New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LOCASCIO v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-045-032, Claim No. None, Motion No. M-75129


Synopsis


Late claim motion MVA denied with leave to file new application. Threshold issue.

Case Information

UID:
2008-045-032
Claimant(s):
MARIA LOCASCIO
Claimant short name:
LOCASCIO
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-75129
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
GINA M. LOPEZ-SUMMA
Claimant’s attorney:
Sackstein, Sackstein & Lee, LLPBy: Scott T. Ackerman, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Todd A. Schall, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 16, 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, B, C, D and E, Defendant’s Affirmation in Opposition and Claimant’s Affirmation in Reply. Claimant, Maria Locascio, has brought this motion seeking an order granting leave to file a late claim[1] pursuant to Court of Claims Act (CCA) § 10(6). Defendant, the State of New York, has opposed this application.

Claimant alleges in the proposed claim (Cl Exh E) that on March 8, 2008 at approximately 11:35 p.m. she was the owner and operator of a motor vehicle traveling on Hempstead Turnpike. At that time her vehicle came into contact with another motor vehicle traveling northbound on Meachum Avenue at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and Meachum Avenue. Claimant alleges that the accident was caused by a defective traffic control device at that location. Claimant contends, inter alia, that the traffic control device was owned and negligently maintained by defendant. Claimant has also submitted a copy of the police accident report with the motion. The police report refers to a defective traffic signal at the location of the accident.

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. Aside from broad generalizations, defendant has not specifically identified how it has been prejudiced by the two-week delay in the filing and serving of the claim. Thus, after weighing all the circumstances involved in the present action, these factors are found to be in claimant’s favor.

It appears as though claimant may have an alternate remedy against a private entity in Supreme Court. 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 Auth., 92 Misc 2d 1, 11, 12 [Ct Cl 1977]).



The Court finds that claimant has established, for the purposes of this motion, that the claim 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.


September 16, 2008
Hauppauge, New York

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




[1].The Court of Claims does not provide for the filing of a late Notice of Claim.