New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RILEY v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-016-027, Claim No. 102903, Motion No. M-62851


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:
Sacks & Sacks, Esqs.By: Evan Sacks, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Susan J. Pogoda, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 11, 2001
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The defendant, by this motion, seeks to dismiss the claim arising from Calistus Riley's construction site fall from a ladder at 59 Maiden Lane in lower Manhattan on July 18, 2000.

Defendant's motion is two-pronged: i) the State of New York does not own, operate or maintain the area described in the claim, and ii) such area, "the second floor of premises under construction" (claim, ¶3), insufficiently pinpoints where Riley fell. As to the second prong, Section 11 of the Court of Claims Act provides that a "claim shall state the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, and the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained and the total sum claimed" (subd b). Such may well require a greater degree of specificity than naming the floor of an office building. But see Cannon v State of New York, 163 Misc 2d 623, 622 NYS2d 177 (Ct Cl 1994). A lack of specificity per §11 cannot be saved by simply amending the claim, inasmuch as subject matter jurisdiction has been thereby implicated. Byrne v State of New York, 104 AD2d 782, 480 NYS2d 225 (2d Dept 1984), lv denied 64 NY2d 607, 488 NYS2d 1023 (1985). On that note, claimant in his Affirmation in Opposition (¶3) for the first time states, "More specifically, plaintiff's accident occurred on the south side of the building."

This claim is based upon sections 200, 240.1 and 241 of the Labor Law. To find liability under §200, some level of supervisory control by a defendant must be found. Under §§240.1 and 241, a defendant who owns a construction site is subject to suit for a worker's injury irrespective of whether it controls or supervises the job site. Dispositive then here is the unchallenged affidavit of Robert J. Stapf, Chief of the Bureau of Land Management of the State Office of General Services (def affirm, exh C). His conclusion was that Riley's fall did not occur in an area owned, operated, maintained or controlled by the State. Stapf did concede that defendant was leasing three floors of 59 Maiden Lane, but explained that the second floor was not among them.

It should be noted the claim maintains that defendant had entered into a contract with Grisdale Ball to "perform general contracting and/or construction management services at the aforesaid premises" (¶4). But no copy of the contract was presented with the claim or with claimants' Affirmation of Opposition, and there is no way to determine how or if such contract could somehow trump Stapf's affidavit.

In view of the foregoing, having reviewed the parties submissions[1], IT IS ORDERED that defendant's motion M-62851 be granted, and claim no. 102903 is dismissed.

April 11, 2001
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] The papers reviewed were: the claimants' Affirmation in Opposition; the defendant's Notice of Motion and Affirmation in Support, containing exhibits A-C.