New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BROWN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-001-080, Claim No. 73718, Motion No. M-64240


Synopsis


Claimant's motion, by order to show cause, to compel the State of New York and Allstate Life Insurance Company to accelerate payments from annuities which are part of a CPLR article 50-B structured judgment is denied

Case Information

UID:
2001-001-080
Claimant(s):
ALFRED E. BROWN, JR. and WANDA BROWN
Claimant short name:
BROWN
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
73718
Motion number(s):
M-64240
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
SUSAN PHILLIPS READ
Claimant's attorney:
Richard C. Bell, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer., NYS Attorney GeneralBy: Dennis M. Acton, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
November 16, 2001
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

.
Decision

The following papers were read and considered on claimants' motion, by order to show cause, to compel the State of New York and Allstate Life Insurance Company to accelerate payments from annuities which are part of a CPLR article 50-B structured judgment: Order to Show Cause, undated and filed October 31, 2001; Affirmation of Richard C. Bell, Esq., dated October 11 and filed October 31, 2001, with annexed Exhibits A-B; Affidavit of Alfred E. Brown, Jr., sworn to October 12 and filed October 31, 2001 [Exh. B]; Affidavit in Opposition to Order to Show Cause of Dennis M. Acton, Esq., AAG, sworn to November 6 and filed November 8, 2001.

Claimant Alfred E. Brown ("claimant") is the recipient of certain annuity payments from a structured judgment managed by Allstate Life Insurance Company ("Allstate"). The annuities were purchased by defendant State of New York ("defendant" or the "State") on account of claimant's future damages as a result of a personal injury judgment structured pursuant to CPLR article 50-B (see, Brown v State of New York, Ct Cl, unreported supplemental judgment dated May 6, 1992, Claim No. 73718 [Affirmation of Richard C. Bell, Esq., dated October 11 and filed October 31, 2001, with annexed Exhibits A-B ("Bell Aff."), Exh. A]; see also, Brown v State of New York, 184 AD2d 126, lv denied 81 NY2d 711). Claimant now moves for an order compelling the State and Allstate to accelerate a portion of the annuities to provide him with a lump sum of $85,000 (Order to Show Cause, undated and filed October 31, 2001; Bell Aff., ¶ 2).

Claimant explains that he is presently confined to Westchester County Jail on criminal charges, including at least one felony charge, and has pleaded not guilty (Bell Aff., ¶¶ 4-5, 10; Brown Aff., ¶¶ 2, 7). Claimant anticipates that his case will reach trial as early as December 2001 or January 2002 (Bell Aff., ¶ 14). Claimant urgently requests the Court to accelerate a portion of the structured judgment so that he may pay for a vigorous defense against the pending criminal charges by criminal defense counsel of his choosing (Bell Aff., ¶¶ 10-11, 19-20; Brown Aff., ¶¶ 7-11).

The State opposes the motion, arguing that claimant's moving papers do not satisfy the requirements of CPLR 5046 (Affidavit in Opposition to Order to Show Cause of Dennis M. Acton, Esq., AAG, sworn to November 6 and filed November 8, 2001 ["Acton Aff."], ¶ 3). Additionally, the State contends that it has no interest in the matter "having long ago paid in full satisfaction of the judgment . . . appropriate amounts to the annuity company Allstate Life Insurance of New York, which now provides [claimant] with his monthly payments. Consequently [the State concludes], since Allstate is not an entity of the State of New York, . . . this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction" (Acton Aff., ¶ 4).[1]

This application for partial acceleration of the annuities resulting from claimant's CPLR article 50-B structured judgment is governed by CPLR 5046, which states in pertinent part that:
[i]f, at any time after entry of judgment, a judgment creditor or successor in interest can establish that the continued payment of the judgment in periodic installments will impose a hardship, the court may, in its discretion, order that the remaining payments or a portion thereof shall be made to the judgment creditor in a lump sum. The court shall, before entering such an order, find that: (i) unanticipated and substantial medical, dental or other health needs have arisen that warrant the payment of the remaining payments, or a portion thereof, in a lump sum; (ii) ordering such a lump sum payment would not impose an unreasonable financial burden on the judgment debtor or debtors; (iii) ordering such a lump sum payment will accommodate the future medical, dental and other health needs of the judgment creditor; and (iv) ordering such a lump sum payment would further the interests of justice (CPLR 5046 [a]).[2]

The statute makes clear that in order for the Court to entertain such an application and order an acceleration of a structured judgment, it must as a threshold matter find that the proffered acceleration is in some way related to "unanticipated and substantial medical, dental or other health needs" (id.). Claimant's present circumstances do not fit within the parameters of CPLR 5046 and, consequently, there is no statutory authority for the Court to grant the requested relief. Accordingly, the Court denies the motion.


November 16, 2001
Albany, New York

HON. SUSAN PHILLIPS READ
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]Allstate did not respond to the motion.
[2]CPLR 5048 also severely limits a judgment creditor's ability to assign structured judgment payments, providing that an assignment or agreement to assign any right to periodic payments for future damages under CPLR article 50-B is unenforceable except in instances where the amounts are assigned for (1) payment of alimony or child support, (2) the costs of medical, dental or other health care, or (3) attorney's fees and litigation expenses incurred in securing the judgment.