New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
DAMIANO v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK and THE MADISON COUNTY SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT, # 2017-040-150, Claim No. 129997, Motion No. M-91034

Synopsis

State's Motion to Dismiss Claim due to lack of jurisdiction over Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District granted.

Case information

UID: 2017-040-150
Claimant(s): MARYANN DAMIANO
Claimant short name: DAMIANO
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK and THE MADISON COUNTY SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 129997
Motion number(s): M-91034
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY
Claimant's attorney: Gustave J. DeTraglia, Jr., Esq.
Defendant's attorney: ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: G. Lawrence Dillon, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: December 14, 2017
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 Claim is granted. The remainder of the Motion is denied as moot.

This Claim, which was filed with the office of the Clerk of the Court on July 20, 2017, asserts that the Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District (hereinafter, "Defendant") undertook a project, part of which was on Claimant's property, whereby Defendant attempted to decrease the erosion of the Oneida Creek as it flowed through Claimant's property, and to make other improvements in the stream bank and cut down various trees, starting in the Summer of 2015 (Claim, 5). The project consisted of placing a stone barrier to prevent the creek from eroding further onto Claimant's property, by building a bypass to allow water to flow in a different direction upon heavy rain or rising waters, as well as bringing in material to level off land west of Claimant's garage (id., 6). It is further alleged that Defendant performed its work in a negligent fashion, causing further damages to Claimant's property, causing an unsightly condition, and failed and has refused to complete the work in a workmanlike fashion (id., 7).

Defendant seeks dismissal of the Claim on the basis that the State is not the proper party Defendant in this action (Affirmation of G. Lawrence Dillon, Esq., Assistant Attorney General [hereinafter, "Dillon Affirmation"], 5). Defense counsel avers that there is no cause of action for money damages in the Court of Claims against Defendant, which is a statutory entity pursuant to Soil and Water Conservation District Law 3(1) and 9(9) (id., 6). Counsel asserts that Section 3(1) states: "District" or "soil and water conservation district" means a county whose board of supervisors has, by resolution, declared said county to be a soil and water conservation district. Said District has the power " '[t]o sue and be sued in the name of the [D]istrict' (Section 9[9])" (id., 7). Counsel further states that there is "no relationship between the State of New York and [Defendant] (see]1996 Ops Atty Gen 2006-F6 ['It is apparent that a [S]oil [and] [W]ater [C]onservation [D]istrict is a political subdivision, legally independent of the county and [the] [S]tate']") (id., 8).

Claimant has not submitted any papers in opposition to Defendant'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). This Court does not have jurisdiction over the County of Madison, its agencies or any individual employee thereof (see Whitmore v State of New York, 55 AD2d 745, 746 [3d Dept 1976], lv denied 42 NY2d 810 [1977]; DeSouza v Support Collection Unit, Child Support (UID No. 2012-040-087 [Ct Cl, McCarthy, J., Oct. 25, 2012]; Reid v State of New York, UID No. 2011-040-048, [Ct Cl, McCarthy, J., Aug. 31, 2011]; Lyons v State of New York, UID No. 2004-030-904 [Ct Cl, Scuccimarra, J., Feb. 18, 2004]; Webb v State of New York and The Administration for Children's Services (ACS), UID No. 2003-016-051 [Ct Cl, Marin, J., July 1, 2003]).

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. The remainder of the Motion is denied as moot.

December 14, 2017

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 Motion to dismiss:

Papers Numbered

Notice of Motion, Affirmation,

& Exhibit Attached 1

Filed Papers: Claim