New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SHEEHY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-031-067, Claim No. 104957, Motion No. M-65804


Synopsis


Claim fails to state a cause of action against the State. Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

Case Information

UID:
2002-031-067
Claimant(s):
ROBERT J. and SANDRA SHEEHY
Claimant short name:
SHEEHY
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
104957
Motion number(s):
M-65804
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Claimant's attorney:
ROBERT J. and SANDRA SHEEHY, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
New York State Attorney General
BY: WILLIAM D. LONERGAN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 13, 2002
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers, numbered 1 to 5, were read on motion by Defendant for summary judgment:
1. Notice of Motion, dated September 16, 2002;
2. Affidavit of William D. Lonergan, Esq., sworn to September 16, 2002;
3. Joint Affidavit of Robert J. and Sandra Sheehy, sworn to October 22, 2002, with attached exhibits;
4. Reply Affidavit of William D. Lonergan, Esq., sworn to October 25, 2002;
5. Filed Papers: Claim and Answer.

Upon the foregoing papers, the motion is granted. Claimants, Robert J. and Sandra Sheehy, commenced this action against the State of New York, the Allegany County Department of Health, and the Allegany County District Attorney's Office for various matters relating to the use and enjoyment of the Claimants' farm, located in Wellsville, New York. While the claim is somewhat less than concise and the precise nature of the claims asserted are unclear, it appears that Claimants believe that Defendants have conspired to allow trespassers to cross Claimants' land and have engaged in a course of harassment related to citations Claimants received from the Allegany County Department of Health for violations relating to the sewage system on their property.

Significantly, though Claimants have alleged specific actions on the part of the Allegany District Attorney's Office and the Allegany County Department of Health, Claimants have not complained of actions on the part of the State or any State agency. Claimants do imply, however, that the State Police were instructed by the Allegany County District Attorney's Office not to arrest trespassers on Claimants' property. Claimants do not provide specifics relating to such trespasses, and in fact, have not even alleged that such trespasses occurred.

Defendant brings this motion for summary judgment, correctly pointing out that the proposed claim does not state a cause of action against the State of New York, and that it fails to allege any misfeasance on the part of a State employee or agent. Defendant asserts that this Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain a claim against the identified Allegany County entities.

The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction with power to hear claims only against the State and certain public authorities (Court of Claims Act § 9). This Court does not have jurisdiction over and may not entertain a claim against either the Allegany County Department of Health or the Allegany County District Attorney's Office (see Whitmore v State of New York, 55 AD2d 745, 746, lv denied 42 NY2d 810; Jones v State of New York, 69 Misc 2d 1034).

The implied failure of the State Police to arrest trespassers on Claimants' property does not support a cause of action against the State. Absent a special relationship, no cause of action arises from the failure of a policing agency to protect a citizen from a crime ( see Kircher v City of Jamestown, 74 NY2d 251; Cuffy v City of New York, 69 NY2d 255).

In the Cuffy case the Court of Appeals identified the criteria under a ‘special relationship' can be said to exist. These are:
(1) an assumption by the municipality, through promises or actions, of an affirmative duty to act on behalf of the party who was injured; (2) knowledge on the part of the municipality's agents that inaction could lead to harm; (3) some form of direct contact between the municipality's agents and the injured party; and (4) that party's justifiable reliance on the municipality's affirmative undertaking.

(69 NY2d 255, at 260).
No such special relationship has been alleged by Claimants, much less shown to exist.

Based upon the foregoing it is:

ORDERED, that Defendant's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the claim is granted. The Clerk is directed to close the file.

December 13, 2002
Rochester, New York

HON. RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Judge of the Court of Claims