New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PROWSE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-015-301, Claim No. 105911, Motion Nos. M-65649, CM-65945


Synopsis


Court of Claim lacks subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate claim based on claimant's dissatisfaction with Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board's determination. Remedy is appeal to the Appellate Division, Third Department.

Case Information

UID:
2002-015-301
Claimant(s):
HECTOR PROWSE The caption of the claim has been amended sua sponte to reflect the only properly named defendant.
Claimant short name:
PROWSE
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
The caption of the claim has been amended sua sponte to reflect the only properly named defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
105911
Motion number(s):
M-65649
Cross-motion number(s):
CM-65945
Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney:
Hector Prowse, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Steven Koton, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 25, 2002
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Defendant's pre-answer motion to dismiss the instant claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is granted. Claimant's cross-motion is denied as moot. The instant claim filed on April 15, 2002 seeks to recover $6,000.00 in damages arising out of the denial of unemployment insurance benefits. As alleged in the claim claimant was laid off from employment by Planned Management Construction on June 7, 2000 and applied for unemployment insurance benefits. His application was denied and he thereafter requested a hearing. As a result of the hearing claimant was penalized and no monies were paid to him. Thereafter claimant was employed by Cosentini Associates, was again laid off and applied for unemployment benefits and none were received. Still later claimant was employed by Keyspan Engineering until he was laid off on January 11, 2002. He applied for unemployment benefits by telephone and thereafter received reduced benefits.

Claimant alleges that he is frustrated with the administrative response issued pursuant to New York State Labor Law, article 18 and in a notice of motion dated May 25, 2002 asks the Court to award him money damages for the benefits which to date have been denied[1].

The defendant has moved to dismiss the claim on the ground that this Court is without jurisdiction to review and reverse the administrative determination which effected the claimant's benefits. The Court agrees.

It has long been established that the exclusive procedure for reviewing the issues claimant asserts in the claim is set forth in the Labor Law (see, Labor Law § 626) and administrative determinations made pursuant to such law are not subject to collateral attack in the Court of Claims (Saffioti v State of New York, 36 AD2d 666). It appears from the motion papers that the New York State Department of Labor issued an initial determination that claimant was not qualified to receive unemployment benefits effective June 10, 2000 because he voluntarily left his employment without good cause (Exhibit A). That determination further found that claimant had been overpaid $1,460.00 which was recoverable because claimant made a factually false statement and further declared that beginning June 10, 2000 claimant was ineligible for benefits until he subsequently worked no less than 3 days in each of 5 weeks and earned at least five times his weekly benefit rate (Exhibit A). On January 4, 2000 claimant requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) based upon that initial determination. The ALJ's decision and notice of decision dated January 31, 2001 (Exhibit B) provided in relevant part:
DECISION: The initial determinations, disqualifying the claimant from receiving benefits, effective June 10, 2000, on the basis that the claimant voluntarily separated from employment without good cause; charging the claimant with an overpayment of $1,460 in benefits recoverable pursuant to Labor Law Section 597 (4); and reducing the claimant's right to receive future benefits by eight effective days on the basis that the claimant made a wilful misrepresentation to obtain benefits, are sustained.

The claimant is disqualified from receiving benefits until the claimant has subsequently worked in employment and earned remuneration at least equal to five times the claimant's weekly benefit rate. Employment and earnings from non-covered excluded or self-employment will not count.

The claimant was overpaid $1,460 in benefits. The overpayment is recoverable. The claimant shall forfeit benefits for eight effective days.

The decision further provided notice to the recipient that if he had appeared before the Administrative Law Judge he could appeal the ALJ's decision within twenty days of the date the decision was mailed. Claimant apparently sought to appeal the decision to the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board but his appeal dated April 27, 2001 was dismissed as untimely pursuant to Labor Law § 621 (1) by decision of the Appeal Board mailed and filed July 25, 2001 (see Exhibit C). The decision further contained a notice that any appearing party could appeal questions of law involved in the Board's decision to the Appellate Division of Supreme Court, Third Department, by written notice to the Board within thirty days of the date of mailing of the decision. It does not appear that claimant filed or perfected such an appeal.

The defendant argues that claimant is seeking to circumvent the Labor Law's exclusive review procedures and that such action cannot be permitted. This Court agrees.

Labor Law § 626 entitled Exclusive procedure states:
The procedure herein provided for hearings before referees with respect to any determination, rule, or order of the commissioner, and for decisions thereon and for appeals therefrom, first to the appeal board and thereafter to the courts, shall be the sole and exclusive procedure notwithstanding any other provision of law.

Judicial review of the Appeal Board's decisions is governed by Labor Law § 624 which provides:
§ 624. Appeals to courts

Within thirty days after the mailing or personal delivery of notice of a decision by the appeal board, the commissioner or any other party affected thereby who appeared at the appeal before the board may appeal questions of law involved in such decision to the appellate division of the supreme court, third department. The board may also, in its discretion, certify to such court questions of law involved in its decisions. Such appeals and the questions so certified shall be heard in a summary manner and shall have precedence over all other civil cases in such court except cases arising under the workmen's compensation law[2]. The commissioner shall be represented in court by the attorney-general without additional compensation. An appeal may be taken from the decision of such court to the court of appeals in the same manner and subject to the same limitations, not inconsistent herewith, as is provided for in civil action. It shall not be necessary to file exception to the rulings of the appeal board. No bond shall be required to be filed upon an appeal to the appellate division or to the court of appeals, except as hereinafter provided. Upon final determination of an appeal, the appeal board shall enter an order in accordance with such determination.


The Appellate Division, Third Department in Vartanian v Research Found. of State Univ. of N. Y., 227 AD2d 744 observed that Labor Law § § 620 through 625 contain the exclusive procedures for challenging determinations rendered with respect to unemployment insurance claims, citing Institute for Research Mgt. v Roberts, 122 AD2d 465, 467 lv denied 69 NY2d 602. In that case the Court affirmed the dismissal of a complaint against the Commissioner of Labor due in part to plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies and his failure to comply with the appeal process established by Labor Law § 624.

In the instant case, claimant's dissatisfaction with the Appeal Board's dismissal of his claim was properly addressed through an appeal to the Appellate Division, Third Department and not the filing of a claim for money damages in this Court. It is obvious that the Court of Claims lacks subject matter jurisdiction to undertake a review of the administrative actions giving rise to the claim (see, Kitchner v State of New York, 82 Misc 2d 858; see also, People v Van Hoesen, 42 Misc 2d 246 [Supreme Court]; Kelley, Matter of, v O'Brien, 5 Misc 2d 182 [Supreme Court]).

Accordingly, the claim is dismissed and the cross-motion is denied as moot.


October 25, 2002
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 May 6, 2002;
  2. Affirmation of Steven Koton dated May 6, 2001 [sic] with exhibits;
  3. "NOTICE OF MOTION BY CLAIMANT TO DENY MOTION BY DEFENDANT" dated May 25, 2992 [sic];
  4. "Affirmation" of Hector Prowse dated May 25, 2002;
  5. "Affirmation" of Hector Prowse dated May 28, 2002 with exhibits.

[1]Claimant's notice of motion is accompanied by a document signed by him and dated May 25, 2002. The document which purports to be an affirmation is without legal effect since it is not notarized nor does claimant allege that he is a member of the class of persons authorized by CPLR 2106 to submit an affirmation in lieu of an affidavit.
[2]Now Workers' Compensation Law.