NYS Legislature Passed a “Uniform Notice of Claim Act” – June 2012
(first reported here July 23, 2012) It has not yet been publicly announced whether the Governor will sign the new act into law, but we expect that he will. The new act simplifies the way an injured party satisfies the condition precedent to suing a governmental entity, and in some cases actually extends the time for an injured party to place the governmental entity on notice.
The act amends the General Municipal Law and certain other statutes (including, for example, the Environmental Conservation Law, the Education Law and the Mental Hygiene Law) to, among other things, permit claimants to serve a notice of claim on any public corporation by delivery of the notice to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State would then be required to forward a copy to the entity or entities named in the notice of claim. Service of the notice of claim would be complete when served on the Secretary of State.
The bill would also provide for leave to be granted to serve a late notice of claim for “good faith” mistakes in serving a claim on the incorrect public entity, unless it can be demonstrated to the court that the proper public entity suffered substantial prejudice in the investigation or defense of the claim.
(Aug. 27, 2012 Update) Six days ago (Aug. 20), the Thomson-Reuters-Westlaw news outlet reported:
In the weeks since lawmakers approved the Uniform Notice of Claim Act, the state Association of Counties and the New York Conference of Mayors, which represents the state’s cities and towns, have been sending letters to [Governor] Cuomo, asking him to veto the bill. ….
Once Cuomo receives the notice of claim bill, which could happen later this month, he will have 10 business days to sign or veto it. ….
This statute, if enacted into law, might affect your next negligence action action, medical malpractice action, or your next claim for personal injuries or property damage against a municipal corporation, agency or entity.
However, the summary provisions of the bill expressly state that the bill is not intended to limit, alter, eliminate or otherwise nullify existing provisions of law relating to the service of a notice of claim, but only as a means of providing an alternative method for satisfying the condition precedent to the commencement of an action or proceeding against a public corporation.