New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BOLAND v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-050-063, Claim No. 131450, Motion No. M-92411

Synopsis

Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is granted. Pro Se claimant did not oppose the motion. The claim herein alleged that various individuals and entities of the State of New York misled claimant regarding financial assistance for her mortgage payments on her home that was damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

Case information

UID: 2018-050-063
Claimant(s): PHYLLIS BOLAND
Claimant short name: BOLAND
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) : The caption has been amended sua sponte to reflect the only proper defendant, the State of New York.
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 131450
Motion number(s): M-92411
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: STEPHEN J. LYNCH
Claimant's attorney: Phyllis Boland, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Hon. Barbara D. Underwood, Attorney General
By: Robert E. Morelli, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: November 28, 2018
City: Hauppauge
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant moves to dismiss the claim herein pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (2), (7), (8) and Court of Claims Act 8, 9, 10 and 11. Claimant, proceeding pro se, does not oppose the motion.

The claim alleges that various individuals and entities of the State of New York misled claimant regarding financial assistance for her mortgage payments on her home that was damaged in Superstorm Sandy. Specifically, she alleges that she "fought very hard to get into the [S]tate's rebuild program" under the Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC) and was told she would receive mortgage reimbursement funds from the Interim Mortgage Assistance (IMA) program while her house was rebuilt, but that the program ended before she was able to begin rebuilding. She alleges that her early termination from the IMA program caused her undue hardship and at least $8,214 as compensation and asserts that her claim is against the following defendants: the State of New York, Government Office of Storm Recovery [sic], New York Rising, IMA, and various individuals.

Defendant argues that claimant's alleged cause of action arises out of her interactions with entities and individuals that are not subject to Court of Claims jurisdiction. As previously noted, claimant's main grievance concerns the early termination from the IMA program, which is a federally funded program administered by the HTFC and its subsidiary, New York Rising.

The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction, with authority to hear claims against the State of New York and certain public authorities (see Court of Claims Act 9; NY Const, art VI, 9). "Where the State Legislature has decided to confer on the Court of Claims jurisdiction over public authorities, it has done so specifically by statute; the absence of such a provision in the enabling legislation indicates that jurisdiction lies with courts of general jurisdiction" (Gembala v Audubon Assn., 97 AD2d 345 [3d Dept 1983]; Plath v New York State Olympic Regional Development Auth., 304 AD2d 885 [3d Dept 2003]). The HTFC is a public benefit corporation created pursuant to statute (see 9 NYCRR 1900.2) and New York Rising is a subsidiary of the HTFC. The statute creating the HTFC is silent with regard to whether the Court of Claims has jurisdiction over the HTFC. Thus, the Court of Claims does not have jurisdiction to hear claims brought against HTFC or its subsidiary, New York Rising (Scholer v State of New York, UID No. 2016-045-011 [Ct Cl, Lopez-Summa, J., April 29, 2016]). Similarly, the Court of Claims does not have jurisdiction over the IMA or the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery or any individual employee of the named government entities. Thus, the only defendant named in the claim over which this Court may have jurisdiction is the State of New York.

The Court of Appeals has repeatedly held that "[b]ecause suits against the State are allowed only by the State's waiver of sovereign immunity and in derogation of the common law, statutory requirements conditioning suit must be strictly construed" (Matter of New York City Asbestos Litig., 24 NY3d 275 [2014], citing Kolnacki v State of New York, 8 NY3d 277 [2007]). Court of Claims Act 11 (b) provides 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." The purpose behind the specificity of pleading required by CCA 11(b) is "to enable the State . . . to investigate the claim[s] promptly and to ascertain its liability under the circumstances" (Lepowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201 [2003], quoting Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d 767 [4th Dept 1980]). Further, "the State is not required to go beyond a claim or notice of intention in order to investigate an occurrence or ascertain information which should be provided pursuant to Court of Claims Act 11" (Hargrove v State of New York, 138 AD3d 777 [2d Dept 2016], citation omitted). Any failure to comply with the strict pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act 11(b) is "a jurisdictional defect compelling the dismissal of the claim" (Welch v State of New York, 286 AD2d 496 [2d Dept 2001]).

Here, the claim fails to allege any specific act or omission for which the State could be held liable and the Court of Claims Act "does not require the State 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]). In sum, claimant's allegations concern only acts or omissions by individuals or State entities over which this Court lacks jurisdiction.

For the foregoing reasons, defendant's unopposed motion to dismiss is granted and the claim is dismissed.

November 28, 2018

Hauppauge, New York

STEPHEN J. LYNCH

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were read and considered by the Court on the defendant's motion to dismiss:

1. Notice of Motion, Affirmation in Support with Exhibits.