New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SINGH v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-015-135, Claim No. 111719, Motion No. M-71460


Synopsis


Notice of intention met the pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act § 11 (b).

Case Information

UID:
2006-015-135
Claimant(s):
HARMANDEEP SINGH
Claimant short name:
SINGH
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
111719
Motion number(s):
M-71460
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant’s attorney:
Estrin & Benn, LLCBy: Erica Augliano, Esquire
Defendant’s attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Paul F. Cagino, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 13, 2006
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The defendant moves to dismiss the claim herein pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (2), (7) and (8) contending that the notice of intention to file a claim is insufficiently specific to meet the statutory criteria set forth in section 11 (b) of the Court of Claims Act. For the reasons which follow, the motion is denied. Claimant served a document denominated a "Notice of Claim" on March 11, 2005 in which he alleged that he was arrested as a result of the negligence of the Department of Motor Vehicles "in failing to properly acknowledge the Claimant's payment of a traffic summons which, unbeknownst to the Claimant, resulted in the suspension of the Claimant's license."[1] The "Notice of Claim" set forth that the arrest occurred on December 14, 2004 at 12:00 a.m. at the intersection of White Plains Road and McGraw Avenue, Bronx, New York, as well as the damages to which the claimant deemed himself entitled.

" 'Because suits against the State are allowed only by the State's waiver of sovereign immunity and in derogation of the common law, statutory requirements conditioning suit must be strictly construed' " (Long v State of New York, 7 NY3d 269, 276 quoting Lichtenstein v State of New York, 93 NY2d 911, 913 [other citations omitted]). In Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201, the Court of Appeals held at page 207 that section 11 (b) of the Court of Claims Act "places five specific substantive conditions upon the State's waiver of sovereign immunity by requiring the claim to specify (1) 'the nature of [the claim]'; (2) 'the time when' it arose; (3) the 'place where' it arose; (4) 'the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained;' and (5) 'the total sum claimed.' " A notice of intention to file a claim must comply with the same conditions except that the items of damage or injuries and the sum claimed need not be set forth.

As noted by the defendant, the "Notice of Claim" was improperly denominated and should be reviewed under the standards applicable to a notice of intention to file a claim. There is no dispute that the first two criteria above were met in that the notice sets forth the time when and the place where the claim arose. With respect to the requirement that the nature of the claim be set forth, "the notice of intention need not be exact but should provide an indication of the manner in which the claimant was injured and how the State was negligent" (Rodriguez v State of New York, 8 AD3d 647) (citations omitted). The statement must be "made with 'sufficient definiteness to enable the State to be able to investigate the claim promptly and to ascertain its liability under the circumstances. The statement must be specific enough so as not to mislead, deceive or prejudice the rights of the State. In short, substantial compliance with section 11 is what is required' " (Wharton v City University of New York, 287 AD2d 559, 560 quoting Grumet v State of New York, 256 AD2d 441, 442).

The "Notice of Claim", treated herein as a notice of intention to file a claim, alleges the following:
Manner of Accident: As a result of the negligence, recklessness and carelessness of the Respondents, through their servants, agents and/or employees, in owning, operating, maintaining and controlling the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the Claimant's driver's license was suspended and the Claimant was unlawfully arrested by the New York City Police Department on December 14, 2004. The Defendants, through their servants, agents and/or employees, were negligent in failing to maintain, operate and control the aforesaid Department of Motor Vehicles in a diligent manner; in failing to properly acknowledge the Claimant's payment of a traffic summons which, unbeknownst to the Claimant, resulted in the suspension of the Claimant's license; in failing to properly hire, train and supervise its servants, agents and/or employees which resulted in the Claimant's suspended license, unlawful arrest and inability to operate his motor vehicle to earn a living. The Respondents had notice and knowledge of the conditions complained of. Details to follow.

In the Court's view, the notice of intention served on March 11, 2005 set forth sufficient facts and allegations to enable the defendant to investigate the claim promptly and ascertain its liability under the circumstances.

The defendant's reliance on Grumet v State of New York (256 AD2d 441) is misplaced. In Grumet, supra, the claimant sought damages for injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident but failed to set forth the cause of his fall in the notice of intention. Here, in contrast, the notice of intention to file a claim set forth both the nature of the claim and the facts which form the basis of claimant's negligence cause of action.

The defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is denied.


November 13, 2006
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 March 20, 2006;
  2. Affirmation of Paul F. Cagino dated March 20, 2006;
  3. Affirmation of Erica Augliano dated July 5, 2006 with exhibits.

[1].A document denominated a "Verified Complaint" was filed on December 8, 2005 and served on June 21, 2006 during the pendency of this motion.