New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GILDERSLEEVE PARK v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-033-074, Claim No. 107793, Motion No. M-68330


Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Douglas A. Durnin, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, New York State Attorney GeneralBy: John M. Shields, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 30, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is a claim for property damage to a fence owned by Gildersleeve Park for Mobile Homes, Inc. (hereinafter "claimant"). The damage was caused by the alleged action of an employee of the defendant. The claim alleges that on March 2, 2003, a fence on claimant's property was damaged by a snowplow, owned and operated by the defendant.

Defendant moves to dismiss the claim[1] pursuant to: claimant's failure to plead an adequate description as required by Court of Claims Act §11; Vehicle and Traffic Law §1103(b), and lack of duty owed to claimant.

In opposition, claimant argues that he has not been allowed to conduct adequate discovery in order to properly answer this motion.

Conferences were held by the parties with the Court on October 9, 2003 and February 24, 2004. At that time, claimant was ordered to go to the NYS Department of Transportation (hereinafter "DOT") office in Hauppauge, New York, and conduct a document inspection. According to claimant, he received a letter from the records officer of DOT indicating that records could not be released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law because they were the subject of litigation (claimant's Exhibit A). In the subsequent months following this letter, claimant tried on several occasions to obtain the records through the Attorney General's office or by going to DOT. Prior to receiving the records, defendant filed the instant motion.

The requirements of the Court of Claims Act are jurisdictional in nature and must be strictly construed (Lurie v State of New York, 73 AD2d 1006, affd 52 NY2d 849). The purpose of these requirements is to give the State prompt notice of an occurrence and an opportunity to investigate the facts and prepare a defense. There must be sufficient detail to enable the State to investigate (Schwartzberg v State of New York, 121 Misc 2d 1095, affd 98 AD2d 902). Pursuant to the Court of Claims Act, a claim must include the time when and place where the claim arose, the nature of the claim, items of damage or injuries sustained as well as the total sum claimed. If the original document does not include all that is essential to constitute a claim, the document is jurisdictionally defective (Grande v State of New York, 160 Misc 2d 383) and the claim is subject to dismissal even if there is no prejudice to defendant (Byrne v State of New York, 104 AD2d 782 lv denied 64 NY2d 607).

In examining the description of the claim, the Court finds that claimant has met the requirements of the Court of Claims Act.

As to defendant's remaining arguments, the Court finds they are premature. To date, claimant has not been able to conduct document discovery or depositions of defendant's employees. Defendant does not admit that one of its snowplows caused the damage to claimant's property. Rather, defendant argues that if its snowplow did cause the damage, then there is no liability. The Court is unable to determine if the recklessness standard applies or not because no evidence, in admissible form, has been presented.

Based upon the foregoing, defendant's motion is denied.

September 30, 2004
Hauppauge, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]The following papers have been read and considered on defendant's motion to dismiss: Notice of Motion to Dismiss dated April 12, 2004 and filed April 16, 2004; Affirmation in Support of John M. Shields, Esq. with annexed Exhibit A dated April 12, 2004 and filed April 16, 2004; Affirmation in Opposition of Douglas A. Durnin, Esq. with annexed Exhibits A-F dated June 8, 2004 and filed June 9, 2004; Reply Affirmation of John M. Shields, Esq. dated June 23, 2004 and filed June 28, 2004.