3,4 Filed Papers: Claim, Answer
No Opposition Filed
After carefully considering the papers submitted and the applicable law the
motion is disposed of as follows:
Anton Zic alleges in Claim Number 109486 that "the Department of Social
Services in White Plains, New York, failed to provide monthly payments of
$484.00 for June, July, August and September of 2003, without any written
notification of termination of contract . . . " [Claim No. 109486, ¶2]. He
has attached to his Claim a copy of a letter dated December 19, 2002 from the
Westchester County Department of Social Services advising him that direct
payments to him for rent for one of its cases would commence on January 1, 2003,
as well as the advice that if the payment did not represent the total cost of
rent, Mr. Zic would have to seek any balance due directly from the tenant.
[id.]. Mr. Zic alleges that the tenant moved out on October 1, 2003.
[id.]. Claimant seeks damages in the amount of $1,936.00.
The Claim was filed in the Office of the Chief Clerk of the Court of Claims on
June 16, 2004. There is no indication in the Claim that a Notice of Intention
was served on the Office of the Attorney General.
Defendant moves to dismiss the Claim on several grounds. First, the Defendant
asserts that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the named defendant because the
Westchester County Department of Social Services is not an agency of the State
of New York. Second, the Defendant asserts that the Claim should be dismissed
because it is untimely, since it was filed at least one (1) year after it
accrued, and no Notice of Intention was served upon the Attorney General to
extend the time within which to serve and file a Claim. Finally, the Defendant
asserts that the claim fails to state a legally cognizable claim against the
State of New York.
It is axiomatic that the Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction,
that may only exercise jurisdiction in cases or controversies for money damages
in which the State is a party. Court of Claims Act §9. Here, the Claimant
has only named the Department of Social Services in White Plains as Defendant -
not an agency of the State of New York - but rather a department of Westchester
County, a distinct governmental unit. Westchester County may not be sued for
damages in the Court of Claims. The defense is preserved in Defendant's First
and Second Affirmative Defenses in its Verified Answer. On this ground alone,
the Claim is dismissed. Court of Claims Act §9; Civil Practice Law and
Additionally, Court of Claims Act §10(4) requires that any claim alleging
a breach of contract be served and filed within six (6) months of accrual,
unless a Notice of Intention was duly served extending the time within which to
serve and file such a claim to two (2) years from accrual. The Claim was
received by the Attorney General's Office on July 6, 2004, [See
Affirmation by Elyse J. Angelico, Assistant Attorney General, ¶3], and
filed in the Office of the Chief Clerk of the Court of Claims on June 16, 2004.
In this case, assuming an accrual date of June 1, 2003 as alleged in the Claim,
the Claim must also be dismissed because it was not served and filed within the
required time period. As noted by Defendant, even assuming a later date of
accrual, premised upon successive failures to pay up to and including September
1, 2003, the Claim was still not served and filed within the required time
period. Court of Claims Act §10(4).
Finally, the Claim also fails to state a legally cognizable claim against the
State of New York. Regardless of any liability on the part of Westchester County
Department of Social Services, there is no allegation that the State or any of
its agencies is a party to the alleged contract, nor is any specific wrongdoing
by the State's agents alleged. The only allegations concern acts by Westchester
County Department of Social Services. Accordingly, the Claim is also dismissed
for a failure to state a cause of action against the State of New York. Court
of Claims Act §11(b); Civil Practice Law and Rules §3211(a)(7).
Accordingly, Defendant's Motion Number M-70228 is granted in its entirety, and
Claim Number 109486 is in all respects dismissed.