New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RODGERS v. STATE OF NEW YORK,


SOUTH BUFFALO CHARTER SCHOOL,


IMAGINE SCHOOLS INC.,


STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK CHARTER


SCHOOLS INSTITUTE,


BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE STATE UNIVERSITY


OF NEW YORK, #2009-037-008, Claim No. 116179, Motion No. M-76241


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2009-037-008
Claimant(s):
APRIL RODGERS, individually and as parent and natural guardian for RISHONA RODGERS, minor
Claimant short name:
RODGERS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
STATE OF NEW YORK,
SOUTH BUFFALO CHARTER SCHOOL,
IMAGINE SCHOOLS INC.,
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK CHARTER
SCHOOLS INSTITUTE,
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE STATE UNIVERSITYOF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
116179
Motion number(s):
M-76241
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
JEREMIAH J. MORIARTY III
Claimant’s attorney:
The Ballow Law Firm, P.C.By: Robyn L. Blanchard, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
New York State Attorney General
By: Gregory P. MillerAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
April 14, 2009
City:
Buffalo
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following were read and considered with respect to Defendant’s motion to dismiss:

  1. Notice of motion and undated, supporting affirmation of Assistant Attorney General
Gregory P. Miller with annexed Exhibit A;

  1. Opposing affidavit of Robyn L. Blanchard, Esq. sworn to March 2, 2009, with
annexed Exhibits A-C;

  1. Reply affirmation of Assistant Attorney General Gregory P. Miller dated March 9,
2009;

  1. Reply affidavit of Robyn L. Blanchard, Esq. sworn to March 10, 2009.

Filed papers: Claim filed December 9, 2008.

This is a claim for personal injuries arising out of an incident that occurred on September 25, 2008 when the infant Claimant was allegedly injured while playing outside on the playground of the South Buffalo Charter School during recess. In lieu of answering the claim, Defendant moved to dismiss the claim on the ground that the Court of Claims does not have jurisdiction.

The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction with power to hear claims against the State of New York and certain public authorities as specified by statute (see § 9 of the Court of Claims Act). There is no statute which confers jurisdiction over charter schools to the Court of Claims (Holmes v Promise Academy Charter School, Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc.-Charter Schools Institute State University of New York, Ct Cl, November 18, 2008, Marin, J., claim no. 115140, motion no. M-75152, UID # 2008-016-064).[1]

Charter schools are organized under § 2853 of the Education Law. Pursuant to subsection (1) (c), charter schools are deemed to be independent and autonomous public schools. They are not subdivisions or agencies of the State of New York and civil liability attaches only to their own education corporation (Robayo v State of New York, Ct Cl, March 30, 2007, Sise, P.J., claim no. 113082, motion no. M-72708, UID # 2007-028-537). “Neither the local school district, the charter entity nor the state shall be liable for the debts or financial obligations of a charter school or any person or corporate entity who operates a charter school” (see subsection (1) (g) of § 2853 of the Education Law).

Claimant concedes that the South Buffalo Charter School owns the property at 2219 South Park Avenue and that the Court of Claims does not have jurisdiction to hear claims against the South Buffalo Charter School or Imagine Schools, Inc. In opposition to Defendant’s motion to dismiss, Claimant merely argues that discovery may show that the State of New York has some ownership interest or liability for maintenance of the playground. The only basis for this supposition is a conference with former counsel to South Buffalo Charter School who apparently advised that the playground may be owned by the City of Buffalo or “another entity.” The mere hope, however, that discovery will uncover something to override statutory and case law authority is insufficient to defeat Defendant’s motion.

Based on the foregoing, it is hereby

ORDERED, that Defendant’s motion to dismiss is granted and claim no. 116179 is hereby dismissed.



April 14, 2009
Buffalo, New York

HON. JEREMIAH J. MORIARTY III
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]. This and other Court of Claims decisions may be found on the Court’s website at www.nyscourtofclaims.state.ny.us.