New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
PEAK v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-040-100, Claim No. 131869, Motion No. M-92824

Synopsis

State's pre-Answer Motion to Dismiss the Claim granted as the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction as incident occurred at a location owned and operated by Oneida County.

Case information

UID: 2018-040-100
Claimant(s): In the Matter of the Claim of CAROLYN PEAK
Claimant short name: PEAK
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 131869
Motion number(s): M-92824
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY
Claimant's attorney: Ralph W. Fusco, Esq.
Defendant's attorney: BARBARA D. UNDERWOOD
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: William E. Arnold, IV, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: October 26, 2018
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's pre-Answer Motion to dismiss the Claim pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(2) on the basis that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the matter as the underlying incident occurred at a location owned and operated by the County of Oneida is granted.

This Claim(1) , which was filed in the office of the Clerk of the Court on August 17, 2018, alleges that, on July 9, 2018, Claimant was in the process of walking down a hall at Mohawk Valley Community College when she slipped and fell on water that had been spilled on the floor, which caused a hazardous condition (Claim, 4, 5). It is asserted that the State negligently maintained the floor (id., 6).

Defendant seeks dismissal of the Claim on the basis that the State is not the proper party Defendant in this action. Claimant has not submitted any papers in opposition to the State's Motion.

The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction with power to hear claims against the State and certain public authorities (NY Const, art VI; Court of Claims Act  9).

Although community colleges receive some of their funding from the State of New York and their programs are subject to oversight by the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York (hereinafter, "SUNY"), they are established and operated under local sponsorship (Education Law 6301, 6302, 6304, and 6306). In addition, community colleges are not part of SUNY (Education Law 352[1] and [3]) and are not State agencies (Education Law 352[1] and [3]; see Matter of Russo v Nassau County Community Coll., 81 NY2d 690, 695-695 [1993]; see also Brown v North Country Community Coll., 63 Misc 2d 442, 444-445 [Sup Ct, Essex Co. 1970]; Pierce v State of New York, UID No. 2012-032-030 [Ct Cl, Hard, J., June 26, 2012]). Additionally, title to real property is vested in the local sponsor of the community college and its board of trustees has the care, custody, and control of the lands, buildings, and facilities (Education Law 6306[4]) and the college's lands, buildings, and facilities are controlled and managed by its Board of Trustees (Education Law 6306 [5]). An action against a community college is properly commenced in Supreme Court and not in the Court of Claims (Jackson v Board of Educ. of City of N.Y., 30 AD3d 57 [1st Dept 2006]; Jessop v State of New York, UID No. 2011-045-073 [Ct Cl, Lopez-Summa, J., Nov. 14, 2011]).

Accordingly, the Court of Claims lacks subject matter jurisdiction since neither the State nor SUNY is a proper party Defendant, and this Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear claims against Mohawk Community College or its local sponsor, Oneida County (see Daugherty v County of Oneida, 22 AD2d 111, 112 [4th Dept 1964]; see also Patriss v State University of New York, UID No. 2012-039-287 [Ct Cl, Ferreira, J., Feb. 23, 2012]; Musgrove v State of New York, UID No. 2007-037-062 [Ct Cl, Moriarty, III, J., Feb. 1, 2008]).

Based upon the foregoing, Defendant's pre-Answer Motion is granted and the Claim is dismissed as the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the Claim.

October 26, 2018

Albany, New York

CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were read and considered by the Court on Defendant's pre-Answer Motion to Dismiss:

Papers Numbered

Notice of Motion, Affirmation,

and Exhibit Attached 1

Filed Papers: Claim


1. Claimant labeled this document a "Notice of Claim." The Court notes that, in Court of Claims' practice, there are two documents, a Notice of Intention to File a Claim and a Claim. There is no "Notice of Claim." The Clerk's Office filed the document as a "Claim."