Affidavit of Richard O’Brien, D.O., with Exhibits 4
Affidavit of Carl J. Thurnau, PE, with Exhibit 5
Memorandum of Law 6
Affirmation in Opposition, Memorandum of Law 7,8
Affidavit(Reply) of Robert F. Julian, Esq., with Exhibits 9
In his proposed claim (Exhibit A to Item 3), claimant alleges that he suffered
personal injuries when he fell from the top bunk bed in a dormitory at Onondaga
Community College, Syracuse, New York, on September 9, 2007, and that the named
defendants were negligent in failing to provide him with a safe and proper
Pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 10(6), a claimant who fails to timely
file and serve a claim may make application to serve and file a late claim,
provided that the application is made within such time as prescribed by the
Civil Practice Law and Rules for the bringing of an action against a private
citizen. In determining such an application, the Court is required to consider,
among other matters, six specific factors set forth in § 10(6).
Before considering these factors in this case, however, the Court will
consider defendant’s contention that this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over this claim.
The subject matter jurisdiction of the Court of Claims is limited to the State
of New York and certain public authorities that are sued in their own name
(Easley v New York State Thruway Auth., 1 NY2d 374). For example, when
the alleged wrongdoer is a State department or agency, the proper party
defendant is “the State of New York” only, and not that department
or agency. Accordingly, and as pertinent to the application herein, even though
this Court often hears claims originating on various campuses of the State
University of New York, the proper party defendant in such cases is the
“State of New York”.
As stated above, the Court of Claims also has jurisdiction over certain other
entities, such as the New York State Thruway Authority (Public Auth. Law §
361-b), the City University of New York (Education Law § 6224), and the
New York State Power Authority (Public Auth. Law § 1007).
In this application, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York has been
listed as a defendant in the proposed claim. The enabling legislation for the
Dormitory Authority, however, makes reference to the notice of claim procedure
set forth in General Municipal Law § 50-e (Public Authorities Law §
1691). By implication, this reference places jurisdiction over the Dormitory
Authority in the Supreme Court, and not in the Court of Claims.
As a result, with respect to the instant motion, the only proper defendant is
the State of New York, and not the State University of New York (SUNY) or the
Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.
Also, as set forth in the proposed claim, the incident forming the basis of
this potential claim occurred at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New
York. Claimant contends that Onondaga Community College is part of the SUNY
system, and therefore is subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims.
The State University of New York is a corporation created within the New York
State Education Department (Education Law § 352; § 101). However,
community colleges, such as Onondaga Community College are organized pursuant to
§§ 6301(2) and (3) and 6302 of the Education Law. Community colleges
are established and operated under local sponsorship (Education Law §§
6301, 6302, 6304 and 6306). They are not part of the SUNY corporation
(Education Law § 352) and are not State agencies (Brown v North
Country Community College
, 63 Misc 2d 442). Rather, the local sponsor of
the community college is the real party in interest (Solomon v State of New
, Ct Cl, May 15, 2002, Patti, J., Claim No. 105328, Motion No. M-64643,
UID # 2002-013-020).
As a result, this Court
does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear claims against Onondaga
Community College or its local sponsor (Court of Claims Act §
In his reply affidavit, however, claimant’s attorney submits various
documents from both the SUNY website and the Onondaga Community College website,
indicating that Onondaga Community College is part of the SUNY school system.
While the Court is of the opinion that these representations certainly are
misleading, they nevertheless are legally insufficient to confirm subject matter
jurisdiction upon this Court without specific legislative action.
Based on the foregoing analysis, therefore, it is the determination of this
Court that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the potential claim
asserted by the claimant. It would therefore be futile to permit the late
filing of this claim without such subject matter jurisdiction, as well as being
misleading and potentially prejudicial to the claimant. Any further
consideration of the six statutory factors of § 10(6) is clearly not
warranted under these circumstances.
Therefore, it is
ORDERED, that Motion No. M-75584, seeking permission to serve and file a late
claim, is hereby DENIED.