New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BOTFELD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-054-071, Claim No. 131255, Motion No. M-92246

Synopsis

State's pre-answer motion to dismiss is gratned, Hudson Rivera Park Trust not a proper party defendant.

Case information

UID: 2018-054-071
Claimant(s): SUSANNE BOTFELD
Claimant short name: BOTFELD
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 131255
Motion number(s): M-92246
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: WALTER RIVERA
Claimant's attorney: SILBOWITZ, GARAFOLA, SILBOWITZ, SCHATZ & FREDERICK, LLP
By: Howard Schatz, Esq.
Defendant's attorney: HON. BARBARA D. UNDERWOOD
Attorney General for the State of New York
By: Lawrence E. Kozar, Assistant Attorney General
Cheryl Rameau, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: August 30, 2018
City: White Plains
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The following papers numbered 1-3 were read and considered by the Court on the State's pre-answer motion to dismiss:

Notice of Motion, Attorney's Supporting Affirmation.............................................1

Affirmation in Opposition and Exhibit.....................................................................2

Reply Affirmation and Exhibit.................................................................................3

Claim No. 131255 alleges that on May 24, 2016, claimant was injured while at the Pier 51 Comfort Station located within the Hudson River Park at 503 West Street in the County, City and State of New York, when a stall door in the women's bathroom fell and struck claimant. The claim is brought against the State of New York and alleges that the accident occurred due to the negligence of the City of New York, Hudson River Park Trust, Friends of Hudson River Park and Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The State brings this pre-answer motion to dismiss the claim on the ground that the Hudson River Park Trust is the proper party defendant because, despite the State's ownership of the property, the Hudson River Park Trust is charged with the operation and maintenance of the area and this Court lacks jurisdiction over the Hudson River Park Trust.

In support of its motion, defendant submits the affidavit of Bruce F. Davis, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management for the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) (Reply, Ex. A). The Bureau of Land Management has the responsibility of determining boundaries of State-owned lands and Davis' responsibilities include reviewing documents affecting ownership of State-owned lands. According to Davis:

"[b]ased upon my review of the files and records maintained by OGS and pursuant to the provisions of the Hudson River Park Act, I have concluded that the State of New York does not and did not on the date of the accident, May 24, 2016, operate, manage or maintain the property or Comfort Station at Pier 51, in the Hudson River Park, in the County, City and State of New York . . . [t]herefore, the State of New York should not be held responsible for the subject claim"

(id.).

The Court finds that defendant has established entitlement to a dismissal of the claim on the ground that the State is not a proper party defendant; rather the Hudson River Park Trust is the proper party defendant and this Court does not have jurisdiction over the Hudson River Park Trust (see Costa v State of New York, 141 AD3d 43 [1st Dept 2016]).

Accordingly, defendant's motion to dismiss is hereby GRANTED.

August 30, 2018

White Plains, New York

WALTER RIVERA

Judge of the Court of Claims