New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CLASSIC v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-045-029, Claim No. None, Motion No. M-74740


Synopsis


Late claim motion granted.

Case Information

UID:
2008-045-029
Claimant(s):
CLASSIC TRANSPORTATION, INC.
Claimant short name:
CLASSIC
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
None
Motion number(s):
M-74740
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
GINA M. LOPEZ-SUMMA
Claimant’s attorney:
Manfredi Associates, LLCBy: Francis P. Manfredi, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Todd A. Schall, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
June 26, 2008
City:
Hauppauge
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

The following papers were read and considered by the Court on this motion: Claimant’s Notice of Motion, Claimant’s Affirmation in Support with annexed Exhibits A-H and Defendant’s Affirmation in Opposition. Claimant, Classic Transportation, Inc., has brought this motion seeking an order granting leave to file a late claim pursuant to General Municipal Law § 50-e(5). Defendant, the State of New York, has opposed this application.

At the outset the Court notes that late claim relief in the Court of Claims is only available pursuant to Court of Claims Act (CCA) § 10(6).

Claimant alleges in its proposed claim (Cl Exh H) that on November 30, 2006 at approximately 7:50 p.m. its vehicle was parked on the State University of New York (SUNY) Old Westbury campus. At that time a vehicle owned by defendant and operated by an employee of defendant struck claimant’s vehicle causing property damage to the vehicle in the amount of $8,326.11.

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]). In determining whether relief to file a late claim should be granted the Court must take into consideration the factors set forth in Court of Claims Act § 10(6) (Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV, Inc. v New York State Employees' Retirement Sys. Policemen's & Firemen's Retirement Sys., 55 NY2d 979 [1982]). The factors are not necessarily exhaustive, nor is the presence or absence of any particular one controlling (id.). Those factors are whether the delay in filing the claim was excusable; whether the defendant had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim; whether the defendant had an opportunity to investigate; whether the defendant was substantially prejudiced; whether the claim appears to be meritorious and whether the claimant has any other available remedy. A proposed claim to be filed, containing all of the information set forth in CCA § 11, shall accompany any late claim application.

Claimant does not offer any legally acceptable excuse for the delay in the filing of his claim. However, lack of an acceptable excuse, alone, is not an absolute bar to a late claim application (Matter of Carvalho v State of New York, 176 AD2d 317 [2d Dept 1991]). A reasonable excuse for untimely service is only one of several factors taken into consideration by the Court when considering whether to allow late filing of a claim and is not by itself determinative.

The next three factors, notice, an opportunity to investigate and prejudice are interrelated and as such will be considered together. Claimant states that on December 28, 2006 it sent notice of its claim to SUNY together with a copy of its claim file which included the police report and the witness statements. By letter dated January 12, 2007, claimant was advised that Cool Risk Management Services was the claims administrator for defendant. Claimant was further advised that Cool Risk Management Services would investigate the claim and make the appropriate recommendations to the Attorney General’s Office for settlement. On February 5, 2007 claimant returned a completed claim form to Cool Risk Management Services. On June 26, 2007, claimant was informed that its claim was being denied due to claimant’s failure to file a claim in the Court of Claims. Defendant does not deny that Cool Risk Management Services was the appropriate claims administrator authorized to act on its behalf in this matter or that SUNY received timely notice of the essential facts constituting the claim. Thus, given the totality of the circumstances presented in this claim, the Court finds that the balance of these factors weigh in claimant’s favor.

Claimant has failed to present any arguments concerning the unavailability of an alternative remedy. Thus, this factor must be found in defendant’s favor.

The most significant issue to be considered is that of merit. To permit the filing of a legally deficient claim would be an exercise in futility (Savino v State of New York, 199 AD2d 254 [2d Dept 1993]).

In order for a claim to “appear to be meritorious”: (1) it must not be patently groundless, frivolous, or legally defective, and (2) the court must find, upon a consideration of the entire record, including the proposed claim and any affidavits or exhibits, that there is reasonable cause to believe that a valid cause of action exists. ...[T]he court need only determine whether to allow the filing of the claim, leaving the actual merits of the case to be decided in due course. While this standard clearly places a heavier burden on a claimant who has filed late than upon one whose claim is timely, it does not, and should not, require him to definitively establish the merits of his claim, or overcome all legal objections thereto, before the court will permit him to file (Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway Authority, 92 Misc 2d 1, 11 [Ct Cl 1977]).



The Court finds that claimant has established through its exhibits that, for the purposes of this motion, its claim for property damage is meritorious.

Based upon the foregoing and having considered the statutory factors enumerated in Court of Claims Act § 10(6), the Court finds that the factors favor claimant’s application. Thus, the Court hereby grants claimant’s motion to file a late claim.

Accordingly, within sixty (60) days of the date this decision and order is filed, claimant shall file and serve the proposed claim, together with a payment of the appropriate filing fee, pursuant to Court of Claims Act § § 11 and 11-a.


June 26, 2008
Hauppauge, New York

HON. GINA M. LOPEZ-SUMMA
Judge of the Court of Claims