New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LOUIS v. CUNY MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE, #2002-016-001, Claim No. None, Motion No. M-63759


Synopsis


Motion for permission to file late claim apparently alleging improper reduction in financial aid was denied.

Case Information

UID:
2002-016-001
Claimant(s):
MAURICE P. LOUIS
Claimant short name:
LOUIS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
CUNY MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
None
Motion number(s):
M-63759
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Maurice P. Louis
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Susan J. Pogoda, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 8, 2002
City:
New York
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

This is the motion of Maurice P. Louis for permission to file a late claim pursuant to §10.6 of the Court of Claims Act (the "Act"). Mr. Louis does not attach a proposed claim to his papers, but he does attach a complaint that he had previously filed in Queens County Supreme Court. It will be assumed for the purposes of this motion that the Supreme Court complaint is his proposed claim. The basis of Louis' claim appears to be the denial of certain financial aid to him by defendant. In determining whether to grant this motion, six factors enumerated in the Act must be considered: whether (1) defendant had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim; (2) defendant had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances underlying the claim; (3) the defendant was substantially prejudiced; (4) the claimant has any other available remedy; (5) the delay was excusable and (6) the claim appears to be meritorious. The factors are not necessarily exhaustive, nor is the presence or absence of any particular factor controlling.[1]

The first, second and third factors – whether the state had notice of the essential facts, whether the state had an opportunity to investigate and whether the state would be prejudiced by the granting of this motion -- are not addressed in claimant's papers. While claimant did serve his Supreme Court complaint on the Medgar Evers College "Student Affairs Dept." on March 5, 2001, it contains conclusory allegations that do not put the state on notice of the essential facts underlying Louis' claim. For example, he asserts without any elaboration that his Pell awards were "unlawfully blocked." On the other hand, service of the complaint would presumably give the college the ability to investigate the situation. As to prejudice, in view of the specificity problems in the complaint, it is unclear whether defendant would affected.

With regard to an alternate remedy, it appears undisputed that claimant's sole venue lies in this Court. As to excuse, claimant initially filed his lawsuit in Queens County Supreme Court. Unfamiliarity with the law is not a valid excuse for the purposes of the Act. See, e.g., Matter of E.K. (Anonymous) v State of New York, 235 AD2d 540, 652 NYS2d 759 (2d Dept 1997), lv denied 89 NY2d 815, 659 NYS2d 856 (1997).

The final factor to be considered is merit. As an initial matter, it should be noted that the allegations in Louis' Supreme Court complaint are difficult to discern and likely do not comply with the specificity requirements of §11 of the Act. With regard to the financial aid provided to claimant, defendant has submitted the affidavit of Levy Williams, the comptroller of Medgar Evers, who explains as follows:
  1. With regard to PELL grants, Louis received them through and including the Spring 2000 semester, but during that semester, his award was reduced by $202.50 because he was a part-time student; and
  2. With regard to TAP:
a) abfor the Spring 1997 semester, Louis was not awarded a grant because he was enrolled for an insufficient number of credits;
b) abfor the Spring 1998 semester, he was de-certified because he had only completed 39 of the required 45 credits;
c) abfor the Spring 2000 semester, he was de-certified because he had already accumulated the maximum number of points allowable.

Claimant argues that his transcript alone will "establish the fallacy" of the comptroller's affidavit, but provides no details or explanation. In fact, there appears to be no discrepancy between the information in Williams' affidavit and that in claimant's transcript. For example, the transcript indicates that by the Spring 1998 semester, claimant had completed 39 credits. In sum, claimant does not satisfy the standard for merit set forth in Matter of Santana v NYS Thruway Authority, 92 Misc 2d 1, 11, 399 NYS2d 395, 402-03 (Ct Cl 1977): (i) the claim "must not be patently groundless, frivolous or legally defective" and (ii) upon consideration of the entire record, including the proposed claim and any exhibits or affidavits, "there is reasonable cause to believe that a valid cause of action exists."

For the foregoing reasons, having reviewed the partes' submissions[2], IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-63759 be denied.


January 8, 2002
New York, New York

HON. ALAN C. MARIN
Judge of the Court of Claims




  1. [1]See Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV, Inc. v New York State Employees' Retirement Sys. and Policemen's and Firemen's Retirement Sys., 55 NY2d 979, 449 NYS2d 185 (1982); Scarver v State of New York, 233 AD2d 858, 649 NYS2d 280 (4th Dept 1996).
  2. [2]The following were reviewed: claimant's notice of motion with affidavit in support and exhibits A-D; defendant's affirmation in opposition with exhibits A-C; and claimant's "Response to Defendant's Affirmation in Opposition."