New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BLAIS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-028-550, Claim No. 101463, Motion No. M-63215


Following a disciplinary arbitration, Claimant sought damages for her car being repossessed. Court held Claimant failed to allege any basis for denying qualified immunity to decision to suspend Claimant without pay. Court also held relief of reinstatement with back pay, ordered by arbitrator, was all the relief to which she was entitled and dismissed the Claim.

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:
Defendant's attorney:
BY: Kathleen M. Resnick, Esq. Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 8, 2001

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers were read on Defendant's motion to dismiss the Claim pursuant to CPLR Rule 3211(a)(2), (7) and (8):

  1. Notice of Motion and Affirmation of Assistant Attorney General Kathleen M. Resnick (Resnick Affirmation) filed March 8, 2001 with annexed Exhibits 1-2:

2) "Affirmation in Opposition" of Theresa Blais filed May 17, 2001.[1]

Filed Papers: Claim, Verified Answer.

At a conference held on the record on April 11, 2001, the Court permitted the Defendant to withdraw its motion to strike the note of issue and certificate of readiness (M-63288) following Claimant's representation that certain depositions were no longer required. The Court then adjourned the return date of the Defendant's motion to dismiss (M-63215) and directed Claimant to file opposition papers on or before May 31, 2001.

The Claimant is an employee of the State of New York. On May 19, 1999, Claimant was placed on administrative leave for an act of misconduct allegedly committed while at work. An interrogation was held on May 24, 1999. On May 25, 1999, Claimant was suspended without pay. Claimant "won" the subsequent hearing and was reinstated, with back pay, effective August 17, 1999.[2] On September 9, 1999, Claimant's car was repossessed. Claimant alleges her credit was ruined as a result of being "unjustly" placed on leave without pay status.

The defendant asserts three grounds as the basis for its motion, i.e., the claim is untimely, the claim fails to state a claim against the State and the State's actions are privileged, (Resnick Affirmation, ¶¶ ). Initially, the Court notes Defendant has set forth the affirmative defense of untimeliness and improper service with sufficient particularity to satisfy the requirement of section 11(c) of the Court of Claims Act, as it provides "adequate and clear notice to any reasonable person that a defect is claimed to exist and that it may at some point be used as the basis of a motion to dismiss" (Sinacore v State of New York, 176 Misc 2d 1, 6; see also Fowles v State of New York, 152 Misc 2d 837) and the affirmative defenses also provide reference both to the relevant statute and to the requirement that should have been met (see, Smith v State of New York, Claim No. 85799, Motion No. M-48029, filed July 20, 1993, Benza, J.).

Contrary to Defendant's assertion, the Claim did not accrue on May 19, 1999. As of that date, Claimant still enjoyed all the emoluments of her employment, albeit while on administrative leave. The earliest this claim could have accrued was May 25, 1999, that being the date Claimant was suspended without pay. However, in the Court's view, the Claim accrued on August 13, 1999 when, Claimant had exhausted her administrative process and was somehow vindicated. In this regard, the Court views the accrual date as being analogous to a claim of malicious prosecution, which accrues on the date the criminal proceeding terminates favorably for the accused (see, CCA 10 [3-b]). Accordingly, service on the Attorney General on November 9, 1999 was timely when measured from August 13, 1999.[3]

The facts of the claim as set forth above, the truth of which the Court assumes and draws all inferences from such facts in favor of the non-moving party (Bassile v Covenant House, 152 Misc 2d 88, affd 191 AD2d 188, lv to app denied 82 NY2d 656), are essentially undisputed. Viewing the instant claim in the manner required, the Court concludes that claimant has failed to state a viable cause of action and further concludes that the Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the claim.

It is indisputable that "when official action involves the exercise of discretion or expert judgment ... and is not exclusively ministerial", the State "generally is not answerable in damages for the injurious consequences of that action" (Haddock v City of New York, 75 NY2d 478, 484; see, Mon v City of New York, 78 NY2d 309, 313; Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 217). Absolute immunity extends to all "neutrally positioned government officials, regardless of title, who are delegated judicial or quasi-judicial functions" (Tarter v State of New

, 68 NY2d 511, 518). The Court does not need to reach the question of whether the action of Defendant's employees involved in the employee disciplinary process enjoy an absolute or qualified immunity to resolve the motion. Claimant's bald statement that the suspension was "unjust", even under an expansive reading of the claim, fails to implicate any basis that the decision was an unreasoned judgment, to which immunity may not attach (see, Tango v Tulevech, 61 NY2d 34, 41; Davis v State of New York, 257 AD2d 112, 115; compare, Howe v Village of Trumansburg, 199 AD2d 749, lv. denied 83 NY2d 753).[4]

Furthermore, by virtue of her reinstatement and back pay, Claimant has received all the relief to which she is entitled (see, Van Buskirk v Bleiler, 46 AD2d 707, 708; see also, Harvey v State of New York, 281 AD2d 846 [limiting damages to individual removed from a preferred list]).

For the reasons set forth above, the Defendant's motion to dismiss the Claim is granted.

August 8, 2001
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] Claimant's opposition consists of a one page letter which does not address the issues on the motion other than to argue it would be "unfair for the Court to dismiss my ProSe [sic]."
[2] The Court on this record can not discern whether claimant was acquitted of the charges, found guilty but received a lesser penalty or was acquitted with the suspension having been proper.
[3] The Court notes that the Claimant did not file her claim within ninety days as required by the Court of Claims Act; however, that infirmity was not preserved.
[4] To the extent the Claim could liberally be read as alleging a negligent investigation resulting in suspension, such a cause of action is not recognized in New York (see, Weitz v State of New York, 182 Misc.2d 320).