New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

KAPSIS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2009-045-003, Claim No. 115372, Motion No. M-75388


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2009-045-003
Claimant(s):
JAMES L. KAPSIS, INDIVIDUALLY, and as CHAIRMAN OF THE NASSAU COUNTY COMMITTEE OF THE INDEPENDENCE PARTY
1 1.The caption has been amended, sua sponte, to reflect The State of New York as the proper defendant.
Claimant short name:
KAPSIS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
The caption has been amended, sua sponte, to reflect The State of New York as the proper defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
115372
Motion number(s):
M-75388
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
GINA M. LOPEZ-SUMMA
Claimant’s attorney:
James L. Kapsis, Pro SeBy: No Appearance
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Patricia M. Hingerton, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
January 21, 2009
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: Defendant’s Notice of Motion to Dismiss, Defendant’s Affirmation in Support of Motion to Dismiss with annexed Exhibits A-O and Defendant’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss. Defendant, the State of New York, has moved pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules 3211(a)(2), (3) and (7) to dismiss the claim in this matter. Claimants, James L. Kapsis, Individually, and as Chairman of the Nassau County Committee of the Independence Party, have failed to oppose this motion.

At the outset, the Court notes that the original caption in the claim lists “The Office of Court Administration and Hon. Antonio L. Brandveen, Acting Supreme Court Justice, Nassau County New York” as defendants in this matter. However, the Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction wherein claims primarily seeking monetary damages against the State of New York are brought (see Court of Claims Act § 9). It is well settled that the State of New York is the real party in interest for claims against state agencies (Morell v Balasubramanian, 70 NY2d 297 [1987]). It is equally clear that claims against a state officer for conduct undertaken in an official capacity and in the exercise of an official governmental function are essentially claims against the State of New York (Morell v Balasubramanian, 70 NY2d 297 [1987]; Woodward v State of New York, 23 AD3d 852, 856 [3d Dept 2005]). The Court of Claims does not have jurisdiction over claims against Hon. Antonio L. Brandveen, individually (see Court of Claims Act § 9). Thus, to the extent the claim in this matter alleges claims against Hon. Antonio L. Brandveen, individually, they are hereby dismissed. The Court also amends the caption to reflect the State of New York as the proper defendant in this matter.

Defendant argues that at the time claimants filed the claim James L. Kapsis was enjoined by an order of Supreme Court Justice Arthur M. Diamond from holding himself out as a representative of the Nassau County Committee of the Independence Party. Defendant continues that in an order dated July 2, 2008 Justice Diamond determined that Mr. Kapsis was not the chairman of the Nassau County Independence Party and had no authority to sue in that capacity.

Defendant has shown that the identical issue was decided in the prior actions and are decisive in the present action (D'Arata v New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 76 NY2d 659, 664 [1990]). Claimants have failed to raise a challenge to the assertion that they had a full and fair opportunity to contest the prior determination (Kaufman v Lilly & Co., 65 NY2d 449 [1985]). Thus, the Supreme Court ruling on that issue against claimants must be given conclusive effect in the Court of Claims (Rodenheiser v State of New York, 47 AD3d 788 [2d Dept 2008]; Mathieu v Scalea, 285 AD2d 631 [2d Dept 2001]). Accordingly, any claims raised by claimants as chairman of the Nassau County Independence Party are dismissed.

Although defendant does not specifically reference Court of Claims Act § 11(b), defendant mentions in its memorandum of law that claimants’ “allegations are far from clear” and that the claim does not clearly state what exactly occurred on the accrual date.

Court of Claims Act § 11(b) requires in pertinent part that “the claim shall state the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, [and] the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained.” These requirements are jurisdictional in nature and must be strictly complied with in order to properly initiate an action against defendant (Kolnacki v State of New York, 8 NY3d 277 [2007]). “The Court of Claims Act does not require [defendant] to ferret out or assemble information that section 11(b) obligates the claimant to allege” (Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201 [2003]).

The claim in this matter is written in a disjointed and confusing fashion. An independent reading of the claim does not provide a reader with a clear understanding of the alleged wrongs complained of in this action, the related legal basis for claimants’ allegations and the specific dates when the underlying actions took place. At one point in the claim, claimants state that “[t]he nature of this mandamus to compel, is within the four month Statute of Limitations, in which a demand by Claimants to Defendants have been made and Defendants refused to act or to perform their duty enjoined by law.” It is axiomatic that such relief is not within the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims and that the four month statute of limitations period mentioned is also inapplicable in this court (see Court of Claims Act § 9). Claimants then put forth a request for a jury trial which is unavailable in the Court of Claims (Graham v Stillman, 100 AD2d 893 [2d Dept 1984]; see also Court of Claims Act § 12[3]). The claim is replete with references to violations of federal statutes and the United States Constitution which are outside the jurisdiction of this court to entertain (see Court of Claims Act § 9). Claimants state that their claim accrued on June 2, 2008 at 2:13 p.m. and that their civil rights were violated but do not clearly state what occurred on that date to form the basis of their cause of action. Thus, this Court must dismiss the claim in this matter due to claimants’ failure to plead their claim in compliance with Court of Claims Act § 11(b) (Kolnacki v State of New York, 8 NY3d 277 [2007]; see also Rivera v State of New York, 52 AD3d 1075 [3d Dept 2008]).

Notwithstanding claimants’ failure to comply with Court of Claims Act § 11(b), claimants have failed to set forth a viable cause of action in their claim. As previously stated, to the extent claimants are presenting claims based on violations of federal statutes as well as the United States Constitution they are beyond this Court’s jurisdiction and must be dismissed (see Court of Claims Act § 9). Similarly, to the extent claimants are seeking injunctive or Article 78 relief, those remedies are outside the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims and must also be dismissed (see Court of Claims Act § 9). Additionally, defendant argues without contradiction that Judge Brandveen’s decisions in claimants’ Supreme Court actions were rendered in July 2005 and March 2007. The claim in this matter was not filed until June 12, 2008 and there is no record of a notice of intention being served in this action. Thus, in regard to any complained of actions which accrued more than ninety days prior to June 12, 2008 they must be dismissed since they were not timely filed in accordance with Court of Claims Act §§ 10(3) or 10(3-b). Additionally, the Court of Claims should not imply a State Constitutional remedy when an adequate alternative remedy is available to claimants (Waxter v State of New York, 33 AD3d 1180 [2006]; Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d 78 [2001]; Remley v State of New York, 174 Misc 2d 523 [Ct Cl 1997]). Claimants have apparently availed themselves of various methods of review in other courts for their allegations. Finally, it is well settled that defendant is entitled to absolute immunity from suit for those governmental actions involving the exercise of discretion of a judicial nature (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212 [1988]; Tarter v State of New York, 68 NY2d 511 [1986]; Tango v Tulevech, 61 NY2d 34 [1983]). After reviewing the claim this Court finds that the doctrine of judicial immunity applies in regard to the actions taken by Justice Brandveen since they were within the jurisdiction of the judge (Montesano v State of New York, 11 AD3d 435 [2d Dept 2004]). Thus, this Court must dismiss the remaining portions of the claim in this action.

Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, defendant’s motion to dismiss is granted.

January 21, 2009
Hauppauge, New York
HON. GINA M. LOPEZ-SUMMA
Judge of the Court of Claims