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New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
DUDLEY v. STATE OF NEW YORK (1), # 2020-032-060, Claim No. 133996, Motion No. M-95340

Synopsis

Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is granted. The claim is untimely and the Court lacks jurisdiction over local CSEUs and actions of support magistrate in Brooklyn Family Court.

Case information

UID: 2020-032-060
Claimant(s): MAURICE DUDLEY
Claimant short name: DUDLEY
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): STATE OF NEW YORK(3)
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 133996
Motion number(s): M-95340
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: JUDITH A. HARD
Claimant's attorney: Maurice Dudley, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Hon. Letitia James, Attorney General
By: Suzette C. Merritt, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: August 3, 2020
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, proceeding pro se, filed the instant claim with the Clerk of the Court on November 18, 2019. Claimant alleges that, on April 15, 1993, claimant accumulated child support arrears in the amount of $29,373.41. Claimant alleges that the child support arrears amount is incorrect and that he actually owed only $2,314.00 in child support payments. The claim also alleges that, on March 22, 2019, a Support Magistrate in Brooklyn Family Court did not allow him to present evidence on the child support arrears. Defendant now moves to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the claim is untimely and that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the claim.

To the extent that claimant alleges errors in the calculation of his child support payments that occurred in 1993, roughly 26 years ago, these claims are untimely. "A claimant seeking to recover damages for personal injuries caused by the negligence, intentional tort or unintentional tort of an officer or employee of the State must file and serve a claim or, alternatively, a notice of intention to file such a claim, upon the Attorney General within 90 days after the accrual thereof" (Maude V. v New York State Off. of Children & Family Servs., 82 AD3d 1468, 1469 [3d Dept. 2011]; see Court of Claims Act 10 [3], [3-b]). "[A]s suits against defendant are permitted only by virtue of its waiver of sovereign immunity and are in derogation of the common law, the failure to strictly comply with the filing or service provisions of the Court of Claims Act divests the court of subject matter jurisdiction and compels dismissal of the claim" (Caci v State of New York, 107 AD3d 1121, 1122 [3d Dept. 2013] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see Finnerty v New York State Thruway Auth., 75 NY2d 721, 722-723 [1989]; Rodriguez v State of New York, 307 AD2d 657, 657 [3d Dept. 2003]).

Here, claimant served a notice of intention to file a claim upon the Attorney General on June 18, 2019. The claim was filed with the Clerk of the Court on November 18, 2019 and served upon the Attorney General on January 7, 2020. Accordingly, the claims regarding the incorrect calculation of claimant's child support arrears that accrued in 1993 are untimely and are dismissed.

Even if the abovementioned claims were timely, they would still be dismissed on defendant's alternate ground for dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is responsible for supervising the child support enforcement program in New York (see Social Services Law 111-b [1]). However, OTDA does not have a direct role in creating or maintaining child support records. That role belongs to local Child Support Enforcement Units (CSEUs) (see Ford v Dept. of Social Servs., 2011 WL 1458138, *6 [SD NY, No. 10 Civ. 3800, Mar. 22, 2011] [holding that a miscalculation of child support arrears was attributable to the local CSEU, not the State of New York]). Therefore, claimant's cause of action premised on the erroneous calculation of child support arrears cannot be asserted against the State. Rather, the claim must be asserted against the New York City CSEU, a local agency of the City of New York (see Haffner v State of New York, UID No. 2009-032-172 [Ct Cl, Hard, J., Jan. 11, 2010]).(4)

To the extent that claimant asserts a claim of wrongdoing on the part of a Support Magistrate in Brooklyn Family Court, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over such a claim. This Court has jurisdiction only to hear and decide claims that involve money damages against the State of New York or certain public authorities specified by statute (NY Const Art VI; Court of Claims Act 9). The Court of Claims has no authority to review proceedings or rulings of other courts, including Family Court (Morrison-Allen v State of New York, UID No. 2015-016-072 [Ct Cl, Marin, J., Nov. 23, 2015]); Kingston v Kings County Family Court, UID No. 2012-049-032 [Ct Cl, Weinstein, J., June 21, 2012]). Moreover, the actions of a Support Magistrate in Family Court are protected by the absolute immunity accorded to judicial and quasi-judicial activities (Race v Chautauqua Family Court, et al., UID No. 2019-053-536 [Ct Cl, Sampson, J., Aug. 30, 2019]). Accordingly, claimant's cause of action premised on the actions of a Support Magistrate in Brooklyn Family is dismissed.

Based upon the foregoing, defendant's motion to dismiss the claim (M-95340) is GRANTED and claim number 133996 is DISMISSED.

August 3, 2020

Albany, New York

JUDITH A. HARD

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Notice of Motion, dated February 14, 2020; and Affirmation in Support of Suzette Corinne Merritt, AAG, affirmed on February 14, 2020, with Exhibits A through B annexed thereto.

2. Reply to Return and Declaration in Opposition of Cross Motion to Stay and/or Grant Relief that is Required Due to Acts, signed by claimant on February 24, 2020.

3. Claimants' Addendum In Connection to His Reply to Return Tort Claim, dated March 1, 2020, with Attachments.

4. Claimants' Second Addendum to his Reply to Return Tort Claim, dated March 5, 2020, with Attachments.

5. Reply Affirmation, affirmed by Suzette Corinne Merritt, AAG on March 9, 2020.

6. Plaintiffs' Reply and/or Response to Affirmation, dated March 13, 2020, with Attachments.

7. Affirmation of Service, dated March 21, 2020, with Attachments.

8. Claimants' Affirmation of the Exact Time and Date, Notice of Intent was First Filed with the NYS Attorney General Office, undated.

9. Plaintiffs Response and Request a Stay Order Regarding the NYS Assistant Attorney General.

10. Reply Affirmation, affirmed by Suzette Corinne Merritt, AAG on June 24, 2020.


3. The Court amends the caption sua sponte to reflect the only properly named defendant.

4. In response papers, claimant attempts to assert a further cause of action alleging "embezzlement" by the New York City CSEU on February 24, 2020. Pursuant to the Uniform Rules of the Court of Claims 206.7 (b), this attempted amendment is untimely. Moreover, as stated supra, the Court lacks jurisdiction over the New York City CSEU.