New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
PEARSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-041-069, Claim No. 130709, Motion No. M-92404

Synopsis

Claim challenging determination of the New York State Department of Civil Service in "preventing" claimant from taking a civil service examination is dismissed based upon a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Case information

UID: 2018-041-069
Claimant(s): MARCIA PEARSON
Claimant short name: PEARSON
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) : The caption is amended to state the proper defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 130709
Motion number(s): M-92404
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANK P. MILANO
Claimant's attorney: MARCIA PEARSON
Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. BARBARA D. UNDERWOOD
New York State Attorney General
By: Anthony Rotondi, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: October 26, 2018
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant moves to dismiss the claim because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the substance of the claim.

The claim essentially alleges that the policies, rules and regulations of the New York State Department of Civil Service denied claimant "a possible career advancement opportunity" by "preventing [claimant] from taking an Information Techonology Specialist III examination." The claim makes no demand for a specific amount of damages, instead stating that damages are "negotiable."

The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claim because the claim seeks to have the Court review the administrative actions or inactions of a state agency.

The jurisdiction of the Court of Claims is invoked where money damages are the essential object of the claim, unlike an instance where the principal claim is equitable in nature (such as to review action or inaction by a state agency), with monetary relief being incidental to the principal claim (see Harvard Fin. Servs. v State of New York, 266 AD2d 685, 685 [3d Dept 1999]; Matter of Gross v Perales, 72 NY2d 231, 236 [1988]).

In City of New York v State of New York (46 AD3d 1168, 1169-1170 [3d Dept 2007], lv denied 10 NY3d 705 [2008]), the court explains that:

"Two inquiries must be made to determine if the Court of Claims has subject matter jurisdiction. As that court has 'no jurisdiction to grant strictly equitable relief' (Psaty v Duryea, 306 NY 413, 416 [1954]), but may grant incidental equitable relief so long as the primary claim seeks to recover money damages in appropriation, contract or tort cases (see Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home v State of New York, 241 AD2d 670, 671 [1997]), 'the threshold question is "[w]hether the essential nature of the claim is to recover money, or whether the monetary relief is incidental to the primary claim"' (Madura v State of New York, 12 AD3d 759, 760 [2004], lv denied 4 NY3d 704 [2005], quoting Matter of Gross v Perales, 72 NY2d 231, 236 [1988]). The second inquiry, regardless of how a claimant categorizes a claim, is whether the claim would require review of an administrative agency's determination--which the Court of Claims has no subject matter jurisdiction to entertain (see Hoffman v State of New York, 42 AD3d 641, 642 [2007]), as review of such determinations are properly brought only in Supreme Court in a CPLR article 78 proceeding (see Matter of Scherbyn v Wayne-Finger Lakes Bd. of Coop. Educ. Servs., 77 NY2d 753, 757 [1991])."

In order for the Court to award claimant damages in this action, it would necessarily be required to review the administrative policies, rules, regulations and determinations of the Department of Civil Service which, as set forth above, it lacks jurisdiction to do (see Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v State of New York,, 86 AD3d 820 [3d Dept 2011]; Madura v State of New York, 12 AD3d 759 [3d Dept 2004], lv denied 4 NY3d 704 [2005]).

Claimant's request for permission to amend her claim is denied. It is well-settled that "a jurisdictionally defective claim cannot be cured through an amendment" (Hogan v State of New York, 59 AD3d 754, 755 [3d Dept 2009]; see Matter of Morris v State Tax Commr., 140 AD2d 864 [3d Dept 1988]; Grande v State of New York, 160 Misc 2d 383, 387 [Ct Cl 1994]).

The defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is granted. The claim is dismissed.

October 26, 2018

Albany, New York

FRANK P. MILANO

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Defendant's Notice of Motion to Dismiss, filed June 13, 2018;

2. Affirmation of Anthony Rotondi, dated June 13, 2018, and attached exhibits;

3. Unsworn submission of Marcia Pearson, dated July 1, 2018, and attached exhibits.