New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

THOMAS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-015-188, Claim No. 99951, Motion No. M-63676


Synopsis


Unopposed motion to dismiss claim against State for alleged sexual abuse of infant in State registered day care facility granted where State appeared to have followed all laws, rules and regulations regarding registration of family home care facility.

Case Information

UID:
2001-015-188
Claimant(s):
QUAYLAND THOMAS, QUINYAN THOMAS, and RAHLA THOMAS, Infants, by their Parent and Natural Guardian GEORGIANNA THOMAS, and GEORGIANNA THOMAS, Individually
Claimant short name:
THOMAS
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
99951
Motion number(s):
M-63676
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney:
O'Connell and AronowitzBy: Thomas E. Dolin, Jr., Esquire
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Glenn C. King, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 1, 2001
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR 3212 seeking an order dismissing the instant claim on the grounds that the defendant followed all established statutes, rules, regulations and procedures relative to the registration of Elaine Phillips as a registered family daycare home provider and that the State had no prior notice of any allegations of sexual abuse in relation to the daycare afforded by such registered provider is granted. Georgianna Thomas, individually and as parent and natural guardian of the named infant claimants, chose not to oppose the motion[1]. The claim seeks monetary damages for the alleged sexual abuse and maltreatment of three infant claimants allegedly perpetrated by the adolescent son of a State registered family daycare home provider and contains a derivative claim for loss of services by the infants' parent and natural guardian, Georgianna Thomas. Claimants allege that the defendant had prior knowledge and/or notice of the alleged perpetrator's conduct "by virtue of prior complaints and/or incidents." It is alleged that the sexual abuse and maltreatment upon which this claim is based occurred between late June 1997 and August 6, 1997 while the infant claimants were in the care and custody of the registered daycare provider.

The defendant's motion seeking dismissal of the claim as a matter of law is supported by copies of the pleadings, transcripts of examinations before trial of the following individuals: Mabel Leon (Regional Manager of Bureau of Early Childhood Services of the New York State Office of Child and Family Services [OCFS]); Sharon Morris (employee of OCFS and former daycare licensor for the New York State Department of Social Services[2]); Michael Quinn (Manager of the Child Abuse and Maltreatment Register [OCFS]); claimants Georgianna Thomas, Rahla Thomas, Quinyan Thomas and Quayland Thomas; a copy of this Court's decision and order dated June 12, 2001 filed June 14, 2001 and the affirmation of defendant's counsel (Glenn C. King) dated June 25, 2001.

As tragic as the event giving rise to this claim appears to be, liability for the alleged unlawful sexual abuse of an infant[3] by a minor child of a registered family daycare home provider (Elaine Phillips) cannot be predicated against the State which is not an insurer of the safety of infants in daycare settings absent proof of the existence of a special relationship between the alleged infant claimants and the State (see, Boland v State of New York, 161 Misc 2d 1019, affirmed, 218 AD2d 235). Here, unlike in Boland, supra, no proof has been offered that the State breached a duty to the alleged victim(s) imposed upon it by law, rule or regulation and that such breach was a proximate cause of the claimants' injuries.

On this motion the State presented evidence which establishes prima facie that the Department of Social Services followed all applicable statutes, rules and regulations with regard to the registration of the family daycare home provider and that the State properly investigated the only formal complaint received by the department concerning the subject provider prior to the incident giving rise to this claim. That complaint related to the possibility of drug activity at the daycare home's location. After investigation the complaint was determined to be unfounded. The proof also demonstrates that no further complaints subject to investigation by the department were made and that a hotline call upon which the claimants had hoped to rely to show the State's prior notice of a dangerous condition giving rise to liability did not require the State to investigate or to take action other than to refer the information to local law enforcement officials which the State did[4].

The evidence offered, which stands unrefuted on the motion, is sufficient to support the State's request for summary judgment dismissing the claim on the grounds asserted. The claim is, accordingly, dismissed.


October 1, 2001
Saratoga Springs, New York

HON. FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Judge of the Court of Claims


The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of Motion dated June 25, 2001;
  2. Affirmation of Glenn C. King dated June 25, 2001 with exhibits;
  3. Letter from Thomas E. Dolin, Jr. dated July 19, 2001.

[1]See letter of attorney Thomas E. Dolin, Jr., dated July 19, 2001 (attached).
[2]Now known as The Office of Children and Family Services.
[3]Although the claim had alleged that all three infant claimants had been sexually abused, Quayland and Quinyan denied that any abuse whatsoever was perpetrated against them at their respective examinations before trial (see, Exhibits 10 and 11).
[4]This information was the subject of a prior motion which resulted in a decision and order of this Court dated October 30, 2000 and filed November 1, 2000.