New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MARCUS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2009-033-340, Claim No. 113058, Motion Nos. M-75278, M-75600


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):
M-75278, M-75600
Cross-motion number(s):

James J. Lack
Claimant’s attorney:
Falk & Klebanoff, P.C.By: Jeffrey P. Falk, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Attorney GeneralBy: Kimberly A. Kinirons, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
March 30, 2009

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is a claim for injuries to Sloane Marcus (hereinafter “claimant”) due to the alleged negligence of defendant. On September 30, 2006, at approximately 12:30 p.m., claimant was riding a horse in Caumsett Historic State Park, Lloyd Harbor, New York. Claimant alleges that a park ranger riding an ATV caused her to fall because the vehicle was emitting loud noises and speeding which caused the horse to throw claimant.

Defendant moves to dismiss the claim alleging that it is jurisdictionally defective because it fails to include an adequate description of the location of the incident. Alternatively, defendant moves for summary judgment[1].

Claimant moves to dismiss the third and fourth affirmative defenses asserted by defendant that the claim contains an inadequate description of where the incident took place and an inadequate description of the condition alleged in the claim[2].

The requirements of the Court of Claims Act are jurisdictional in nature and must be strictly construed (Lurie v State of New York, 73 AD2d 1006, aff’d 52 NY2d 849). The purpose of these requirements is to give the State prompt notice of an occurrence and an opportunity to investigate the facts and prepare a defense. There must be sufficient detail to enable the State to investigate (Schwartzberg v State of New York, 121 Misc 2d 1095, aff’d 98 AD2d 902). Pursuant to the Court of Claims Act, a claim must include the time when and place where the claim arose, the nature of the claim and the items of damage or injuries sustained. If the original document does not include all that is essential to constitute a claim, the document is jurisdictionally defective (Grande v State of New York, 160 Misc 2d 383). The claim is subject to dismissal and “a lack of prejudice to the State is an immaterial factor” (Byrne v State of New York, 104 AD2d 782, 784, lv denied 64 NY2d 607).

In Grande, claimant was involved in a motor vehicle accident when a tree fell on his motor vehicle. Claimant identified the location as traveling along Route 25A when a tree fell on his car. In another paragraph, claimant mentioned the Village of Brookville. The court inferred that the accident happened on Route 25A in Brookville. Given the lack of traveling direction, intersecting roadways or any other landmark the court found the claim to be jurisdictionally defective.

In the instant case, the description of the location states that “claimant was riding her horse, Ozzie, in Willow Tree Farm at or near the cross country jumping fields at the premises.”[3] In addition, claimant alleges that she was involved in an accident with a park ranger nearby. It is not hard from the four corners of the claim to conduct an investigation. Defendant has a place, a date, a time and an employee by title. With a cursory investigation, defendant can find out which of its park rangers were riding an ATV on the incident date at approximately 12:30 p.m. If defendant can say that more than one female riding a horse fell on that day, the Court may consider defendant’s arguments.

Therefore, the Court denies defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim for lack of jurisdiction. As claimant’s motion duplicates the opposition to defendant’s motion, claimant’s motion to strike the affirmative defenses is granted.

The Court turns its attention to defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is a drastic remedy which deprives a party of its day in court and should not be granted where there is any doubt as to the existence of a material issue of fact (Moskowitz v Garlock, 23 AD2d 943; Epstein v Scally, 99 AD2d 713). The Court's function is to determine if an issue exists. In doing so, the Court must examine the proof in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Summary judgment may only be granted if movant provides evidentiary proof in admissible form to demonstrate that there are no questions of fact (Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Center, 64 NY2d 851; Wanger v Zeh, 45 Misc 2d 93, aff'd 26 AD2d 729). Once the movant has demonstrated a prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law, the burden shifts to the opposing party to submit evidentiary proof in admissible form sufficient to create an issue of fact or demonstrate an acceptable excuse for his failure to submit such proof (Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320). Mere conclusions, speculation or expressions of hope are insufficient to defeat the motion (Amatulli v Delhi Constr. Corp., 77 NY2d 525).

From the evidence presented to the Court, it is clear that significant issues of fact exist.

Based upon the foregoing, defendant’s motion for summary judgment is denied; defendant’s motion to dismiss is denied; and claimant’s motion to strike defendant’s third and fourth affirmative defenses is granted.

March 30, 2009
Hauppauge, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1].The following papers have been read and considered on defendant’s motion: Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment dated September 30, 2008 and filed October 1, 2008; Affirmation in Support of Summary Judgment of Kimberly A. Kinirons, Esq. with annexed Exhibits A-E dated September 30, 2008 and filed October 1, 2008; Affirmation in Opposition of Jeffrey P. Falk, Esq. with annexed Exhibit 1 dated December 15, 2008 and filed December 22, 2008.
[2].The following papers have been read and considered on claimant’s motion: Notice of Motion dated July 14, 2008 and filed July 21, 2008; Affirmation of Jeffrey P. Falk, Esq. with annexed Exhibits A-B dated July 14, 2008 and filed July 21, 2008; Affirmation in Opposition to Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses of Kimberly A. Kinirons, Esq. with annexed Exhibits A-B dated August 19, 2008 and filed August 21, 2008.
[3].Willow Tree Farm is located within Caumsett Historic State Park.