New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
REID v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2020-045-041, Claim No. 134336, Motion No. M-95425

Synopsis

Defendant's motion to dismiss claim which took place within Nassau County District Courthouse.

Case information

UID: 2020-045-041
Claimant(s): HYACINTH REID
Claimant short name: REID
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) : The caption has been amended, sua sponte, to reflect the State of New York as the proper defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 134336
Motion number(s): M-95425
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: Gina M. Lopez-Summa
Claimant's attorney: Monteleone & Siegel, PLLC.
By: Jarad L. Siegel, Esq.
Defendant's attorney: Hon. Letitia James, Attorney General
By: John L. Belford, IV, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: July 21, 2020
City: Hauppauge
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The following papers were read and considered by the Court on this motion: Defendant's Notice of Motion, Defendant's Affirmation in Support with annexed Exhibit A-B, Defendant's Memorandum of Law; Claimant's Affirmation in Opposition with annexed Exhibit A-C and Defendant's Reply Affirmation.

Defendant, the State of New York, has brought this motion to dismiss the claim pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) 3211 (a) (7). Claimant opposes the motion.

On a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (7), the court is required to "accept the facts as alleged in the [claim] as true, accord [claimant] the benefit of every possible favorable inference, and determine only whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory" (Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87-88 [1994]). The review entails "whether the proponent of the pleading has a cause of action, not whether he has stated one" (id. at 88).

Claimant, Hyacinth Reid, alleges that on February 18, 2018 at approximately 1:00 p.m. she was injured when she was electrocuted by a faulty light switch in Room L88 at the Nassau County District Courthouse in Hempstead, New York.

Defendant argues the claim should be dismissed since claimant cannot show that defendant owed a duty of care to him, that defendant breached a duty owed under Judiciary Law 39-b (2) or that the light switch at issue is within the defendant's ownership, control or maintenance jurisdiction. Defendant provided an affidavit from Paul Lamanna, District Executive, 10th Judicial District, Nassau County. Mr. Lamanna is employed by the New York State Unified Court System. He stated that defendant did not own, operate, control or maintain the light switch in Room L88 in the Nassau County District Courthouse prior to or on the date of the accident. He also affirmed that defendant was not responsible for inspecting, managing or maintaining any of the light switches in the Courthouse prior to or on the date of the accident.

By virtue of the Unified Court Budget Act of 1976, defendant assumed control over the court system's budget, however the localities retained responsibility for maintaining all court facilities in their jurisdictions which they previously financed and furnished (Matter of Drew v Schenectady County, 88 NY2d 242 [1996]). Judiciary Law 39-b (2), provides in pertinent part that defendant's only responsibility shall be for the cleaning of court facilities. The term cleaning of court facilities includes all services and activities necessary to ensure the courthouse is and remains a clean and healthful environment in which to transact the business of the Unified Court System. These activities include, but are not limited to: removal of trash; maintenance of appropriate standards of hygiene; painting; pest control; replacement of consumable materials such as light bulbs, soap, toilet paper and paper toweling. They should also include the making of minor repairs in accordance with the rules of the chief judge (Judiciary Law 39-b [1] [b]).

The claim fails to implicate defendant's limited responsibilities in regard to court facilities. Claimant's arguments regarding warning signs placed by defendant are without merit.

Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.

July 21, 2020

Hauppauge, New York

Gina M. Lopez-Summa

Judge of the Court of Claims