New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
Minunno v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, and the LONG ISLAND POWER AUTHORITY, , # 2019-059-047, Claim No. 133748

Synopsis

Case information

UID: 2019-059-047
Claimant(s): Robert Minunno, as administrator of the Estate of Rebecca Minunno, and Robert Minunno Individually
Claimant short name: Minunno
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, and the LONG ISLAND POWER AUTHORITY,
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 133748
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: MAUREEN T. LICCIONE
Claimant's attorney: DELL & DEAN, PLLC
By: Jay Massaro, Esq.
Defendant's attorney: HON. LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL
By: Robert E. Morelli, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: December 19, 2019
City: Cental Islip
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

This is a claim by the Estate of Rebecca Minnuno and Robert Minunno, individually (collectively "Claimant") for wrongful death, personal injuries and pain and suffering of the decedent and for loss of services, etc., by Robert Minunno arising from a motor vehicle accident collision with a utility pole on Mt. Sinai-Coram Road in the hamlet of Mt. Sinai, Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York. The claim alleges, inter alia, negligence on the part of the State of New York ("State"), the New York State Department of Transportation ("DOT") and the Long Island Power Authority ("LIPA") in the "ownership, operation, design, supervision, management, maintenance, renovation, [sic] repair of said roadway and utility pole" (Cl, p. 2).

The parties entered into a stipulation of discontinuance dated October 25, 2019 in which Claimant agreed to discontinue the claim against the State and the DOT. The Court now dismisses the claim against LIPA, sua sponte.

The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction, with power to hear claims against the State and certain specific entities (see Court of Claims Act 9; NY Const, art VI, 9; see also Cooper v United States Postal Serv., 150 Misc 2d 77 [Ct Cl 1991] ["As opposed to the Supreme Court of the State of New York, the New York State Court of Claims is a tribunal of special jurisdiction having only such subject matter jurisdiction as has been granted it by statute"]).

In 1986 the New York State Legislature enacted the Long Island Power Authority Act (Public Authorities Law, art 5, title 1-A, section 1020, et seq.), which created LIPA, a not-for-profit public corporation. While created by the State, public authorities such as LIPA

" 'are independent and autonomous, deliberately designed to be able to function with a freedom and flexibility not permitted to an ordinary State board, department or commission' " (Matter of Levy v City Commn. on Human Rights, 85 NY2d 740, 744 [1995], quoting Matter of Plumbing, Heating, Piping & Air Conditioning Contrs. Assn. v New York State Thruway Auth., 5 NY2d 420, 423 [1959]). The Court of Claims does not have jurisdiction over public authorities except "[i]n those instances in which the New York State Legislature has decided to confer jurisdiction . . . specifically by statute" (Cole v State of New York, 64 AD2d 1023, 1024 [4th Dept 1978]).

With respect to actions brought against LIPA, Public Authorities Law 1020-y (3) provides: "Except in an action for wrongful death, an action against the authority founded on tort shall not be commenced more than one year and ninety days after the cause of action therefor shall have accrued, nor unless a notice of claim shall have been served on the authority within the time limited by, and in compliance with all the requirements of section fifty-e of the general municipal law." The statute is silent with regard to jurisdiction of the Court of Claims (compare Public Authorities Law 361-b [New York State Thruway Authority]; Public Authorities Law 2622 [4] [Olympic Regional Development Authority]). However, without an express grant of jurisdiction to the Court of Claims in the legislation governing LIPA, it is subject to suit only in a court of general jurisdiction (see Douglas v State of New York, UID No. 2010-030-505, [Ct Cl, Scuccimarra, J. Jan. 6, 2010] [Court of Claims lacked jurisdiction over Battery Park City Authority, as governing statute did not provide for such jurisdiction, and fact that authority is subject to General Mun. Law 50-e is "indicative of Legislative intent that Supreme Court be the forum for suit"]).

In view of the foregoing, the claim against LIPA is dismissed with prejudice and Claim No. 133748 is dismissed.

December 19, 2019

Cental Islip , New York

MAUREEN T. LICCIONE

Judge of the Court of Claims