (1984), § 12-102 of the State Govern ment Ar ticle. Both the Maryland Tort Claims Act and the LGTCA were designed to expand the individual s righ t to obtain remuneration for injury from the government, and the purpose of both conditions precedent were to provide notice to the government so that it may better predict liability and make appropriate budgetary decisio ns. See Fau lk, 371 Md. at 298-99, 808 A.2d at 1272, quoting Williams v. Maynard, 359 Md. 379 , 389-90, 754 A .2d 379, 385 (200 0), quoting in turn Jackson v. Bd. of County Comm rs, 233 Md. 164 , 167, 195 A.2d 6 93, 695 (1963). 24 statutes, which is to permit the governmental entity involved to better predict its potential costs for futu re budg eting. See Heron, 361 Md. at 263-64, 761 A.2d at 58-59 (adopting the time of injury interpre tation unde r the Mar yland Tort Claims A ct for the purposes of the LGTC A). Therefo re, because the 180-d ay claim requirement of the M aryland Tort Claims Act, like the 180-day notice requirement of the LGTCA, is a condition precedent to the filing of a suit rather tha n a statute of limitations, we find our constitutional analysis in Johnson equally applicable to the case sub judice. In Johnson, the plaintiffs, minors at the time of the events at issue in the case, sued the State for damages arising out of an automobile accident involving a State police vehicle. Johnson, 331 Md. at 288, 628 A.2d at 163. Thirteen months after the accident, the plaintiffs, through their atto rney, filed a notice of claim with the State T reasure r. Id. After the claimants filed a c ompla int in the Circuit C ourt fo r Alleg any Cou nty, the State moved to dismiss because the claimants failed to satisfy the 180-day claim requirement set forth in the Maryland State Tort C laims Act. 14 Id. The Circuit Court granted the State s motion and 14 Md. Code (198 4, 2002 Re pl. Vol.), § 12 -106 (b) of the State G overnm ent Article provides: (b) Claim and denial required. A claimant may not institute an action under this subtitle unless: (1) the claimant submits a written claim to the Treasurer or a designee of the Treasurer within 180 days after the injury to person or property that is the basis of the claim; (2) the Treasurer or designee denies the claim finally; and (3) the action is filed within 1 year after the claim is denied finally or 3 years after th e cause of action arises, w hichever is later. 25 denied the claim ants m otion fo r recon sideratio n. Id. at 288-89, 628 A.2d at 163. In Johnson, the claimants presented arguments nearly identical to those argued by Petitioner in the present case. The Johnson claimants argued that the 1 80-day claim requirement arbitrarily created two classes of injured parties, namely those injured by government torts and th ose damaged by private torts in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, that the application that the claim requirement deprive[d] them of a property right without due process of law because it denies them the ability to prosecute their claim against the State, and tha t the claim req uirement, as applied to minors, denied them a remedy in the courts as guaran teed by Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Johnson, 331 Md. a t 292, 62 8 A.2d at 165. Equal Protection Claims In Johnson, the claimants conceded that the classification created by the condition precedent was not su bject to strict scrutiny or heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the F ourteen th Am endm ent. Id.15 Rather, they argued that the classification had no rational basis an d thus, w as unco nstitution al. Id. In the case at bar, Petitioner also conceded that the ration al basis test w as the appro priate standa rd to apply. In Johnson, we 15 Section 1 o f the Fou rteenth Am endmen t provides in pertinent pa rt: No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State dep rive any perso n of life, liber ty, or p rope rty, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. 26 determined that because no suspect or quasi-suspect class was created and no fundamental or important rig ht was im plicated, ration al basis was th e prope r test. Id. at 295-97, 628 A.2d at 167. Likewise, we find that rational basis remains the applicable level of scrutiny in the case sub judice. We have stated that [a] statutory classification viewed u nder the ratio nal basis standard enjoys a strong presump tion of con stitutionality and will be invalidated only if the classification is clearly arbitrary. Murphy, 325 Md. at 356, 601 A.2d at 10 8. We w ill not declare the statute un constitutiona l unless the v arying treatmen t of different groups or persons is so unrelated to the achievement of any combination of legitimate purposes that [the Court] can only conclude that the [governmental] actions were irrational. Id. at 355, 601 A .2d at 10 8. The Johnson claimants relied upon the holdings in cases from a small number of jurisdictions which adhered to the minority view that distinguishing between private and governmental tortfeasors failed the rational basis test. Id. at 293, 628 A.2d at 165-66. We, however, rejected such a position and instead agreed with those cases holding that administrative claim requirements, in statutes waiving state governmental tort immunity, do not violate equal protection principles. Id. at 296, 628 A.2d at 167. We noted that [w]hether, and to what extent there should be state gov ernmental immu nity from tort suits has long been regarded as the prerogative of the Maryland General Assembly. Id. Moreover, we fou nd that the 180-day claim requireme nt meets the rational basis 27 test. Id. We agreed that because of the State s greater capacity for tort liability, the administrative requirement allows the State to predict its potential tort liability more accu ratel y, so that it may enact a more accurate annual budget. Id. Furthermore, we found that the claim requirement enables the State to make early decisions on the merits of particular claims, and allows the State to take remedial safety measures more quickly, thereby minimizing the cost of litigation for the taxpayers. Id. We held that such reasons furnish rational grounds for d ifferentiating between claims against the State and claims against private tortfeasors. Id. In the present case, Petitioner presents arguments similar to those of the Johnson plaintiffs concerning the application of the 180-day no tice requirem ent of the L GTC A to minors and urges us to find that no rational basis exists for the distinction between an employee of the local government as tortfeasor where the local government is required to defend and indemnify the employee an d private individuals, and thus, to overrule Johnson. We decline to do so, and instead, adopt the reasoning in Johnson as equally applicable to the notice requireme nt of the L GTC A whe re the local go vernmen t is involved in a governmental functio n. We have reco gnized tha t [t]he Leg islature thus has the po wer to en act a statute requiring that, bef ore suit f or dam ages sh all be ins tituted ag ainst a m unicipa l corpo ration, a written notice of the claim sh all be presen ted to the municipal authorities within a specified period after inju ry or dam age is su stained . Neuenschwander, 187 Md. at 76, 48 A.2d at 599. 28 As we have stated previously, the purpose of requiring notice was to protect the municipalities and counties of the State from meretricious claimants and exaggerated claims by providing a mechanism whereb y the municip ality or county would be apprised of its possible liability at a time when it could conduct its own investigation. Maynard, 359 Md. at 389-90, 754 A.2d at 385, quoting Bartens v . City of Baltimore, 293 Md. 620, 626, 446 A.2d 1136, 1138-39 (1982). Among other functions, the notice requirement enables the local government to relatively accurately predict its potential tort liability and budget accordingly. Therefore, we conclude, consistent with our reasoning in Johnson, that the reasons set forth herein furnish sufficient rational basis for differentiating between claims against employees o f the local go vernmen t when the activity at issue is go vernmen tal and claims against priva te tortfeasors. W e hold that the notice requirement of the LGTCA does not violate the Equal Pro tection Clau se of the F ourteenth A mendm ent. Deprivation of Due Process of Law Claims In Johnson, we addressed claims of due process violations identical to those presented in the present case. Like Petitioner in the case at bar, the claimants in Johnson relied primarily on the decision of the Supreme Court of Michigan in Grubaugh v. City of St. Johns, 180 N.W .2d 778 (Mich . 1970) . Johnson, 331 Md. at 298, 628 A.2d a t 168. The court in Grubaugh held that a 60-day administrative claim requirement, which was a condition for bringing a tort suit again st a govern mental en tity, was, as applied to minors, a violation of substantive due pro cess. Grubaugh, 180 N.W.2d at 783-84. The Grubaugh opinion was 29 based on several premises, including that the waiver of governmental immunity was intended to put governmental entities on the same level as private tortfeasors, that the plaintiff had a vested property right in a tort cause of action against the tortfeasor, and that the administrative claim requirement w as arbitrary. Id. Thus, the Grubaugh court concluded that the claim requirement represented an arbitrary infringement on the plaintiff s vested proper ty right and thus w as a vio lation of substan tive due proces s. Id. at 784. Judge Eldridge, w riting for this Court, in Johnson, however, rejected the Grubaugh reasoning, stating, [A] conditional or partial waiv er of sove reign imm unity certainly is not intended to put g overnm ental en tities on e xactly the same f ooting as priva te tortfea sors. Johnson, 331 Md. at 298, 628 A.2d at 168. Moreover, we stated that we cannot agree that there is a constitutionally protected vested property right in a particular common law tort cause of action, id. at 298-99, 628 A .2d at 168, nor did w e consider the administrative claims requirement as arbitrary or unreasonable based upon our discussion of the plaintiffs other co nstitution al claim s. Id. at 299, 628 A.2d at 169. We con tinue to remain unconvinced by the reasoning explicated in Grubaugh. The LGTCA cannot be considered to have been intended to put local go vernmen ts participating in governmental activities on the same footing as priv ate tortfeaso rs, as the LG TCA only requires local governments to defend and indemnify their employees if the provisions of the LGTCA are satisfied. Furthermore, we continue to adhere to the view that under the circumstances of the case at bar it is not possible to have a property interest in a cause of 30 action arising out of a comm on law tort. Johnson, 331 Md. at 298-99, 628 A.2d at 168; Murphy, 325 Md. at 362-64, 601 A.2d at 112, quoting Duke Power C o. v. Carolina Env. Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 88 n.32, 98 S.Ct. 2620, 2638 n.32, 57 L.Ed.2d 595, 620 n.32 (1978) ( [o]ur cases have clearly established that [a] person has no property, no vested interest, in any rule of the common law ). We determine, therefore, that the notice requirement of the LGTCA does not act to deprive Petitioner of a vested property interest without due process of law. Claims und er Article 19 of the M aryland D eclaration of Righ ts Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights provides: That every man, for any injury done to him in his person or prop erty, ought to have remedy by the course of the Law of the land, and oug ht to have justice a nd right, f reely without sale, fully without any denial, and spee dily w ithout de lay, according to the Law of the land. Petitioner, like the claim ants in Johnson, argues that, if the 180-day notice requirement is not tolled for minors, the requirement violates their right of access to the courts under Article 19. Johnson, 331 Md. at 292, 628 A.2d at 165. As we stated in Johnson, Article 19 doe s guara ntee ac cess to th e courts . . . . however, a statutory restriction upon access to the courts violates Article 19 only if the restriction is unreasonable. Johnson, 331 Md. at 297, 628 A.2d at 168, quoting Murphy, 325 Md. at 365, 601 A.2 d at 113; see e.g., Lee v. Cline, 384 Md. 245, 263, 863 A.2d 297, 308 (2004); Piselli v. 75th Street Medical, 371 Md. 188, 205-06, 808 A.2d 508, 518 (2002). 31 As with th e Mar yland To rt Claim s Act, the General Assembly has waived the local government s ability to avoid responsibility for the defense and indemnification of employees under the LGTCA, but has required timely notice as a condition of that waiver. Prior to the enactment of the LGTCA, the County would not have been required to defend and indemnify its employees for wrongdoing committed during a governmental activity. The individual would have had no assurance that a judgment would be paid. The LGTCA provides such guarantees if no tice is fur nish ed w ithin 180-days of th e inju ry. In so doing, we recognize that a minor is depende nt upon an adult to comply with the notice provision, but, we cannot craft an addendu m to the L GTC A to toll the requirement. That is the prerogative of the General Assem bly. Nevertheless, Petitioner relies primarily on our reasoning in Piselli v. 75th Street Medical, 371 Md. 188, 808 A.2d 508 (2002), a more recent case than Johnson, although similarly authored by Judge Eldridge, for the argument that the 180-day notice requirement as applied to minors violates Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. In Piselli, the parents of a son with extensive damage to the growth plates brought a medical malpractice action as next friend of their son five years after his injury, beyond the time period of the s tatute of limitation s. Id. at 196, 808 A.2d at 512-13. The question presented to this Court was whether the time limitations prescribed by [Section] 5-109 [of the Courts 32 and Judicial Pro ceedings A rticle 16 ], as applied to an injured minor s claim, are unreas onable restrictions upon a traditional remed y and the minor s access to the c ourts and, therefore, are in violation of Article 19 [of the Maryland Declaration of Rights]. Id. at 208, 808 A.2d at 519-20. In Piselli, we found that it was an established principle in Maryland law that time periods for bringing suit are tolled during infancy. Id. at 214, 808 A.2d at 523. We determined that [t]he restrictions upon a minor s remedy and access to the courts, contained in subsections (b), (c) and (e) of [Section] 5-109 represent a drastic departure from a 16 Md. Code (1987, 2002 Repl. Vol., 2004 Cum. Supp.), § 5-109 of the Courts and Judicial Proceed ings Article e ntitled Ac tions agains t health care providers sta tes in pertinent pa rt: (a) Limitations. An action for damages for an injury arising out of the rendering of or failure to render professional services by a health case provider . . . shall be filed within the earlier of: (1) Five years of the time the injury was committed; or (2) Three years of the date the injury was discovered. (b) Actions by claimants under age 11. Excep t as provide d in subsection (c) of this section, if the claimant was under the age of 11 years at the time the injury was committed, the time limitations prescribed in subsection (a) of this section sh all commence when the claimant reaches the age of 11 years. (c) Exceptions to age limitations in certain actions. (1) The provisions of subsection (b) of this section may not be applied t o an actio n for dam ages for a n injury: (I) To the reproductive system of the claimant; or (ii) Caused by a foreign o bject neglige ntly left in the claimant s body. (2) In an action for damages for an inju ry described in th is subsection, if the claimant was under the age of 16 years at the time the injury was committed, the time limitations prescribed in subsection (a) of this section shall commence when the claima nt reach es the ag e of 16 years. 33 principle which has governed minors causes of action for more than 500 years. Id. at 215, 808 A.2d at 52 4. Theref ore, we co ncluded th at the statutes o f limitations co ntained in Section 5-109 as applied to minors violated Article 19 of the M aryland Dec laration of R ights as an un reason able res triction. Id. There are significant differences between the case at bar and the facts of Piselli. Under the facts of the case sub judice, the LGTCA does not restrict a traditional remedy or access to the courts unlike the effect of Section 5-109 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article. Absent the enactment of the LGTCA, local governments would not be required to defend and indemnify their employees in suits arising out of non-constitutional torts committed during g overnm ental activities other th an nuis ance a ctions, see, e.g., DiPino, 354 Md. at 47, 729 A .2d at 369-7 0 ( A loc al governm ental entity is liable fo r its torts if the tortious con duct occu rs while the entity is actin g in a private o r pro prietary ca paci ty, but, unless its imm unity is legislatively wa ived, it is immune from liability for tortious conduct c ommitted while the entity is acting in a governmental capacity. ). Therefore, the LGTCA cannot b e described as restricting a traditional remedy or access to the courts when it legislatively permits plaintiffs to enforce judgments obtained from suit against the employee against the local government. Moreover, to hold that the reasoning in Piselli applies would be to find that the LGTC A purpo rts to place loc al governm ents or their employees engaged in governmen tal activities in the s ame pos ition legally as the p rivate tortfeasors in Piselli, which w as not the inte nt of the General Assembly. The notice 34 provision of the LGTCA is a condition precedent to the right of action; limitations statutes create defenses. The focus of the two, i.e., notice vis a vis limitations, is very dif ferent. Therefore, both Ms. Rios s and Luis s actions are barred for failing to satisfy the notice requirement of the LGTCA.17 D. Good Cau se Minority As Good Cause Per Se As we stated previously, we have consistently recognized that a local government possesses absolute governmental immunity for activities that are properly categorized as govern mental in nature as opposed to proprietary, and that the General A ssembly, in requiring that notice be provided within a specified window of time, created a condition precedent to a suit wh ere the local g overnm ental entity was required to indemnify and defend its employees by statute. Concomitant with its power to place conditions on an individual s ability to maintain a suit in which the local government must act as an insurer is the General Assembly s ability to relax the strict a pplicability of that condition. As we have stated, the task of abrogating or altering the doctrine of sovereign or governmental immunity is on e to be performed by the legislature. Austin v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 286 Md. 17 If, howev er, the injury at issue in this case had arisen from a proprietary activity by the Cou nty, the Johnson analysis may not be the appropriate analysis to apply; the reasoning explicated in Piselli may be the proper standard because where the County does not have governmental immunity as a defense, it is liable in tort for damages like any other tortfeaso r. See, e.g., DiPino, 354 Md. at 47, 729 A.2d at 369-70; Katz v. Washington Suburban Sanitary Comm n, 284 Md. 503, 508 n.3, 379 A.2d 1027, 1030 n.3 (1979); Mayo r and City Counc il of Baltimore v. State, use of Ahrens, 168 M d. 619, 6 28, 179 A. 169 , 173 (1 935). 35 51, 58, 405 A.2d 255, 259 (1979); see also Faulk, 371 Md. at 310, 808 A.2d at 1278-79 (Cathell, J. dissenting). Any alteration of the lo cal govern ment s ob ligations in a to rt suit, including conditions s et for requirin g defens e and inde mnification of emplo yees, is entirely within the prerogative of the General Assembly. Thus, we find no contradiction or conflict inherent in our statem ents that a co ndition prec edent mu st be either strictly or su bstantially complied with to maintain suit, and the General Assem bly s decision to permit the condition to be waived upon a showing of good cause under the LGTCA. In addition to other factual circumstances pertinent to the case at bar, Petitioner argues that his bein g a m inority per se constitutes good cause under Section 5-304 (c). Section 5-304 (c) of the LGTCA provides for a waiver of the notice requirement stating: Notwithstanding the other provisions of this section, unless the defendant can affirmatively show that its defense has been prejudiced by lack of required notice, upon motion and for good cause shown the court may entertain the suit even though the required notice was not given. Md. Code (1987, 2002 Repl. Vol., 2004 Cum. S upp.), § 5-3 04 (c) of th e Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article. In Heron v. Strader, 361 Md. 258, 761 A.2d 56 (2000), we stated that [t]he test for whether good cause exists pursuant to section 5-304 (c) is whether the claimant prosecuted his claim with that degree of diligence that an ordinarily prudent person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances. Id. at 271, 761 A.2d at 63, citing Westfarm Assoc. v. Washington Suburban Sanitary Comm n, 66 F.3d 6 69, 676-7 7 (4th Cir. 1995). Judge Raker, writing for this Court in Heron, identified four categories of good 36 cause recognized by our sister jurisdictions: Several other jurisdictions have sought to define good cause for late filing under public tort claims acts. While co urts genera lly consider a combination of factors, circumstances that have been found to constitute good cause fit into several broad categories: excusab le neglect or mistake (generally determ ined in reference to a reasonably prudent person standa rd), see, e.g., Viles v. State, 423 P.2d 818, 821 -22 (Cal. 19 67); Black v. Los An geles Cou nty, 12 Cal.App .3d 670, 67 4-75 (197 0); Kleinke v. O cean City , 371 A.2d 785 (N.J. A pp. Div. 19 77); serious p hysical or mental injury and/or location out-of -state, see, e.g., Silva v. New York, 668 N.Y.S.2d 189 (App . Div. 1998); S.E.W. Friel Co., v. New Jersey Turnpike Auth., 373 A.2d 362 (197 7); Kleinke, 371 A.2d at 788; the ina bility to retain counsel in cases involving complex litigation, see, e.g., Torres v. New Jersey Med. Ctr., 356 A.2d 75 (Law Div. 1976); and ignorance of the statutory notice requirement, see, e.g., Bell v. Cam den Co unty, 370 A.2d 886 (N.J. A pp. Div . 1977) . Heron, 361 Md. at 272, 761 A.2d at 63-64.18 We have also found good cause to ex ist where representations made by local government represe ntatives are mis leading . See Moore, 371 Md. at 165, 807 A.2d at 639. From the facts of this case, Petitioner apparently advocates Luis s min ority standing as grounds f or excusa ble mistake or neglect. Petitioner urges us to find that the trial court abused its discretion in determining that Luis as a min ority did no t satisfy the good c ause sta ndard. W e decline to find that a person who is a m inority per se constitutes good cause, because to do so would undermine the 18 In Heron, we did not decide whether ignorance of the statutory notice requirement could constitute good cause under the LGTCA, but rather left that question open and cited to Williams v . Montgo mery C ounty, 123 Md. App. 119, 716 A.2d 1100 (1998), in which the Court of Special Appeals specifically rejected ignorance of the law requiring notice as good cause. Id. at 272 n.13, 761 A.2d at 64 n.13. The question continues to remain open. 37 purpose of the notic e requirem ent and w ould essen tially rewrite the statu te to include a broad exception for minor s that the Ge neral Asse mbly did not contemplate. We are not free to enlarge that consent to be sued which the Government, through [the General Assembly] has undertaken to carefully limit. Mann v. United States, 399 F.2d 672, 67 3 (9th Cir. 1968). If there were a general exemption based on infancy, it would be possible for notice to be effectively delayed for as much as 20 years until the infant had reached his majority, and the investigation of the claim under those circumstances would be extremely difficult if not practically impossible. Mullins v. Thorne, 254 Md. 4 34, 442, 255 A.2d 409, 413 (1969) (examining the 180-day notice condition precedent for filing claims with the Unsatisfied Claim and Judg ment Fund as a pplied to minors). This case is factually similar to the circumstances underlying our opinion in Lopez v. Maryland State Highway Administration, 327 Md. 486, 610 A.2d 778 (1992), another case addressing the application of the notice provision of the Maryland T ort Claims Act to minors. In that case, Helen Lopez filed a wrongful death action as next friend of her newborn son arising out of the d eath of he r son s puta tive father eig ht months prior to the ch ild s birth under the Maryland Tort Claims Ac t. Id. at 488-89 , 610 A.2d at 779. W hen the Sta te challenged the timeliness of the claim , we held th at the 180-d ay period in w hich to file a claim as a condition precedent under the Maryland Tort Claims Act began to run on th e date of the son s birth because that was when his injury occurred. Id. at 492-93, 610 A.2d at 78081. We fou nd no gro unds for e xempting even a ne wborn c hild from the c laim require ments 38 of the M aryland T ort Claim s Act. Id. at 493, 610 A.2d at 781. We discern no meaningful difference between the circumstances of Lopez and those of the case sub judice so as to differentiate between the application of the notice requirement of the Maryland Tort Claims Act to minors and that of the LGTCA to minors and Luis in particular. Therefore, we conclude that minority does not constitute good cause per se under the LGTCA. Our determination is consistent with that of our sister jurisdictions which also have declined to accept a per se rule that min ority excuses compliance with a statutory condition precedent requirin g notice to a gov ernme ntal def endan t. See, e.g., Rabanar v. City of Yonkers, 736 N.Y.S.2d 93, 100 (A.D. 2 Dept. 2002) (concluding that infancy of an injured plaintiff, standing alone, does not compel the granting of an application for leave to serve a late notice of claim, but rather the plaintiff must show a nexus between the delay and the infancy); Matarrese v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., 633 N.Y.S.2d 837, 837 (A.D. 2 Dept. 1995) (holding that the trial cou rt improvide ntly exercised its d iscretion in granting father s application for leave to serve late notice of claim against city hospital corporation eight years after alleged negligent treatment of his son at time o f his birth as it was manifestly unrelated to son s minority); Perez By and Through Yon v. Bay Area Hosp., 846 P.2d 405, 409 (Or. 1993) (stating that the 270-day notice period in regard to claim by minor child against public body is not tolled pending appointm ent of guardian ad litem ); McNicholas v. Bickford, 612 A.2d 866, 869 (Me. 1992) (concluding minority, by itself, does not constitute go od cause for failure to file claim for injury by gov ernmenta l employee w ithin 39 180-day period); George v. Town of Saugus, 474 N.E.2d 169, 171-72 (Mass. 1985) (finding that the statute which tolls statute of limitations for minors does not apply to presentment requirement of Tort Claims Act and thus the presentment requirement must be met regardless of age of claim ant); City of Birmingham v. Weston, 172 So. 643, 645 (Ala. 1937) (stating that statutes requiring claims against municipality to be filed or presented within certain time are generally held not to be statu tes of limitation so as to exc use mino r from pre ening claim within prescribed time); Davidson v. City of Muskegon, 69 N.W. 670, 670-71 (Mich. 1897) (holding that because there was no provision excepting infants from the limitation, the require ment a pplied to infants and ad ults alike ). The fact that the trial c ourt, in its discretion, was not persuaded that Ms. Rios s limited English proficiency or immigrant status constituted good cause does not rise to the level of an abuse of discretion as it was not a determination that was exceptional, extraordinary, or egregious especially under the circumstance s where Spanish-speaking nurses and translated forms were available. Therefore, we are not persuaded that Petitioner s immigrant status or limited English p roficiency con stitute good cause per se and find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in considering it with the totality of the facts in this case. Although minority does not constitute good cause per se, our inquiry does not end here, because Petitioner also asks us to review whether the trial judge abused his discretion in failing to find good cause based upon an evaluation of the circumstances surrounding the failure to provide notice. The Circuit Court considered Luis s minority, the ten-year delay 40 in filing the claim, Ms. Rios s limited knowledge of English, available means to investigate, the lack of any form of investigation during the ten years after Luis s injury, and the fact that the County did not impede or hamper any possibility of investigation or conceal material facts. From all of those facto rs, the court c oncluded that good cause did not exist. We do not find that suc h a determ ination is beyond the view that a reasonable person would take of the facts of the case sub judice. As suc h, we conclude that the trial court did n ot abuse its discretion in determining that good cause did not exist for waiving the notice requirement under the LGTCA. IV. Conclusion We conclude that the notice requirement under Section 5-304 of the LGTCA, Md. Code (1974, 2002 Repl. Vol., 2004 Cum. Supp.), § 5-304 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, is valid as applied to minors under the Federa l Constitution and Article 19 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights where the underlying local governmental action was governmental, not proprietary in nature. Moreover, we do not find that the trial court s determination that the facts of this case did not show good cause un der Section 5-304 (c), was an abuse of discretion. Thus, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals. JUDGMENT AFF IRM ED. COSTS IN THIS COURT AND THE COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS TO BE PAID BY THE PETITIONER. 41