New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

106070 v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-028-063, Claim No. 106070, Motion No. M-65535


Defendant's motion to dismiss is granted as Claimant's remedy lies in a CPLR Article 78 proceeding.

Case Information

HASINA MUHAMMAD The caption of this action is amended sua sponte to reflect the State of New York as the only properly named defendant.
Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :
Footnote (defendant name) :
The caption of this action is amended sua sponte to reflect the State of New York as the only properly named defendant.
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:
November 4, 2002

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers were read on the Defendant's motion to dismiss the Claim:

1. Notice of Motion and Supporting Affirmation of Assistant Attorney General Kathleen M. Resnick, filed July 22, 2002 (Resnick Affirmation), with annexed Exhibits A-B;

2. Supporting Affidavit of Thomas Orsini filed July 22, 2002 (Orsini Affidavit); and

3. Opposition Papers: NONE.

Filed Papers: Claim, filed May 16, 2002; Answer, filed June 18, 2002.

The Claim alleges that on or about May 7, 2002, the State Education Department (SED) violated Claimant's, Hasina Muhammad (Claimant), civil rights and constitutional rights when SED denied a request by Claimant to change her name from Louise P. Ryan to Hasina Muhammad on a General Educational Development Diploma (GED) issued in 1976[1].

Defendant has moved to dismiss the Claim alleging the Claim fails to state a cause of action and that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over the named defendant. Defendant maintains that SED owed no duty to Claimant to change the name on the diploma (Resnick Affirmation, ¶ 7); that SED policy of denying all such requests is nondiscriminatory (Resnick Affirmation, ¶ 9; Orsini Affidavit) and the issuance of diplomas and administration of the GED test is a uniquely governmental function for which the State has not waived its immunity (Resnick Affirmation, ¶ 10). Claimant has failed to respond to the motion.

The jurisdiction of the Court of Claims is generally limited to awarding money damages in claims against the State and other entities specified by statute for appropriation of real or personal property, tort or breach of contract (see, Court of Claims Act §§ 9, 10, 11). Whether the Court of Claims has subject matter jurisdiction to entertain a particular claim depends upon "the actual issues presented," not on how a claimant characterizes the action in a claim or motion papers (Sidoti v State of New York, 115 AD2d 202, 203). Herein, Claimant asks the Court to review the application of SED's two year old policy of refusing to reissue diplomas following legal name changes and to award money damages.

This Court does not possess jurisdiction to review determinations of the State's administrative agencies (see, Harvard Fin. Servs. v State of New York, 266 AD2d 685; Bertoldi v State of New York, 164 Misc 2d 581, 587, affd 275 AD2d 227, lv denied 96 NY2d 706; Lublin v State of New York, 135 Misc 2d 419, affd 135 AD2d 1155, lv denied 71 NY2d 802). Furthermore, where, as here, the award of a money judgment would require the Court of Claims to review an administrative agency's determination, "then the primary relief sought is not money damages" (Ouziel v State of New York, 174 Misc 2d 900, 905) and the proper remedy lies in Supreme Court by way of a CPLR Article 78 proceeding with any incidental monetary relief available there (see, Matter of Gross v Perales, 72 NY2d 231; see also Safety Group No. 194 et al v State of New York, (2001 WL 939747 [Ct Cl, Sise, J.]; cf, Matter of New York State Osteopathic Soc., Inc. v Allen, 26 NY2d 20 [member organization initiated Article 78 to compel changes to license inscriptions]).

In addition, to the extent Claimant has asserted violations of the United States Constitution, this Court does not have jurisdiction over federal constitutional tort claims

(Zagarella v State of New York, 149 AD2d 503; Ferrick v State of New York, 198 AD2d 822), nor under the circumstances present would the Court imply a State Constitutional remedy (see, Remley v State of New York, 174 Misc 2d 523, 526; see also, Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d 78).

Based on the foregoing, since this Court is not the proper forum to adjudicate these issues

the Claim fails to state a cause of action and the Court grants defendant's motion and thereby dismisses this Claim. In light of this disposition, the Court need not and does not consider defendant's remaining arguments.

November 4, 2002
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] A copy of the GED appended to the Claim indicates it was issued "in the 1976 series" and bears no other date.