The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the motions for leave to file late notices of claim in these actions stemming from pollution escaping from a landfill should have been granted. Although leave to file a late notice of claim can not be granted after the statute of limitations has run, here the statute of limitations was tolled by the filing of a federal class action suit:
Although more than one year and ninety days had elapsed between the November 2016 accrual date alleged in claimants’ proposed notices of claim and their application for leave to serve late notices of claim, we agree with claimants that the filing of the federal class action in March 2017, in which claimants are putative class members, tolled the statute of limitations … . …
… [T]he court abused its discretion in denying their application insofar as it sought leave to serve late notices of claim on respondent … . “In determining whether to grant such [relief], the court must consider, inter alia, whether the claimant[s have] shown a reasonable excuse for the delay, whether the [respondent] had actual knowledge of the facts surrounding the claim within 90 days of its accrual, and whether the delay would cause substantial prejudice to the [respondent]” … . Although claimants failed to establish a reasonable excuse for the delay, “[t]he failure to offer an excuse for the delay is not fatal where . . . actual notice was had and there is no compelling showing of prejudice to [respondent]” … .
… [B]ecause respondent knew that its Site was upgraded to a Class 2 site in 2015 and because similarly situated individuals served timely notices of claim on respondent alleging “substantively identical” exposure to the Site’s pollutants and resulting damages … , we conclude that claimants established that respondent received the requisite actual timely knowledge of the claims claimants now assert. We further conclude that claimants met their initial burden of establishing that respondent would not be substantially prejudiced by the delay inasmuch as respondent has been investigating similar claims since early 2017 … and that, in opposition, respondent failed to make a “particularized showing” of substantial prejudice caused by the late notice … . Matter of Bingham v Town of Wheatfield, 2020 NY Slip Op 04241, Fourth Dept 7-24-20