Claim seeking money damages for unemployment insurance benefits dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Proper forum for review of denial of such benefits is direct appeal to the Appellate Division in accordance with Labor Law § 624.
|Claimant short name:||BLACK|
|Footnote (claimant name) :|
|Defendant(s):||NYS DOL UNEMPLOYMENT APPEALS DIVISION LINDA GEORGE, ESQ. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL|
|Footnote (defendant name) :|
|Judge:||W. BROOKS DeBOW|
|Claimant's attorney:||SYLVIA BLACK, Pro se|
|Defendant's attorney:||ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General
of the State of New York
By: Anthony Rotondi, Assistant Attorney General
|Third-party defendant's attorney:|
|Signature date:||January 4, 2018|
|See also (multicaptioned case)|
Claimant, proceeding pro se, filed this claim seeking $5,278 in unemployment insurance benefits that were denied to her by the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Defendant moves to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the Court lacks jurisdiction and the claim fails to state a cause of action. Claimant opposes the motion.
The claim alleges as follows:
"I was denied unemployment on all 3 appeals due to the alleged misconduct deemed by Key Bank my former employer. Recently I received an answer with regard to my 3rd appeal sent to NYS Supreme Court. dated 5/4/17. [sic] Assistant Attorney General upheld the NYSDOL unemployment appeal division's decision to deny my unemployment. I have since worked and broke the disqualification and still was unable to collect my unemployment. . . . I sued my former employer Key Bank for Wrongful [t]ermination and won (see attachments) therefore the alleged misconduct that I was accused of has been deemed unconscionable and cannot be admitted as evidence against me. In addition Key Bank changed their basis for my termination and that's how they won the appeal. Therefore I am suing for my $5,278 of unemployment that I claimed for 6 months back early 2016 and did not get due to alleged misconduct. I sued my former employer Key Bank for Wrongful [t]ermination and won the case. Key bank [sic] paid me a settlement and the case was settled, key bank [sic] was deemed guilty and I have been exonerated of all allegations. Therefore I am entitled to my back unemployment of $5,278."
(Claim number 129715, ¶ 2). The claim seeks damages in the amount of the unemployment insurance benefits that were denied.
Defendant argues that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claim because claimant's "sole avenue of redress [for the determination to deny her unemployment insurance benefits] is an appeal to the Appellate Division Third Department [pursuant to Labor Law § 624]" (Rotondi Affirmation, ¶¶ 5-10). In reply, claimant does not address defendant's jurisdictional arguments, and instead argues the merits of the claim and contests the authority of the Office of the Attorney General to represent the New York State Department of Labor.(1)
Defendant's motion will be granted. Although the Court of Claims has the subject matter jurisdiction to hear claims for money damages against the State of New York, and this claim seeks money damages against the State, the claim clearly seeks to review the determination of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board to deny claimant unemployment insurance benefits, which is subject to review exclusively in the Appellate Division, Third Department (see Labor Law § 524, 526). Indeed, it appears that claimant appealed at least one of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board determinations disqualifying her from receiving benefits to the Appellate Division, Third Department, which was affirmed on appeal (Matter of Black (Commissioner of Labor), 153 AD3d 1008 [3d Dept 2017]; Rotondi Affirmation, Exhibit A [Respondent's Brief in Matter of Black, dated 5/4/17]). "Claimant's dissatisfaction with the Appeal Board's [denial of her claims are] properly addressed through an appeal to the Appellate Division, Third Department and not the filing of a claim for money damages in this Court. It is obvious that the Court of Claims lacks subject matter jurisdiction to undertake a review of the administrative actions giving rise to the claim" (Prowse v State of New York, UID No. 2002-015-301 [Ct Cl, Collins, J., Oct. 25, 2002]; see Saffioti v State of New York, 36 AD2d 666 [3d Dept 1971] [exclusive procedure for seeking review of denials of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board is set forth in Labor Law §§ 626, 623, 624]; Babitch v State of New York, UID No. 2005-032-016 [Ct Cl, Hard, J., Feb. 23, 2005]; Sullivan v State of New York, UID No. 2002-028-027 [Ct Cl, Sise, J., May 3, 2002]; see also Lublin v State of New York, 135 Misc2d 419, 420 [Ct Cl 1987], aff'd 135 AD2d 1155 [1st Dept 1987], lv denied 71 NY2d 802  ["where statutes provide a method of adjudications by administrative agencies, they must be followed" and "collateral review may not be sought under the guise of money damages"]).
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED, that defendant's motion number M-90830 is GRANTED, and claim number 129715 is DISMISSED.
January 4, 2018
Saratoga Springs, New York
W. BROOKS DeBOW
Judge of the Court of Claims
(1) Claim number 129715, filed May 15, 2017;
(2) Verified Answer, filed June 22, 2017;
(3) Notice of Motion, dated July 28, 2017;
(4) Affirmation of Anthony Rotondi, AAG, dated July 28, 2017, with Exhibits A-B;
(5) Opposition of Sylvia Black to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, filed September 5, 2017;
(6) "So Ordered" Correspondence of the Hon. W. Brooks DeBow, Judge of the Court of Claims,
dated August 15, 2017.
1. At a Court conference on August 15, 2017, claimant sought and received confirmation from the Assistant Attorney General defending the claim that he represented the Department of Labor and it was explained to claimant that the Court of Claims lacks jurisdiction over individuals and agencies, but has jurisdiction over the State of New York (see "So Ordered" Correspondence, dated August 15, 2017).