New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MAXIM v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-009-042, Claim No. NONE, Motion No. M-63428


Claimant's application to serve and file a late claim was denied.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
BY: Martha E. Mulroy, Esq.,Of Counsel.
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General
BY: Roger B. Williams, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 19, 2001

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant seeks permission to serve and file a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act, § 10(6).

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:
Notice of Motion, Affidavit in Support, Proposed "Claim" 1,2,3

Affirmation in Opposition, with Exhibit 4

Memorandum of Law (In Opposition) 5

As set forth in the proposed claim submitted with this application, claimant seeks to recover damages allegedly suffered by him when he was denied re-admission to the State University of New York College at Cortland ("SUNY-Cortland") in January, 2000.

As alleged in the proposed claim, in February, 1995, claimant applied for admission to SUNY-Cortland, and was accepted as a transferred student in March, 1995, for the fall, 1995 semester. Claimant subsequently petitioned the college and received permission to delay his entry until the spring, 1996 semester, when he finally entered the college as a transfer student. According to the allegations of the claim, at a later date, claimant was dissatisfied by a grade he received for a course taken in the spring, 1999 semester, and during discussions with various college officials, it became known that claimant had previously been convicted of a felony in New York State. Claimant was apparently advised that he could not register for classes until he received clearance from the admissions office, which he did not receive and was therefore suspended. He then applied for re-admission to the college in October, 1999, and was denied re-admission by letter dated January 25, 2000. Claimant apparently requested a review of this decision and in May, 2000, was again denied re-admission to SUNY-Cortland by the Parolee Admissions Committee. Claimant now seeks to file a claim seeking damages for "embarrassment, humiliation and mental anguish" on the basis that he was "denied the opportunity to receive an advanced degree from Cortland College". Claimant contends that the decision denying his re-admission to the college was "arbitrary, capricious and without merit and through no deceit or wrongdoing on the part of the Claimant".

In order to determine an application for permission to serve and file a late claim, the Court must consider, among other relevant factors, the six factors set forth in § 10(6) of the Court of Claims Act. The factors set forth therein are: (1) whether the delay in filing the claim was excusable; (2) whether the State had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim; (3) whether the State had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances underlying the claim; (4) whether the claim appears meritorious; (5) whether substantial prejudice resulted from the failure to timely file and the failure to serve upon the Attorney General a timely claim or notice of intention to file a claim; and (6) whether any other remedy is available. The Court is afforded considerable discretion in determining whether to permit the late filing of a claim (see, Matter of Gavigan v State of New York, 176 AD2d 1117).

Claimant's only excuse as to why this claim was not timely served or filed is based upon claimant's lack of knowledge of the law in that he never consulted with an attorney since he did not believe that any possible remedies were available to him. Ignorance of the law, in this case the service and filing requirements of the Court of Claims Act, however, is not a reasonable or acceptable excuse (Modern Transfer Co. v State of New York, 37 AD2d 756). Claimant has therefore not established a legally sufficient excuse for failure to properly and timely serve his claim. The factors of notice, opportunity to investigate, and substantial prejudice will be considered together. As set forth in the papers submitted with this motion, there is no indication that the State had any notice or opportunity to investigate this claim prior to the service of these motion papers. There is no indication that claimant had given any indication of potential litigation to any school official, nor was there anything in the nature of this incident that would have alerted any school or State official of a potential claim. The mere fact that the State had the opportunity to access the school records documenting the decision not to readmit claimant does not warrant a finding that it had notice. Given the passage of time involved herein, it appears to the Court that the State would be prejudiced if claimant was allowed to serve and file his claim at this time.

In order to establish a meritorious cause of action, claimant has the burden to show that the proposed claim is not patently groundless, frivolous, or legally defective, and that there is reasonable cause to believe that a valid claim exists (Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway Authority, 92 Misc 2d 1). Whether the proposed claim appears meritorious has often been characterized as the most decisive component in deciding whether to allow a claim to be served and filed under § 10(6), since it would be futile to permit a meritless claim to proceed (Prusack v State of New York, 117 AD2d 729). In this case, claimant contends that the decision of SUNY-Cortland in denying his application for re-admission was arbitrary, capricious and without merit. These standards, although applicable in Article 78 proceedings in Supreme Court, do not apply in the Court of Claims. This Court except in extremely limited circumstances not applicable herein, does not posses equitable jurisdiction (Court of Claims Act, § 9). This claim, although not expressly requesting the Court to overturn the school's decision and readmit claimant, instead seeks money damages for its refusal to readmit claimant. Such a claim, however, would of necessity require this Court to review the college's decision. However, the proper forum for a review of the college's decision is Supreme Court, pursuant to Article 78 (see, Matter of Gross v Perales, 72 NY2d 231). Having failed to avail himself of that opportunity, claimant cannot now turn to this Court and claim money damages.

In order to succeed with his claim in this Court, claimant must be able to prove that the college breached a legally cognizable duty to him, and in his moving papers and proposed claim, claimant has not even made any allegations that the denial of his request for re-admission was unlawful in any way.

Based on the above, claimant has not alleged a meritorious claim.

It does not appear that claimant has any other available remedy.

The Court may in its discretion place as much or as little weight on any of the six factors to be considered pursuant to the statute. Under the current law "[n]othing in the statute makes the presence or absence of any one factor determinative" (Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV v New York State Employees' Retirement System Policemen's & Firemen's Retirement System, 55 NY2d 979) and none of the factors can require denial as a matter of law.

Upon weighing and considering all of the factors set forth herein, and viewing all of the factors set forth in Court of Claims Act, Section 10(6), it is the opinion of this Court that claimant should not be allowed to file his proposed claim.

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-63428 is hereby DENIED.

September 19, 2001
Syracuse, New York
Judge of the Court of Claims