New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ODEHNAL v. STATE OF NEW YORK and NEW YORK STATE OLYMPIC REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, #2005-015-034, Claim No. 110602, Motion No. M-70037


Synopsis


Court denied defendant's motion to dismiss claim brought by injured patron of State operated ski resort who encountered metal pipe on ski run.

Case Information

UID:
2005-015-034
Claimant(s):
DOMINIKA ODEHNAL and MAREK ODEHNAL
1 1.The caption of this claim is hereby amended sua sponte.
Claimant short name:
ODEHNAL
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
STATE OF NEW YORK and NEW YORK STATE OLYMPIC REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
110602
Motion number(s):
M-70037
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant’s attorney:
The Gucciardo Law FirmBy: Thomas P. Ram, Esquire
Defendant’s attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Kathleen M. Arnold, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
August 23, 2005
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Defendants' motion to dismiss the claim pursuant to CPLR Rule 3211 for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a cause of action is denied. The claim filed March 8, 2005 seeks to recover $2,000,000 in damages for personal injuries sustained as a result of a skiing accident at Whiteface Mountain on March 7, 2004.

In this pre-answer motion the defendants seek dismissal on the grounds that the claim fails to allege how the claimant[2] was injured and the way in which the acts or omissions of State employees or agents caused or contributed to her injuries. In so moving the defendants cite the Court to an unreported decision rendered in Quigley v State of New York, Ct Cl, August 15, 2003 [Claim No. 107749; Motion No. M-66868, UID # 2003-015-344] Collins, J.

Claimants' attorney opposed the motion by affirmation generally contesting the defendants' allegations regarding lack of specificity. Claimants' counsel also asserts that the defendants received prompt and effective notice of the claim through several means, including notices of intention personally served upon the Attorney General on May 7, 2004 and the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority on May 18, 2004.

Although defense counsel indicated in paragraph "2" of her affirmation in support of the motion that the State was in part seeking dismissal pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (8), the ensuing paragraphs fail to demonstrate any basis for dismissal of the claim for lack of personal jurisdiction. The motion in that regard is, accordingly, denied.

Defense counsel asserts that the claim lacks the specificity required by Court of Claims Act § 11 (b) which in relevant part provides: "[T]he claim shall state the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, and the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained and the total sum claimed".

After reciting the time, place and trail location of claimant's accident the instant claim states the following in paragraph 4:
[t]he injury occurred when the State or the Olympic Regional Development Authority or their agents dangerously and improperly placed a metal pipe on or near the ski trail where it created a hazardous and dangerous trap/condition. The pipe was not adequately marked, padded or protected and it created an unreasonable and dangerous hazard for lawful skiers, including the claimant herein.

Unlike the grossly inadequate allegations of the original claim filed in Quigley (supra) the detailed allegations set forth in the instant claim do not "mislead, deceive or prejudice the rights of the State" (Grumet v State of New York, 256 AD2d 441, 442; Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d 767; see Harper v State of New York, 34 AD2d 865). It is clear from the claim that the claimant Dominika Odehnal was injured on March 7, 2004 while skiing at Whiteface Mountain Ski Area, a facility owned by the State of New York and operated by the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority, when she encountered an unmarked and unpadded metal pipe at or near the junction of Excelsior and Connector trails. The claim asserts that the metal pipe was negligently placed in that location by agents acting on behalf of the defendants. The claim also sets forth the nature of claimant's resulting injuries and damage.

With regard to the portion of the motion seeking dismissal for failure to state a cause of action, it is settled that the Court's role on such a motion is to examine the pleading to determine whether a cause of action exists rather than whether a cause of action has been stated (Quail Ridge Assocs. v Chemical Bank, 162 AD2d 917, 918; lv dismissed 76 NY2d 936). In doing so the Court should construe the pleading liberally, accept the facts alleged as true (Carp v Marcus, 112 AD2d 546) and accord the claimant the benefit of all favorable inferences which may be drawn from the pleading (see Campaign for Fiscal Equity v State of New York, 86 NY2d 307, 318).

Viewed in this light the Court finds the instant claim indeed states a cause of action for personal injuries occasioned by the alleged negligence of the defendants.

The Court finds that the claimants have adequately complied with the requirements of Court of Claims Act § 11(b). The defendants' motion to dismiss the claim on this basis is, therefore, denied.

Accordingly, the defendants' motion to dismiss the claim is in all respects denied.


August 23, 2005
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 April 11, 2005;
  2. Affirmation of Kathleen M. Arnold dated April 11, 2005 with exhibit;
  3. Affirmation of Thomas P. Ram dated May 24, 2005 with exhibits.

[2].References to the claimant herein refer to Dominika Odehnal.