New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PAUL v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-029-040, Claim No. 95409


Synopsis


Alleged improper maintenance of lake at State park. Court finds that claimant failed to established existence of duty, breach of duty, or injury to claimant as a result of alleged breach. Failure to prove prima facie case.

Case Information

UID:
2000-029-040
Claimant(s):
FERNAND PAUL, CLAIRE BONJEAN PAUL, VARNEL PAUL, an infant by his Father and Natural Guardian, FERNAND PAUL, CHRISTIENA PAUL, an infant by her Father and Natural Guardian, FERNAND PAUL, PHILIP PAUL, an infant by his Father and Natural Guardian, FERNAND PAUL, CHRISTOPHER PAUL, an infant by his Father and Natural Guardian, FERNAND PAUL and LINDA PAUL, an infant by her Father and Natural Guardian, FERNAND PAUL
Claimant short name:
PAUL
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
95409
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
STEPHEN J. MIGNANO
Claimant's attorney:
Robert G. Spevack, Esq.By: Kathleen M. Dillon, Esq., Trial Counsel
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer
Attorney General of the State of New YorkBy: John Healey, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 18, 2000
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

This claim alleges,
inter alia, that the claimants contracted Shigella Virus as a result of swimming in a State owned lake. At the close of the claimants' case, the defendant, State of New York, moved for dismissal for failure to establish a prima facie case. This motion, upon which decision was reserved at trial, will now be addressed.
The testimony adduced at trial on the claimants' case was that seven members of the Paul family attended an outing at Sebago Beach in the Palisades Interstate Park. It was stipulated at trial that Palisades Park and Sebago Beach are State owned and operated facilities.

It was also established at trial that in the period following claimants' visit to Sebago Beach several of the claimants became ill and exhibited certain common physical symptoms. This is the sum total of the facts established at trial.

The Court need not deal with the severity of the various claimants' illnesses nor with the issue of what organism or microorganism caused such symptoms and illnesses since claimants failed to prove causation, an essential element of the claim. To establish a cause of action for negligence, claimant must establish: (1) the existence of a duty on defendant's part as to claimant; (2) a breach of the duty; and (3) injury to claimant as a result thereof (
Akins v Glens Falls City School District, 53 NY2d 325, 333). The breach of duty must be the proximate cause of the injury (Nieves v Holmes Protection, Inc., 56 NY2d 914).
In the instant matter, the evidence adduced at trial at the close of the claimants' case contained not a scintilla of evidence linking the unfortunate illness contracted by members of the Paul family to any State negligence or any State facility. As a result, defendant is entitled to dismissal as a matter of law, the motion to dismiss, is granted and the claim is dismissed.

In light of the Court's decision, the State's motion requesting the Court to draw an adverse inference as a result of claimants' failure to call an expert witness is moot.

The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.


December 18, 2000
White Plains, New York

HON. STEPHEN J. MIGNANO
Judge of the Court of Claims