2. Answering affidavit of Leo T. Fabrizi, Esq. sworn to December 5, 2007, with
annexed Exhibits A-C.
Filed papers: Claim filed April 23, 2007.
This is an action for personal injuries arising out of an incident which
occurred on January 23, 2007 when the Claimant allegedly slipped and fell on a
stairway located outside the entrance to Building B on the North Campus of Erie
Community College (ECC). In lieu of answering the claim, Defendant moved to
dismiss the claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Community colleges, such as ECC, are organized pursuant to §§ 6301
(2) and (3) and 6302 of the Education Law of the State of New York. They are not
part of the State University of New York (SUNY) corporation, a corporation
created in the New York State Education Department (see
§ 352 ; Lombardi v State of New York
, Ct Cl, June 4, 2003,
Ruderman, J., claim no. 107575, motion no. M-66700, UID #
and are not State agencies
(Brown v North County Community College
, 63 Misc 2d 442 ).
Rather, community colleges are established and operated under local sponsorship
(Education Law, §§ 6301 (3), 6302, 6304 and 6306). Erie County is the
local sponsor of ECC (see Matter of McDonough v Erie County,
207 AD2d 987
), and it is Erie County that is under a statutory obligation to indemnify
ECC’s board of trustees if the board is found liable in actions brought
against them (Education Law § 6308). The local sponsor is, therefore, the
real party in interest and all pleading requirements applicable to actions
against the local sponsor must be met (Solomon v State of New York
Cl, May 15, 2002, Patti, J., claim no. 105328, motion no. M-64643, UID #
2002-013-020). Accordingly, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction as
neither the State of New York nor the State University of New York is a proper
party Defendant, and as this Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear claims
against ECC or its local sponsor, Erie County (see
§ 9 of the Court
of Claims Act; Muro v State of New York
, Ct Cl, May 18, 2006, Ruderman,
J., claim no. 111927, motion no. M-71531; UID # 2006-010-011).
Claimant argues that the State of New York should be equitably estopped from
disclaiming subject matter jurisdiction because representations on the ECC and
SUNY web sites indicate that ECC is part of the SUNY system, and that
jurisdiction would be proper in the Court of Claims. Generally, a court’s
lack of subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived or created by estoppel or
laches (see Matter of E.F.S. Ventures Corp. v Foster, 71 NY2d 359 ;
Casella v Crosson, 178 AD2d 963 ; Cendales v State of New
York, 2 AD3d 1165 ). In certain rare and exceptional circumstances,
some courts have applied the estoppel doctrine against the State. Estoppel is
not, however, applicable in the circumstances presented herein (see generally
Casella v Crosson, 178 AD2d at 964-965).