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Alvarez v. N.Y.C. Hous. Auth.

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.
Jul 11, 2012
97 A.D.3d 668 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012)

Opinion

2012-07-11

In the Matter of Carmen ALVAREZ, respondent, v. NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY, appellant.

Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, New York, N.Y. (Patrick J. Lawless and Richard E. Lerner of counsel), for appellant. Richard J. Katz, LLP, New York, N.Y. (Jonathan A. Rapport of counsel), for respondent.



Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, New York, N.Y. (Patrick J. Lawless and Richard E. Lerner of counsel), for appellant. Richard J. Katz, LLP, New York, N.Y. (Jonathan A. Rapport of counsel), for respondent.
REINALDO E. RIVERA, J.P., RANDALL T. ENG, CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, SANDRA L. SGROI, and ROBERT J. MILLER, JJ.

In a proceeding pursuant to General Municipal Law § 50–e(5) for leave to serve a late notice of claim, the New York City Housing Authority appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Kings County (F. Rivera, J.), dated April 1, 2011, which granted the petition.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law and in the exercise of discretion, with costs, and the petition is denied.

A petition for leave to serve a late notice of claim upon a public authority may not be made more than one year and 90 days after the happening of the event upon which the claim is based, unless the statute has been tolled ( seeGeneral Municipal Law § 50–e[5]; § 50–i[1]; Pierson v. City of New York, 56 N.Y.2d 950, 954, 453 N.Y.S.2d 615, 439 N.E.2d 331;Cohen v. Pearl Riv. Union Free School Dist., 51 N.Y.2d 256, 262–263, 434 N.Y.S.2d 138, 414 N.E.2d 639). It is uncontroverted that the petitioner timely commenced this proceeding by filing an order to show cause and petition with the Kings County Clerk within one year and 90 days after the claim accrued ( seeCPLR 304[a], [c]; 306–a[a]; Matter of Joy v. County of Suffolk, 89 A.D.3d 1025, 933 N.Y.S.2d 369;Shister v. City of New York, 309 A.D.2d 915, 916, 766 N.Y.S.2d 109;Benejan v. New York City Tr. Auth., 306 A.D.2d 1, 2, 759 N.Y.S.2d 655). The appellant contends, however, that the petition was untimely because it was made at the same time that the appellant was served with the order to show cause, more than one year and 90 days after the claim accrued. Even if the present petition was not made until the appellant was served with the order to show cause ( seeCPLR 2211 [“A motion on notice is made when a notice of the motion or an order to show cause is served”] ), the statute of limitations was tolled from the time the proceeding was commenced by the filing of the petition until the subsequent order was entered deciding the petition ( see Giblin v. Nassau County Med. Ctr., 61 N.Y.2d 67, 74, 471 N.Y.S.2d 563, 459 N.E.2d 856; Ambrus v. City of New York, 87 A.D.3d 341, 352, 928 N.Y.S.2d 719;Shister v. City of New York, 309 A.D.2d at 916, 766 N.Y.S.2d 109;Cruz v. City of New York, 302 A.D.2d 553, 755 N.Y.S.2d 416) and, thus, the petition was timely made ( see Shister v. City of New York, 309 A.D.2d at 916, 766 N.Y.S.2d 109;Benejan v. New York City Tr. Auth., 306 A.D.2d at 2, 759 N.Y.S.2d 655). Accordingly, the Supreme Court had the authority to decide the petition for leave to serve a late notice of claim ( see Cohen v. Pearl Riv. Union Free School Dist., 51 N.Y.2d at 266, 434 N.Y.S.2d 138, 414 N.E.2d 639;Matter of Joy v. County of Suffolk, 89 A.D.3d at 1026, 933 N.Y.S.2d 369;cf. Pierson v. City of New York, 56 N.Y.2d at 955–956, 453 N.Y.S.2d 615, 439 N.E.2d 331). Turning to the merits of the petition, however, we find that the court improvidently exercised its discretion in granting the petition.

In determining whether leave to serve a late notice of claim should be granted, the court should consider, as key factors, whether the public authority acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within 90 days of its accrual or within a reasonable time thereafter, whether the delay substantially prejudiced the public authority in maintaining its defense on the merits, and whether the petitioner demonstrated a reasonable excuse for failing to serve a timely notice of claim ( seeGeneral Municipal Law § 50–e[5]; Public Housing Law § 157[2]; Matter of Kalambalikis v. New York City Hous. Auth., 41 A.D.3d 848, 839 N.Y.S.2d 182;Matter of White v. New York City Hous. Auth., 38 A.D.3d 675, 676, 831 N.Y.S.2d 515;Matter of Welch v. New York City Hous. Auth., 7 A.D.3d 805, 776 N.Y.S.2d 876). A factor that should be accorded great weight is whether the public authority acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within 90 days of the accrual of the claim or within a reasonable time thereafter ( see Argueta v. New York City Health & Hosps. Corp. [Coney Is. Hosp.], 74 A.D.3d 713, 905 N.Y.S.2d 611;Matter of Gonzalez v. City of New York, 60 A.D.3d 1058, 1059, 876 N.Y.S.2d 139;Matter of Felice v. Eastport/South Manor Cent. School Dist., 50 A.D.3d 138, 147, 851 N.Y.S.2d 218).

Here, the petitioner failed to establish that the appellant acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within 90 days of the incident or a reasonable time thereafter ( see Williams v. Nassau County Med. Ctr., 6 N.Y.3d 531, 814 N.Y.S.2d 580, 847 N.E.2d 1154). The petitioner's bare and conclusory allegation that she first reported the incident to the appellant at an unspecified time shortly after her release from the hospital was insufficient to sustain her burden ( see Washington v. City of New York, 72 N.Y.2d 881, 883, 532 N.Y.S.2d 361, 528 N.E.2d 513;Matter of Bruzzese v. City of New York, 34 A.D.3d 577, 578, 824 N.Y.S.2d 653;Matter of Mrak v. City of New York, 192 A.D.2d 608, 609, 595 N.Y.S.2d 831;Matter of Perry v. City of New York, 133 A.D.2d 692, 693, 519 N.Y.S.2d 862). Furthermore, the occurrence report that the petitioner subsequently filed with the appellant 5 1/2 months after the incident did not provide the appellant with timely, actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting her present claim that her injury was caused by the appellant's negligence ( see Matter of Werner v. Nyack Union Free School Dist., 76 A.D.3d 1026, 1027, 908 N.Y.S.2d 103;Matter of Felice v. Eastport/South Manor Cent. School Dist., 50 A.D.3d at 148, 851 N.Y.S.2d 218;Matter of Carpenter v. City of New York, 30 A.D.3d 594, 595, 817 N.Y.S.2d 155;Matter of Guiliano v. Town of Oyster Bay, 244 A.D.2d 408, 664 N.Y.S.2d 314). In addition, the petitioner failed to demonstrate that the delay in commencing this proceeding almost one year and 90 days after the occurrence of the incident will not substantially prejudice the appellant in maintaining its defense on the merits ( see Matter of Gobardhan v. City of New York, 64 A.D.3d 705, 882 N.Y.S.2d 692;Matter of Doyle v. Elwood Union Free School Dist., 39 A.D.3d 544, 545–546, 833 N.Y.S.2d 204;Matter of White v. New York City Hous. Auth., 38 A.D.3d 675, 831 N.Y.S.2d 515).

Moreover, the petitioner failed to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for her delay in retaining an attorney ( see Matter of Landa v. City of New York, 252 A.D.2d 525, 526, 675 N.Y.S.2d 377;Matter of Nunes v. City of New York, 233 A.D.2d 399, 400, 650 N.Y.S.2d 16;Ribeiro v. Town of N. Hempstead, 200 A.D.2d 730, 730–731, 607 N.Y.S.2d 108), or for her attorney's inordinate delay after he was retained in seeking leave to serve the late notice of claim ( see Matter of Hill v. New York City Tr. Auth., 68 A.D.3d 866, 867, 890 N.Y.S.2d 627;Matter of Smith v. Baldwin Union Free School Dist., 63 A.D.3d 1078, 1079, 881 N.Y.S.2d 488;Matter of Baglivi v. Town of Southold, 301 A.D.2d 597, 598, 754 N.Y.S.2d 43).


Summaries of

Alvarez v. N.Y.C. Hous. Auth.

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.
Jul 11, 2012
97 A.D.3d 668 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012)
Case details for

Alvarez v. N.Y.C. Hous. Auth.

Case Details

Full title:In the Matter of Carmen ALVAREZ, respondent, v. NEW YORK CITY HOUSING…

Court:Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Date published: Jul 11, 2012

Citations

97 A.D.3d 668 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012)
948 N.Y.S.2d 648
2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 5515

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