New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HUNTLEY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-028-500, Claim No. NONE, Motion No. M-71890


Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant’s attorney:
Defendant’s attorney:
BY: Paul F. Cagino, Esq.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
January 9, 2008

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers were read on movant’s application pursuant to Court of Claims Act

§ 10(6) for permission to file a late Claim:

1) Motion filed June 7, 2006 with annexed exhibits; and

2) Affidavit in Opposition of Assistant Attorney General Paul F. Cagino, filed July 31, 2006.

3) “Answer in Reply” filed August 16, 2006.

Robert L. Huntley (movant) seeks the Court’s permission to file a late claim against the defendant alleging that defendant violated his rights in conducting a biased and unfair psychological screening in connection with his application to be appointed as a New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) Correction Officer Trainee. As a consequence of the allegedly biased initial psychological screening and his subsequent administrative appeal before the Independent Advisory Board (see Correction Law § 8) which was also allegedly biased against him, movant contends that he was deprived of an opportunity to have a career as a correction officer.

Defendant, State of New York, opposes the motion upon the procedural ground that the papers do not comply with CPLR 2214 and also argues that the motion is deficient in that it does not articulate any relief sought or the grounds supporting any relief.

The factors a Court must consider in determining a motion for permission to file a late claim pursuant to CCA § 10 (6) are whether 1) the delay in filing the claim was excusable, 2) the State had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim, 3) the State had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances underlying the claim, 4) the claim appears to be meritorious, 5) the failure to file or serve upon the attorney general a timely claim or notice of intention resulted in substantial prejudice to the State, and 6) there is any other available remedy (see Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV v New York State Employees’ Retirement System Policemen’s & Firemen’s Retirement System, 55 NY2d 979, 981 [1982]; Matter of Gavigan v State of New York, 176 AD2d 1117, 1118 [3d Dept 1991]).

Ignoring the procedural infirmities with this application, such as whether the voluminous submission actually contains papers that could collectively be deemed a proposed claim (see Davis v State of New York, 28 AD2d 609, 610 [3d Dept 1967][addressing former section 10 (5)]; see also Walach v State of New York, 91 Misc 2d 167, 169 [1977] affd 69 AD2d 1015 [4th Dept 1979]), it is the view of this Court that regardless of the merits of movant’s allegations, it is jurisdictionally precluded from entertaining this proposed action.

In reviewing the six factors enumerated by the statute, the courts have considered the most decisive factor to be whether the proposed Claim appears to be meritorious. It would be futile to permit the movant to proceed if his Claim is likely to be deemed meritless (see Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway Auth., 92 Misc 2d 1, 10 [1977]). In the instant application, as best as the Court can discern, movant is essentially challenging the determination of the reviewing psychologist and the subsequent determination made upon his appeal hearing by the Independent Advisory Board pursuant to the procedures set forth in Correction Law § 8.

Judicial review of a psychological screening determination made in conjunction with the eligibility requirements for appointment as a correction officer is by way of a proceeding pursuant to Article 78 of the CPLR (see Matter of Coleman v State of New York, 38 AD3d 1044 [3d Dept 2007]; see also Matter of Needleman v County of Rockland, 270 AD2d 423 [2d Dept 2000]; Matter of Murray v County of Nassau Civil Serv. Commn., 13 Misc 3d 1131 [A] [2007] [noting the wide discretion of appointing authorities in CPLR Article 78 proceedings involving challenges to eligibility of candidates for law enforcement positions based on psychological screenings under Civil Service Law § 50]). “ [T]his [C]ourt's jurisdiction is limited to awarding damages in tort or contract and not to review discretionary decisions of agencies” (Bertoldi v State of New York, 164 Misc 2d 581, 587 affd 275 AD2d 227, lv denied 96 NY2d 706). “If the award of a money judgment must be preceded by overturning and annulling a determination of an administrative agency then the primary relief sought is not money damages” (Ouziel v State of New York, 174 Misc 2d 900, 905).

Here, although movant is not entirely clear on the exact relief he is seeking, the Court does not possess the equitable jurisdiction to direct DOCS to annul its prior determination and reconsider his candidacy. Similarly, in order to find that movant/claimant was entitled to any sort of damages, the Court would first have to perform the functional equivalent of an annulment of the determination of the Independent Review Board. This falls beyond the Court’s jurisdiction (see Harvard Fin. Servs. v State of New York, 266 AD2d 685; Bertoldi v State of New York, 164 Misc 2d 581 supra; Lublin v State of New York, 135 Misc 2d 419, affd 135 AD2d 1155, lv denied 71 NY2d 802). Consequently, upon a review of movant’s submission and application of the statutory factors, the Court must deny the motion for permission to file a late claim.

January 9, 2008
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims