New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HART v.STATE INSURANCE FUND, #2000-016-110, Claim No. None, Motion No. M-61931


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2000-016-110
Claimant(s):
HART HOTELS, INC.
Claimant short name:
HART
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
STATE INSURANCE FUND
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
None
Motion number(s):
M-61931
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
David C. Quinn, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Ellen S. Mendelson
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 3, 2001
City:
New York
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

By this motion, opposed by the defendant, Hart Hotels, Inc. seeks permission to file a late claim based upon the alleged improper classification of its employees in determining the premium for workers' compensation coverage.[1]

According to claimant, certain of its clerical personnel who were working separately from the "hands-on operation of Hart [Hotels'] business" were placed by the State Insurance Fund in the "more costly classification, i.e. hotel" (cl mot, affid, ¶¶2 & 3). The proposed claim comprehends $7,123 in overpaid premiums for 1993 and 1994.

In setting workers' compensation premiums, a company's employees must be assigned to one of the job classifications established by the New York State Compensation Insurance Rating Board, which reflect the overall general risk experience for a particular job. [2] Then, in determining the ultimate premium to be billed, the State Fund, like any insurer, takes into account factors from the individual company, such as its accident history and the existence and nature of safety programs.


Claimant references two provisions from its contract of insurance with the State Fund:

[T]hese classifications were assigned based on an estimate of exposures you would have during the policy period. If your actual exposures are not properly described by those classifications, we will assign proper classifications, rates and premium basis by endorsement to this policy.

The premium rates applied on your policy may be modified to be in excess of or less than the Rating Board rates. Modification of Rating Board rates will be determined by the State Insurance Fund based on an underwriting appraisal of your business operations as a risk.

[Proposed claim, ¶¶ 5 and 6]


***

Section 10.6 of the Court of Claims Act enumerates six factors to be weighed in determining whether to grant permission to file a late claim. But in any event, the underlying statute of limitations from article 2 of the CPLR must be satisfied; namely, six years for an action sounding in contract.

This matter turns on when the cause of action accrued. From one vantage, Hart's claim accrued in 1994. Defendant contends the claimant's cause of action accrued on May 17, 1994, the last date any payment was made by Hart Hotels for the policy period in question. Defendant indicates that the policy of compensation insurance was canceled June 24, 1994 (Def affirm, §12). Even using this later date, claimant's motion is still untimely - albeit by a few days, having been filed on June 26, 2000.

However, the defendant also acknowledges the alternative view of accrual: inasmuch as claimant's "Administrative remedies have ‘yet to be concluded', it is submitted that the instant action is premature at best"(¶ 10 of def affirm, quoting ¶6 of cl affid).

In sum, under these two theories of accrual, it is either too soon or too late for the granting of permission to file a late claim. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the motion of Hart Hotels, Inc. (M-61931) be denied.





January 3, 2001
New York, New York

HON. ALAN C. MARIN
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1] The papers reviewed were: Hart Hotels' Notice of Motion for Permission to File a Late Notice of Claim, which included the affidavit of David Quinn, Esq. together with a proposed claim; and the State Insurance Fund's Affirmation in Opposition with exhibits A though C appended thereto.
[2] The Rating Board is not a State entity, but a group of insurance companies authorized by §2319(c) of the Insurance Law to establish job classifications for the purposes of determining workers' compensation premiums.