New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BECK v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-044-536, Claim No. 113038, Motion No. M-72990


Synopsis


Court dismissed claim which sought reclamation of claimant's land by the DEC, where that land was allegedly improperly mined by an adjoining property owner, and DEC had taken over adjoining mine for reclamation. Court was without jurisdiction to adjudicate claim, as Environmental Conservation Law mandates that such proceedings be brought under CPLR Article 78 in Supreme Court.

Case Information

UID:
2007-044-536
Claimant(s):
CALVIN D. BECK
Claimant short name:
BECK
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
113038
Motion number(s):
M-72990
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
CATHERINE C. SCHAEWE
Claimant’s attorney:
JOHN D. CAMERON, ESQ.
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Roberto Barbosa, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
May 10, 2007
City:
Binghamton
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The claim in this action seeks reclamation of claimant's land by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), where that land was allegedly improperly mined by an adjoining property owner. DEC eventually revoked the adjoining property owner's mining permit, and has apparently taken over reclamation of the mine site on the adjoining owner's land. Defendant State of New York (defendant) moves to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the claim is premature, that it seeks a remedy beyond this Court's jurisdiction, and that defendant is immune from liability for its actions. Defendant is correct that claimant seeks a remedy beyond this Court's jurisdiction. Defendant's contention is that claimant is seeking equitable relief, by requesting that DEC be required to properly complete the reclamation of the land. Claimant's response is that the claim alternately sets forth a request for the monetary amount required to repair the damage done to his land.

While defendant's statement that this Court does not have jurisdiction to grant strictly equitable relief is clearly accurate (see Psaty v Duryea, 306 NY 413, 416-417 [1954]), there is a pertinent provision of law which actually mandates the manner in which DEC's actions may be challenged under these circumstances.

Environmental Conservation Law §23-2721, entitled “Judicial review,” provides that : “[a]ny act, omission, determination or order of the department or of any officer or employee thereof, pursuant to or within the scope of this title, may be reviewed in accordance with article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules.” The actions (or omissions, as the case may be) of the DEC in this matter clearly fall within the scope of the title referred to in that section, i.e. the New York State Mined Land Reclamation Law, Title 27 of Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law. CPLR 7804 (b) requires that article 78 proceedings be brought in the supreme court. Accordingly, and without addressing the parties' arguments regarding special relationships and the premature nature of the claim, this Court is clearly without jurisdiction to adjudicate the issues herein.

Defendant's motion to dismiss Claim No. 113038 is hereby granted.


May 10, 2007
Binghamton, New York

HON. CATHERINE C. SCHAEWE
Judge of the Court of Claims


The following papers were read on defendant’s motion to dismiss:


1). Notice of Motion filed on February 26, 2007; Affirmation of Roberto Barbosa, AAG, dated February 23, 2007 and attached Exhibits 1 through 3.


2). Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss dated March 8, 2007.


3). Affirmation in Opposition of John D. Cameron, Esq. dated March 20, 2007 and attached Exhibits 1 and A through E.


Filed papers: Claim filed on November 22, 2006; Verified Answer filed on January 11, 2007.