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