New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SYSTEMS & SERVICES v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-039-010, , Motion No. M-72641


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2007-039-010
Claimant(s):
SYSTEMS & SERVICES TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Attorney-in-Fact For Washington Mutual Bank, FSB, who is attorney-in-fact for the lienholder, The Dime Savings Bank of New York, FSB
Claimant short name:
SYSTEMS & SERVICES
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):

Motion number(s):
M-72641
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
JAMES H. FERREIRA
Claimant’s attorney:
McNamee, Lochner, Titus & Williams, P.C.By: Michael J. Hall, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: Dennis M. Acton Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
February 28, 2007
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Systems & Services Technologies, Inc., attorney-in-fact for Washington Mutual Bank, FSB, who is attorney-in-fact for the lienholder, The Dime Savings Bank of New York, FSB (hereinafter movant), seeks permission to serve and file a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 10 (6). Movant asserts in its proposed claim, among other things, that the lienholder had a lien on a 2001 Chevrolet Corvette which was not satisfied when the vehicle was subsequently sold, and that the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles issued a title to the purchaser absent the lien. Defendant does not oppose the motion. It is well settled that “[t]he Court of Claims is vested with broad discretion to grant or deny an application for permission to file a late claim” (Matter of Brown v State of New York, 6 AD3d 756, 757 [2004]). When deciding whether to grant an application to file a late claim, the court is required to consider
“among other factors, whether the delay in filing the claim was excusable; whether the state had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim; whether the state had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances underlying the claim; whether the claim appears to be meritorious; whether the failure to file or serve upon the attorney general a timely claim or to serve upon the attorney general a notice of intention resulted in substantial prejudice to the state; and whether the claimant has any other available remedy” (Court of Claims Act § 10 [6]).

Moreover, “as it would be futile to permit a defective claim to be filed even if the other factors in Court of Claims Act § 10 (6) supported the granting of the claimant’s motion,” the Court should first consider whether the claim has merit (Savino v State of New York, 199 AD2d 254, 255 [1993]).

Based upon the foregoing factors and principles, the Court concludes that the motion for permission to file a late claim shall be granted. In the first instance, the claim appears to be meritorious since defendant may be held liable for the alleged negligent performance of “the ministerial tasks involved in preparing the paperwork and issuing the certificate of title” as alleged therein (Ford Motor Credit Co. v State of New York, 133 AD2d 980, 982 [1987]). Movant offers sufficient proof to establish a justifiable excuse for the delay in filing. More specifically, movant offers the affidavits of counsel and an employee of counsel’s law firm which establish that diligent efforts were made to determine the status of the lien and to resolve this matter without resort to litigation, thereby delaying the filing of a claim. Moreover, the factors of notice, opportunity to investigate and prejudice must be resolved in favor of movant since “[t]he State’s alleged negligent act is memorialized in the documents of DMV and the defendant will not be prejudiced if late claim relief is granted” (Lobel Financial v State of New York, # 2000-015-052, Claim No. 99833, August 2, 2000, Collins, J.). Finally, since the lien was extinguished, the owner of the vehicle is judgment proof and the only recourse now available to movant is litigation in the Court of Claims against the State.

Nor does the Court find that the proposed claim is barred by expiration of the applicable Statute of Limitations. The proposed claim sounds in negligence (see Lobel Financial v State of New York, supra) and, accordingly, the applicable Statute of Limitations is three years as set forth in CPLR § 214. As posited by movant, even if the Court were to determine that the claim accrued at the earliest date - that being June 2004 when it was likely that the vehicle was sold free of movant’s lien - the late claim application is timely.

For the reasons discussed above, the motion to serve and file a late claim is granted.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that Motion No. M-72641 is hereby granted. Movant may serve and file the claim within 30 days of the filing date of this decision and order, in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Court of Claims Act and the Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims, including payment of the filing fee.

February 28, 2007
Albany, New York

HON. JAMES H. FERREIRA
Judge of the Court of Claims


Papers Considered:
  1. Notice of Motion dated December 7, 2006;
  2. Affidavit of Kenneth L. Gellhaus in Support of Motion, sworn to on December 7, 2006, with exhibits;
  3. Affidavit of Jason L. Waite in Support of Motion sworn to on December 7, 2006;
  4. Affidavit of Michael J. Hall in Support of Motion sworn to on December 7, 2006; and
  5. Correspondence from Assistant Attorney General Saul Aronson (for Dennis M. Acton, Assistant Attorney General) dated December 22, 2006.