New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BROOKS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK , #2003-028-520, Claim No. 106230, Motion No. M-66017


Case Information

LINDA BROOKS 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: Michael W. Friedman, Esq.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 20, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers were read on Claimant's motion for a preliminary injunction:

1) Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit of Linda Brooks filed November 7, 2002 (Brooks Affidavit) with annexed Exhibits A-F;

2) Affirmation in Opposition of Assistant Attorney General Michael W. Friedman filed November 27, 2002 (Friedman Opposition); and

3) Affidavit in Opposition of Cheryl B. Fisher, Esq. filed November 27, 2002 (Fisher Opposition)

Filed Papers: Claim and Verified Answer

Claimant seeks damages for an alleged breach of contract by Defendant in the administration of its student loan program. Claimant alleges that notwithstanding payments she made on her student loan in accordance with instructions received from her lender, the Defendant has, over the years, persisted in its collection efforts. In December 1982, Defendant sent Claimant a "Final Notice to Delinquent Debtor" which stated the matter would be referred for collection if payment was not made. Claimant at that juncture hired an attorney in an effort to resolve the matter. In 2001, the Defendant abandoned an action to collect on the alleged debt it initiated in New York City Civil Court. Claimant alleges that in violation of the order of the Civil Court dismissing the action pursuant to CPLR 3404 (see Brooks Affidavit, Exhibit F) Defendant thereafter garnished her 2001 tax refund. Claimant further alleges that tax refunds were garnished in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Claimant brings the instant motion seeking to enjoin Defendant from garnishing her income tax refunds, earnings and from imposing interest on the amount claimed to be in default.

Defendant opposes the motion asserting the Court lacks authority to issue preliminary injunctive relief and that the tax offset is not a garnishment and is taken in furtherance of its loan program pursuant to statutory authority (Fisher Opposition ¶¶ 7 and 10).

Before the Court can entertain whether Claimant is entitled to a preliminary injunction, it must first determine whether it has the jurisdiction to award such relief.

"[T]his Court's jurisdiction is limited to awarding damages in tort or contract and not to review[ing] discretionary decisions of agencies . . . . That jurisdiction is vested in the Supreme Court " (Ouziel v State of New York, 174 Misc 2d 900, 906, quoting Bertoldi v State of New York, 164 Misc 2d 581, 587, affd 275 AD2d 227). Moreover, "a collateral review may not be sought under the guise of a claim for money damages " (Perez v State of New York, Ct Cl, unreported decision filed August 3, 1999, Read P.J., Motion No. M-59596, slip opn p 2, quoting Lubin v State of New York, 135 Misc 2d 419, 420, affd 135 AD2d 1155, lv denied 71 NY2d 802). The Court's equity powers are likewise limited to those granted by statute or incidental to a claim for a money judgment (see, Court of Claims Act §9; see also Psaty v Duryea, 306 NY 413, 417; Matter of Silverman v Comptroller of State of New York, 40 AD2d 225, 226; Montgomery v State of New York, 69 Misc 2d 127, 130, affd 43 AD2d 552; Amato v State of New York, 170 Misc 136, 137). In Psaty v Duryea, the Court of Appeals' discussion of such powers was notable for its refusal to agree that such powers were broad stating "and perhaps, to some extent, [the Court of Claims] may grant some sort of incidental equitable relief" (Psaty v Duryea, supra, at 417 ).

Claimant's application seeking a preliminary injunction, in view of the foregoing,

is denied as the Court does not have jurisdiction to provide the equitable relief sought (see also Sprachman v State of New York, Ct Cl, McNamara, J. UID #2000-011-520, Claim No. 100781, Motion No. M-61043). As such, the Court does not reach the merits of Claimant's application.

March 20, 2003
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims