Defendant brings a motion seeking a Decision and Order dismissing the claim
pursuant to CPLR 3211(a) (1) and (7) on the grounds that there is a defense
based upon documentary evidence; and as a result, the claim fails to state a
cause of action. Claimant opposes the motion.
The claim arises from Claimant’s arrest on an outstanding warrant on
October 20, 2007, at approximately 6:45 p.m., when she was pulled over for an
alleged traffic violation. During that traffic stop, Claimant was arrested on
the warrant and placed in jail overnight; the warrant was based upon her alleged
failure to pay a fine for violating a City of Syracuse ordinance. The fine
resulted from a citation issued to her on May 10, 2006, when a person was bitten
by a dog which Claimant alleges was owned by her brother. For that citation,
Claimant was directed to pay a fine of $75 by June 19, 2006, and that Claimant
alleges that she paid the fine on June 15, 2006. Claimant alleges that the
Defendant negligently processed the payment of her fine resulting in the
issuance of the warrant for her arrest. Based upon her payment of the fine,
Claimant believes the warrant was wrongfully issued.
By this motion, Defendant asserts that documentary evidence establishes that
the ticket Claimant paid on June 15, 2006, was actually a traffic ticket issued
to Daryl Johnson and not the fine for violating the local dog control ordinance.
Based upon this evidence, Defendant alleges the claim fails to state a cause of
action and must be dismissed because Defendant did not act negligently in
processing Claimant’s payment or issuing the bench warrant.
On a motion to dismiss, the Court must liberally construe the claim and accept
as true the facts asserted (511 West 232nd Owners Corp. v Jennifer Realty
Co., 98 NY2d 144; Niagara Falls Water Bd. v City of Niagara Falls, 64
AD3d 1142). Claimant must be given every favorable inference (Leon v
Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87). Dismissal based upon CPLR 3211(a) (1) is only
authorized if “the documentary evidence submitted conclusively establishes
a defense to the asserted claims as a matter of law.” (Leon, 84
NY2d at 88; 511 West 232nd Owners Corp. 98 NY2d at 152; Schiavetti v
A & L, Inc., 34 AD3d 1267). The motion to dismiss for failure to state
a cause of action must be denied if from the “four corners” of the
pleading the factual assertions set forth any cognizable cause of action
(People v Coventry First LLC, 13 NY3d 108; Leon, 84 NY2d at
Here, Defendant’s documentary evidence shows that Claimant was obligated
to pay a $75 fine by June 19, 2006. Claimant paid a fine in the amount of $75
on June 15, 2006, which was credited to a fine and surcharge in the amount of
$110 imposed on a traffic ticket (LV-0422995) issued to Daryl L. Johnson,
Claimant’s brother. The fine and surcharge, however, had already been
paid on the traffic ticket on May 26, 2006.
Claimant, in response to this motion, states she advised the Clerk at the City
Court Clerk’s Office on June 15, 2006, that she was there to pay the fine
on her local ordinance ticket. Her payment was undoubtedly not credited to her
fine. Under the circumstances, Defendant has failed to conclusively establish
as a matter of law a defense to the asserted claim. Moreover, Claimant has set
forth a cognizable cause of action for ministerial neglect (see Ostrowski v
State of New York, 186 Misc 2d 890; Stewart v State of New York, 18
Misc 3d 236).
Accordingly, Defendant’s motion is DENIED.