The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined petitioner’s Article 78 proceeding was time-barred because petitioner unreasonably delayed making the demand which triggered the four-month statute of limitations (laches):
“[W]here, as here, the proceeding is in the nature of mandamus to compel, it ‘must be commenced within four months after refusal by respondent, upon demand of petitioner, to perform its duty’ ” … . ” ‘[A] petitioner[, however,] may not delay in making a demand in order to indefinitely postpone the time within which to institute the proceeding. The petitioner must make his or her demand within a reasonable time after the right to make it occurs, or after the petitioner knows or should know of the facts which give him or her a clear right to relief, or else, the petitioner’s claim can be barred by the doctrine of laches’ ” … . “The term laches, as used in connection with the requirement of the making of a prompt demand in mandamus proceedings, refers solely to the unexcused lapse of time” and “does not refer to the equitable doctrine of laches” … . Inasmuch as “[t]he problem . . . is one of the [s]tatute of [l]imitations[,] . . . it is immaterial whether or not the delay cause[s] any prejudice to the respondent” … . “[T]he four-month limitations period of CPLR article 78 proceedings has been ‘treat[ed] . . . as a measure of permissible delay in the making of the demand’ ” … . Matter of Cor Van Rensselaer St. Co. III, Inc. v New York State Urban Dev. Corp., 2023 NY Slip Op 05867, Fourth Dept 11-17-23
Practice Point: Where a mandamus proceeding is triggered by a demand by petitioner, an unreasonable delay in making the demand will render the proceeding time-barred.