New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GOMEZ ELECTRICAL v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK and THE STATE UNIVERSITY CONSTRUCTION FUND, #2004-015-416, Claim No. 109112, Motion No. M-68447


Synopsis


Contract at issue in the action was entered into with State University Construction Fund. Jurisdiction over all actions brought by or against or involving SUCF is vested exclusively in Supreme Court per Education Law § 3730a. Claim is therefore dismissed.

Case Information

UID:
2004-015-416
Claimant(s):
GOMEZ ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS, INC. Although the caption was amended by order of the Court to delete the State University Construction Fund as a named defendant, defendant's motion named both defendants and that caption is used for clarity in addressing the motion.
Claimant short name:
GOMEZ ELECTRICAL
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK and THE STATE UNIVERSITY CONSTRUCTION FUND
Footnote (defendant name) :
Although the caption was amended by order of the Court to delete the State University Construction Fund as a named defendant, defendant's motion named both defendants and that caption is used for clarity in addressing the motion.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
109112
Motion number(s):
M-68447
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney:
Daniel A. Ehring, Esquire
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Cornelia Mogor, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 27, 2004
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim for lack of jurisdiction is granted. The claim filed on March 31, 2004 seeks damages for breach of a contract between the State University Construction Fund (SUCF) and the claimant for the installation of a replacement fire alarm system at the State University administration building in Albany, New York. It is alleged that the design engineering firm employed by the SUCF prepared the project's conceptual layout, specifications and schedules of equipment in such a way as to favor the use of products available only through a specific supplier. The claim asserts that the supplier was unable to provide shop drawings in a timely manner and that the drawings were rejected by the project design engineer as incomplete. The SUCF required claimant to commence and continue installation of the fire alarm system despite the absence of approved shop drawings allegedly causing claimant to sustain various additional costs.

The claim further alleges that claimant submitted 54 requests for change orders to correct errors or omissions in the design of the system, only 14 of which were approved after substantial delay. It is alleged that the claimant was injured in the amount of $100,989.00 "as a direct result of the approved change orders, design modifications and delays caused by the sole source provider dictated by SUCF and/or its agents".

The defendant has moved to dismiss the claim on the ground that the Court of Claims lacks jurisdiction to hear and decide issues related to contracts involving the State University Construction Fund arguing that pursuant to Education Law § 373-a matters involving the SUCF may only be heard in the Supreme Court. Claimant did not oppose the motion.

Education Law § 373-a provides:
The state supreme court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of any action, where the amount sought to be recovered, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds ten thousand dollars, brought by or against or involving the fund. The venue of any such action shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of the civil practice law and rules.
The language of the statute could not be more clear. The jurisdiction of Supreme Court is exclusive with regard to actions by, against or involving the State University Construction Fund where, as here, the amount sought to be recovered exceeds $10,000.00 (see Grace & Co. v State Univ. Constr. Fund, 44 NY2d 84, 87). As a result, the instant claim must be dismissed as jurisdiction over actions "involving" the SUCF, whether contractual or quasi-contractual, rests solely with the State Supreme Court and not the Court of Claims (see Douvartidis v State of New York, Ct Cl, September 27, 2002, [Claim No. 104450, Motion Nos. M-65212, CM-65506, UID #2002-030-537] Scuccimarra, J., unreported[1]).

The defendant's motion to dismiss the claim for lack of jurisdiction is granted and the claim is hereby dismissed.


July 27, 2004
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 10, 2004;
  2. Affidavit of William K. Barczak sworn to May 10, 2004 with exhibit;
  3. Affirmation of Cornelia Mogor dated May 10, 2004.

[1]Unreported decisions from the Court of Claims are available via the internet at