This is a motion of Baljinder Singh (hereinafter "movant") for permission to
file a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act
, relating to alleged negligence
due to labor law violations occurring on August 12, 2003 at the Ridge
Conservation Area and Maintenance Center, 484 Randall Road, Ridge, New
According to the movant's papers, he was working at the above location on
August 12, 2003, for L&B Construction, Inc. The above-named location is
owned by the State of New York (hereinafter "defendant"). The structure at this
location was being demolished. Movant was located in the basement of the
structure at the time of the accident. The proposed claim indicates that debris
was being hoisted out of the basement by use of a "Bobcat". A piece of the
Bobcat became dislodged and fell into the basement and struck movant. Movant
indicates he was then hospitalized until August 21, 2003 and thereafter remained
confined to his home for approximately the next three months.
Defendant opposes movant's application.
In order to determine whether to grant a timely made application for permission
to file a late claim, the Court must consider, among any other relevant factors,
the six statutory factors set forth in Court of Claims Act §10(6):
(1) whether the delay in filing the claim was excusable;
(2) whether the State had notice of the essential facts constituting the
(3) whether the State had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances
underlying the claim;
(4) whether the failure to file or serve a timely claim or serve a timely notice
of intention resulted in substantial prejudice to the State;
(5) whether movant has another available remedy; and
(6) whether the claim appears to be meritorious.
The Court in the exercise of its discretion balances these factors, and, as a
general rule, the presence or absence of any one factor is not dispositive
(Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV v New York State Employees' Retirement System
Policemen's and Firemen's Retirement System, 55 NY2d 979).
Movant attributes the delay in filing a claim to his hospitalization and
confinement to bed at home for approximately three months. While under certain
circumstances such hospitalization and confinement to bed may be a reasonable
excuse, the Court does not find so in this instance. Movant's assertion is
unsupported. Therefore, the Court finds that this factor does not weigh in
The second, third and fourth factors (notice of the essential facts
constituting the claim; an opportunity to investigate the circumstances
underlying the claim; and whether the delay resulted in substantial prejudice to
the State) are related. The Court will consider these factors together.
It appears that movant was injured while working on property owned by the
defendant. Directly after his accident an employee of the defendant met with
the movant at the hospital and interviewed him concerning the accident. The
Court finds that the defendant had notice of the essential facts as a result of
its investigation after the accident. Further, the Court finds that such a
claim will not result in substantial prejudice to the defendant.
At this point, movant seems to be unaware of any other parties which may be
held accountable for the incident. This lack of knowledge is the basis for
movant's application for pre-action discovery. Therefore, it appears that
movant does not have an alternative remedy.
While the presence or absence of any one of the six factors in not dispositive,
(see Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV v New York State Employees' Retirement
System Policemen's and Firemen's Retirement System, 55 NY2d 979), the most
critical factor always is the apparent merit of the proposed claim. The movant
need only establish that the proposed claim is not patently groundless,
frivolous or legally defective and there is reasonable cause to believe that a
valid cause of action exists (Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway
Auth., 92 Misc 2d 1). If a movant cannot meet this low threshold and the
claim is patently without merit it would be meaningless and futile for the Court
to grant the application even if all the other factors in Court of Claims Act
§10(6) weighed in favor of the movant's request.
The Court is satisfied that the claim appears to be meritorious. Movant was
working at a facility owned by the defendant when an accident occurred in which
he was injured. According to movant, he was engaged in an activity protected by
Labor Law §240(1) and also seems to make sufficient allegations pursuant to
Labor Law §241(6).
In conclusion, the majority of factors favor movant. Therefore, movant's
application to file a late claim is granted. Movant shall serve and file the
proposed claim within forty-five (45) days of the filing of this decision in
accordance with §§10, 11 and 11-a of the Court of Claims Act. The
Court denies movant's request for pre-action discovery pursuant to CPLR 3102(c).
The documents sought may be obtained from the State, prior to the start of the
action, through the Freedom of Information Law.