ALEXIS D. COREN-HALL 
MASSACHUSETTS BAY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY.
Heard: December 13, 2016.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on May
case was heard by Peter M. Lauriat, J., on a motion
for summary judgment, and a motion for reconsideration was
considered by him.
Bratskeir (Jonathan P. Feltner also present) for the
E. Grady for the plaintiff.
Present: Milkey, Massing, & Sacks, JJ.
defendant, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA),
appeals from a Superior Court order denying its renewed
motion for summary judgment on plaintiff Alexis D.
Coren-Hall's tort claim under the Massachusetts Tort
Claims Act, G. L. c. 258. The MBTA's motion asserted that
Coren-Hall had failed to make presentment of her claim to the
MBTA's "executive officer, " as required by G.
L. c. 258, § 4. The judge denied the motion on the
ground that, although Coren-Hall had not made presentment to
the MBTA's executive officer, the executive officer
nevertheless had "actual notice" of the claim. We
conclude that the MBTA's motion should have been
alleged that on May 10, 2010, she was injured when a
negligently driven MBTA bus struck a vehicle that she was in
the process of entering. After she filed suit on May 16,
2012, the MBTA's answer asserted, as an affirmative
defense, that she had failed to make proper presentment of
her claim as required by G. L. c. 258, § 4. In July,
2015, the MBTA filed a renewed motion for summary judgment on
that basis.Under G. L. c. 258, § 4, a tort
claim against a public employer must be presented to its
"executive officer, " defined in G. L. c. 258,
§ 1, inserted by St. 1978, c. 512, § 15, as its
"nominal chief executive officer or board,
" within two years after the cause of
action arose. The MBTA's motion asserted that, although
Coren-Hall had timely mailed notice of her claim to the MBTA
"Claims Department, " she had never sent such
notice to the executive officer. The judge denied the
MBTA's motion, and this appeal followed.
parties' joint statement of material facts established as
undisputed that Coren-Hall's then-attorney had timely
sent notice of the claim and subsequent supporting materials
to the "MBTA Claims Department" in May of 2010 and
May of 2011; the 2011 letter included a request to "turn
this notice letter over to the proper authority for
handling." The joint statement further established that
Coren-Hall herself neither personally communicated with any
MBTA personnel (including its executive officer) within the
two-year period after the accident, nor knew what other
communications her attorney might have had with such MBTA
personnel in that period. The MBTA admitted that in the fall
of 2014, after the two-year presentment period had passed, it
had made settlement offers to Coren-Hall and the remaining
plaintiffs other than Pruitt, and that those plaintiffs, but
not Coren-Hall, had accepted the offers and settled their
cases. See note 1, supra.
judge, in denying the MBTA's summary judgment motion,
noted that Coren-Hall did "not dispute that she
presented her claim to the Claims Department, and not the
executive officer of the MBTA as required by the
statute." Nevertheless, the judge reasoned, "the
MBTA was only able to extend settlement offers upon
conducting an investigation of the plaintiffs' claims and
receiving approval from those officials with the authority to
negotiate a settlement, " and accordingly, it was
"apparent that the designated executive officer of the
MBTA had actual notice of Ms. Coren-Hall's claim."
The judge relied on the recognized "actual notice"
exception, under which "the presentment requirement will
be deemed fulfilled if the plaintiff can show that, despite
defective presentment, the designated executive officer had
actual notice of the written claim." Bellanti v.
Boston Pub. Health Commn., 70 Mass.App.Ct. 401, 407
(2007), citing Lopez v. Lynn Hous. Authy., 440 Mass.
1029, 1030 (2003). This was error.
actual notice exception is narrow." Bellanti,
supra at 407. "Under our precedents, notice to
the executive officer will not be inferred or imputed from
the fact that others with responsibility for investigation
and settlement of the dispute received the plaintiff's
presentment letter and were in contact with the
plaintiff." I_d. at 408, citing Garcia v. Essex
County Sheriff's ...