Request to File Late Notice of Claim Granted in Absence of Good Reason for Delay
Over a dissent, the Second Department determined Supreme Court properly allowed plaintiff to file a late notice of claim, in the absence of a good reason for the delay. The infant plaintiff was a student who injured her finger in a door at school:
The plaintiffs demonstrated that the defendant acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within 90 days after the claim arose or within a reasonable time thereafter (see Education Law § 3813[2-a]; General Municipal Law § 50-e…). “In order to have actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim, the public corporation must have knowledge of the facts that underlie the legal theory or theories on which liability is predicated in the notice of claim; the public corporation need not have specific notice of the theory or theories themselves” … .
Before the infant plaintiff was taken to the hospital by ambulance, her teacher told her that he would give her a dollar for every stitch she had, and he later called the infant plaintiff’s home to inquire about her. During that telephone call, the teacher and the infant plaintiff’s mother allegedly discussed a door at the school… Additionally, the school nurse completed a medical claim form, detailing the accident, the injury, and the treatment provided. Under these circumstances, the defendant acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim … .
Furthermore, the defendant will not be substantially prejudiced in maintaining a defense on the merits as a result of the plaintiffs’ delay in seeking leave to serve a late notice of claim, in light of the teacher’s involvement in the incident and the nurse’s documentation of the accident and injuries … . “[T]he absence of a reasonable excuse for the delay does not bar the granting of . . . leave to serve a late notice of claim where, as here, there is actual knowledge and an absence of prejudice” … . Claud v West Babylon Union Free Sch Dist, 2013 NY Slip Op 06339, 2nd Dept 10-2-13