New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
MERCER v. CITY OF KINGSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, OFFICERS B. LOWE AND HOTALING AND THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-032-036, Claim No. 124574, Motion Nos. M-91627, M-92301

Synopsis

Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is granted. The Court lacks jurisdiction over officers of the Kingston Police Department, and the claim fails to allege any wrongdoing by the State of New York.

Case information

UID: 2018-032-036
Claimant(s): ARTHUR L. MERCER and HEIDI JUNQUET
Claimant short name: MERCER
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): CITY OF KINGSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, OFFICERS B. LOWE AND HOTALING AND THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 124574
Motion number(s): M-91627, M-92301
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: JUDITH A. HARD
Claimant's attorney: Arthur Mercer, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Hon. Barbara D. Underwood, Attorney General
By: Glenn C. King, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: June 25, 2018
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The instant claim was filed on June 25, 2014 alleging damages stemming from an allegedly illegal and unconstitutional traffic stop conducted by police officers of the Kingston Police Department that resulted in claimant Arthur L. Mercer's wrongful confinement, and a derivative claim by Heidi Junquet. Defendant, State of New York, now moves to dismiss the claim pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (7) on the ground that the claim fails to state a cause of action against the State of New York. Claimants oppose the motion.

Defendant argues that the claim fails to allege any wrongdoing by the State of New York. The Court agrees. The claim alleges that claimants' vehicle was illegally stopped and searched by officers of the Kingston Police Department and that Mr. Mercer was incarcerated as a result of the stop (see Verified Claim). No state actors are mentioned in the claim.

The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction with the power to hear claims against the State of New York for the torts of its officers or employees (see NY Const Art VI; Court of Claims Act 9). Insofar as the claim alleges wrongdoing only against officers of the Kingston Police Department, the claim must be dismissed as members of a municipal police department are not State actors for whose tortious conduct the State may be held liable (Whitmore v State of New York, 55 AD2d 745, 746 [3d Dept. 1976]), lv denied 42 NY2d 810; Herbin v NYPD P.O. Albert Castillo, et al., UID No. 2017-053-526 [Ct Cl, Sampson, J., July 13, 2017]; Irvine v State of New York, UID No. 2015-018-628 [Ct Cl, Fitzpatrick, J., July 1, 2015]). As the claim fails to allege any wrongdoing by the State of New York, the Court finds that the claim fails to state a cause of action against defendant (see Carpenter v State of New York, UID No. 2015-045-016 [Ct Cl, Lopez-Summa, J., May 20, 2015]).

Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED that defendant's motion (M-91627) is granted; and it is further

ORDERED that claim number 124574 is dismissed; and it is further

ORDERED that claimant's motion (M-92301) is dismissed as moot.

June 25, 2018

Albany, New York

JUDITH A. HARD

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Notice of Motion to Dismiss, dated January 4, 2018; and Affirmation in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, affirmed by Glenn C. King, AAG on January 4, 2018, with Exhibit A annexed thereto.

2. Notice of Motion in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss, sworn to by Mr. Mercer on January 18, 2018; and Affirmation in Support of Opposition, sworn to by Arthur Mercer on January 18, 2018.

3. Affirmation in Further Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, affirmed by Glenn C. King, AAG on February 16, 2018.

4. Affirmation in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, sworn to by Arthur Mercer on February 28, 2018; and Affirmation in Support of Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, sworn to by Arthur Mercer on February 28, 2018.