The Fourth Department, over a two-justice dissent, determined that an action against the state alleging recurrent flooding of plaintiffs’ property was properly in Supreme Court, despite the statutory requirement that claims against the state for monetary damages be brought in the Court of Claims. The Fourth Department held that the state did not demonstrate that the essential nature of the claim was to recover money. The Fourth Department further determined that the cause of action for inverse condemnation was properly dismissed, explaining the criteria:
Contrary to defendant’s contention, the court properly denied that part of its cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing all claims for money damages. Although defendant is correct that ” claims that are primarily against the State for damages must be brought in the Court of Claims, the Supreme Court may consider a claim for injunctive relief as long as the claim is not primarily for damages’ ” (… see Court of Claims Act § 9 ). “Whether the essential nature of the claim is to recover money, or whether the monetary relief is incidental to the primary claim, is dependent upon the facts and issues presented in a particular case” … . Here, defendant failed to establish in support of its cross motion that the essential nature of the causes of action for negligence, continuing nuisance, and continuing trespass is to recover money damages, and thus the court properly declined to grant summary judgment dismissing those causes of action.
We agree, however, with the further contention of defendant that the court erred in denying that part of its cross motion seeking summary judgment dismissing the cause of action for inverse condemnation, and we therefore modify the order accordingly. That cause of action alleged that the flooding intruded onto plaintiffs’ properties and interfered with their property rights to such an extent that it constituted “a constitutional taking requiring [defendant] to purchase the properties from plaintiffs.” It is well settled that such a “taking can consist of either a permanent ouster of the owner, or a permanent interference with the owner’s physical use, possession, and enjoyment of the property, by one having condemnation powers” … . “In order to constitute a permanent ouster, defendant[‘s] conduct must constitute a permanent physical occupation of plaintiff’s property amounting to exercise of dominion and control thereof’ ” … .
Here, defendant met its burden on its cross motion with respect to the cause of action for inverse condemnation by establishing as a matter of law that any interference with plaintiffs’ property rights was not sufficiently permanent to constitute a de facto taking … . Greece Ridge, LLC v State of New York, 2015 NY Slip Op 06072, 4th Dept 7-10-15