New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
SCOTT v. STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2021-015-104, Claim No. 129709, 130117, 130622, Motion Nos. M-97165, M-97166

Synopsis

Claimant's motion to vacate the dismissals of three claims was denied as he failed to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for failing to appear at trial or the potential merit of the claims. His motion for a change of venue was denied as moot.

Case information

UID: 2021-015-104
Claimant(s): RANDOLPH SCOTT
Claimant short name: SCOTT
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 129709, 130117, 130622
Motion number(s): M-97165, M-97166
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: Randolph Scott, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Letitia James, Attorney General
By: Belinda A. Wagner, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: November 17, 2021
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant moves to vacate dismissals of three claims (motion No. M-97165) and for a change of venue (motion No. M-97166).

Three claims (claim numbers 129709; 130117; 130622) were scheduled for trial on August 12, 2021 and August 13, 2021. After granting claimant's request that the start of trial be delayed to 11:00 a.m. to accommodate the distance he was travelling, claimant failed to appear and the claims were dismissed. Claimant contends the dismissals should be vacated because he was treated in the Erie County Medical Center on August 10, 2021 and not released until August 11, 2021. Claimant also contends the dismissals were the result of racial bias. In addition to seeking a vacatur of the dismissal, claimant requests a change of venue.

In order to vacate a dismissal entered upon default, the moving party must establish a reasonable excuse for the default and a potentially meritorious claim or defense (Matter of Shannon NN. v Tarrin OO., 194 AD3d 1138 [3d Dept 2021]; Bank of N.Y. v Mohammed, 130 AD3d 1419, 1420 [3d Dept 2015]; Loucks v Klimek, 108 AD3d 1037, 1038 [4th Dept 2013]; Watson v New York City Tr. Auth., 38 AD3d 532 [2d Dept 2007]). As noted by the Court in Puchner v Nastke (91 AD3d 1261, 1262 [3d Dept 2012]), the reasonableness of the excuse is assessed "based on all relevant factors, including the extent of the delay, whether there has been prejudice to the opposing party, whether there has been willfulness, and the strong public policy in favor of resolving cases on the merits" ([internal quotation marks and citation omitted]). "The decision of whether to vacate a default judgment lies within the sound discretion of the trial court" and will not be lightly set aside (Matter of Shannon NN. v Tarrin OO., 194 AD3d at 1138; Board of Mgrs. of Harborview Condominium v Goodman, 189 AD3d 1529 [2d Dept 2020]). With respect to the required showing of merit, the quantum of proof necessary for purposes of a motion to vacate a default is less than that which is required to prevail on a motion for summary judgment (Lai v Montes, 182 AD3d 646, 649 [3d Dept 2020]; Luderowski v Sexton, 152 AD3d 918, 920 [3d Dept 2017]).

Here, claimant failed to demonstrate both a reasonable excuse for his failure to appear at trial and the potential merit of his claims. The medical proof he submits to substantiate his assertion that he was hospitalized from August 10, 2021 through August 11, 2021 is redacted and fails to reflect his name or the nature of the treatment rendered.(1) In addition, claimant failed to in any way address the merit of his claims. Claimant's failure to demonstrate both a reasonable excuse for failing to appear for trial as well as the potential merit of his three claims requires that the motion to vacate be denied. The motion for a change of venue must also be denied as moot.

Accordingly, claimant's motions are denied.

November 17, 2021

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

M-97165

1. Motion to Vacate Dismissal dated September 3, 2021;

2. Affidavit in support sworn to September 3, 2021, with attachment;

3. Affirmation in opposition dated September 28, 2021, with Exhibit A.

M-97166

1. Undated demand for change of place of trial received September 7, 2021;

2. Affidavit in support sworn to September 3, 2021.


1. To the extent claimant asserts the dismissals of his claims were motivated by racial bias, suffice it to say the Court has not met the claimant and was, and still is, unaware of his race.