The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined that petitioner’s motion to serve a late notice of claim should have been granted. Petitioner, a medical technician, alleged she was struck by an inmate in the custody of the Department of Correction (DOC) while the inmate was being treated at Bellevue Hospital. The petitioner reported and discussed the incident with a DOC captain (Obigumeda) on the day it happened and sought to file the notice of claim seven months late:
Supreme Court presumably agreed with respondent’s argument that it lacked notice because petitioner never specified that she had told Obigumeda the manner in which DOC was negligent (namely, by failing to ensure that a correction officer was present when she spoke with the inmate). We disagree.
To the extent that petitioner did not establish actual notice because she did not specify that her description of the assault included a recitation of who was in the room, “municipal authorities have an obligation to obtain the missing information if that can be done with a modicum of effort” … . Here, negligence is the only theory of liability that could be implied by petitioner’s conversations with Obigumeda and, in any event, he could have determined who was in the room during the course of his investigation with “a modicum of effort.” To hold otherwise would turn the statute into a sword, contrary to its remedial purpose … . …
… [R]espondent never provided Supreme Court with any evidence to substantiate that it was prejudiced by the mere passage of time. Instead, respondent made “[g]eneric arguments and inferences” which cannot establish substantial prejudice “in the absence of facts in the record to support such a finding” … .
While petitioner did not demonstrate a reasonable excuse for service of her late notice of claim, the lack of excuse is not fatal here … . Matter of Rodriguez v City of New York, 2019 NY Slip Op 03921, First Dept 5-21-19