New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RUKAJ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-016-056, Claim No. 104193, Motion No. M-63570


Synopsis


Claim arising from Mosholu Parkway auto accident was dismissed on the ground that the accident site was the responsibility of the City of New York, not the State.

Case Information

UID:
2004-016-056
Claimant(s):
GJOKA RUKAJ AND IRENE RUKAJ
Claimant short name:
RUKAJ
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
104193
Motion number(s):
M-63570
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Robinson & Yablon, P.C.By: Lawrence T. Yablon, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Susan J. Pogoda, Esq., AAG and Nancy Hornstein, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 17, 2004
City:
New York
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The underlying claim in this case arises from an April 28, 2000 accident at the intersection of the Mosholu Parkway and Van Cortlandt Avenue in the Bronx, in which Gjoka Rukaj's car was struck by another car because of an alleged "malfunctioning traffic control device" at the intersection.

This is defendant's motion to dismiss the claim pursuant to CPLR 3211 on the ground that the City of New York, rather than the State, is responsible for the accident site. The parties were advised by the Court in a March 2, 2004 letter that the motion would be treated as one for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR 3211(c), and they were given the opportunity to make additional submissions on the motion. * * *

Article XII-B of the Highway Law (§§349-b through 349-f) was enacted in 1944 for the purpose of constructing and modernizing arterial highways in cities throughout the State, including the City of New York. Under such article, the State is empowered to spend State and Federal funds for the construction and reconstruction of such highways.

Highway Law §349-e designates those highways in cities other than the City of New York which are subject to article XII-B and §349-f lists highways in the City of New York.

Subdivision 3.4 of Highway Law §349-c provides that once State construction or reconstruction of an arterial highway in the City of New York is complete, "jurisdiction" is returned to the City, although the State retains responsibility for maintenance and repair. See subdivisions 7-9 of §349-c. However, in order for the State to have such maintenance and repair responsibility, two requisites are necessary: (1) the highway in question must have actually been "constructed, reconstructed or improved" by the State; and (2) the State commissioner of transportation must have issued an official order declaring such highway "to be a part of such system of highways for such purposes of maintenance and repair," and such order must have been filed with the State Department of Transportation, the Department of State and the office of the clerk or official who performs the related functions of the city in which such highway is located. See Highway Law §349-d.

It is undisputed that §349-f of the Highway Law lists "Mosholu parkway from Henry Hudson parkway to Bronx river parkway"as a New York city route governed by article XII-B, and that Mr. Rukaj's accident occurred on such portion of the Mosholu.

Defendant maintains that there is no nexus between the State and the site of Rukaj's accident because the State did not construct the Mosholu Parkway at the site of the accident, nor has it done any projects so as to bring it into the State arterial system. In that regard, the State has submitted the affidavit of Osama Khalil, Claims Engineer in the New York City Regional Office of the New York State Department of Transportation. Mr. Khalil states that he searched the records of the Department of Transportation, and his review showed two State construction projects on the Mosholu, but not at the site of Rukaj's accident: (1) The State had designed and constructed the portion of the Mosholu that runs from Gunhill Road to the Henry Hudson Parkway (which does not contain the location of this accident); and (2) the State had constructed a bicycle path next to the Mosholu. Khalil further states that the State does not own, operate, maintain or control the traffic lights at the intersection where the accident occurred. See the August 2, 2001 reply affidavit of Osama Khalil, attached to defendant's reply papers.

Claimants have submitted nothing to dispute Khalil's contention that the State did not construct or reconstruct the accident site or have any involvement with the traffic control device at issue.

Moreover, as set forth above, even if the State had done any such construction or reconstruction, in order for it to retain maintenance responsibility, an order would have to have been issued and filed pursuant to §349-d of the Highway Law, and claimants have failed to submit any such order.

Finally, claimants' assertion that there is joint responsibility of the City and State pursuant to Gregorio v City of New York, 246 AD2d 275, 677 NYS2d 199 (1st Dept 1998) is misplaced. In that case, it was argued that a barrier design on the Bronx River Parkway caused plaintiff's accident. The State was responsible because it had constructed the barrier in question. The First Department found the City jointly responsible, citing Nowlin v City of New York, 81 NY2d 81, 595 NYS2d 927 (1993), in which the Court of Appeals had held that article XII-B of the Highway Law did not relieve the City of its obligation to keep a highway within its jurisdiction safe. In contrast to Gregorio, where the State actually constructed the barrier at issue, in the instant case, there is no indication of any State involvement.

It is construction and reconstruction activity under article XII-B of the Highway Law which implicates responsibility. See, e.g., Nowlin, supra. See also Gibbs v State of New York, Ct Cl dated August 6, 1987 (motion no. M-36265, unreported, Rossetti, J.), pp. 6-7, in which it was stated that article XII-B "gave the State the right to make improvements in the named roadways, it did not transfer jurisdiction over them."

Accordingly, having reviewed the parties' submissions[1], IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-63570 be granted and claim no. 104193 be dismissed.


September 17, 2004
New York, New York

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




  1. [1]The following were reviewed: defendant's notice of motion with affirmation in support and exhibits A and B; claimant's affirmation in opposition; and defendant's reply affirmation with the reply affidavit of Osama Khalil, memorandum-opinion and order on Gibbs v State of New York, and exhibits A-D.