The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that the petition for leave to amend the notice of claim against the town in this pedestrian-vehicle traffic accident case should not have been granted. The infant petitioner was struck by a car crossing a road. The proposed amendment would have alleged a town park ranger waved the family across just before the child was struck. Because the request to amend was made more than a year and 90 days after the accident, the request was untimely for the derivative action by the parents, but the statute of limitations was tolled for the infant petitioner. The Second Department went on to find that petitioners did not demonstrate the town had timely knowledge of the the allegation the family was waved across the street by a town employee, even though the allegation was memorialized in a Suffolk County police report:
… [T]he petitioners failed to establish that the Town acquired actual knowledge, within 90 days of the collision or a reasonable time thereafter, of the essential facts constituting the claim that the Town park ranger waved to the family to cross the highway. It is not alleged that the child was struck by a Town vehicle or a Town employee. In addition, Magwood’s [mother’s] testimony at her hearing held pursuant to General Municipal Law § 50-h did not indicate that a Town park ranger waved to the family to cross the highway. Although several witnesses to the collision gave a statement to the effect that the Town park ranger waved to the family to cross the highway, these statements were made to Suffolk County Police Department (hereinafter SCPD) personnel and memorialized in SCPD reports… . Further, while the Town park ranger prepared a Town Division of Enforcement and Security Public Safety report on the date of the collision, that report did not indicate that the Town park ranger waved to the family to cross the highway. ” [F]or a report to provide actual knowledge of the essential facts, one must be able to readily infer from that report that a potentially actionable wrong had been committed by the public corporation'” … . The Town park ranger’s report did not support a ready inference that the Town committed a potentially actionable wrong … .
Moreover, the petitioners failed to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for the failure to serve a timely notice of claim asserting the theory that the Town park ranger waved to the family to cross the highway and for the subsequent delay in filing this petition… . Although the petitioners satisfied their initial burden of showing a lack of substantial prejudice to the Town as a result of the late notice, and the Town failed to make a “particularized showing” of substantial prejudice … , the presence or absence of any one factor is not necessarily determinative in deciding whether permission to serve a late notice of claim should be granted … . Matter of Johnson v County of Suffolk, 2018 NY Slip Op 08482, Second Dept 12-12-18