McArdle v. New York City Housing Authority
Court Discusses Whether the Judge Acted Prudently in Exercising his Discussion
The plaintiff who was the parent of an infant brought an action to recover damages for false imprisonment and assault committed by the defendant. The infant, who was a 19 years old, was arrested by a security guard employed by the defendant on July 15, 1972 at 12:30 A.M. The security guard charged the infant with driving an automobile while intoxicated
dwai, driving recklessly and resisting arrest. The plaintiff was released on bail later on the same day. The charges against him were dismissed on October 28, 1972. The plaintiff’s Queen’s County Personal Injury Attorney served the defendant with a notice of claim in which they claimed a total of $500,000 for compensatory and punitive damages for false imprisonment and an assault allegedly committed by the security guard on July 15, 1972.
The plaintiff requested to extend the time for service of their notice of claim to the plaintiff due to the failure of their Queen County Personal Injury Lawyer to know when their cause of action accrued. Additionally, it was asserted that the complainant was an infant and was therefore under disability to assert his claim. The motion to extend the time to serve the notice of the claim was granted by the Special Term for a period of 20 days after the entry of the order. A clerical error by the plaintiff’s attorney to learn about the order, led to the notice of claim being served after the time-enlargement had expired. The plaintiff served a summons on august 23, 1973. The defendant served a notice of appearance to state that the claim was not served in a timely manner according to section 50-e of the General Municipal Law. The defendant sought to dismiss the action for noncompliance with the statute in October 1973. The plaintiff made a request to further enlarge the time to comply with the statute. The Special term granted the cross motion of the plaintiff to extend the time by another 20 days for the service of the notice of claim. The defendant appealed the decision.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court held that the Special term did not act prudently in granting the plaintiff cross motion to further enlarge the time to serve the notice of claim. The complaint was over 19 years old at the time when the claim of false imprisonment and assault accrued and almost 21 when the request to enlarge the time to serve the notice of claim, therefore, the reason given about his infant disability was unsubstantiated. In addition, there was no affidavit of the merits as to the possible liability of the criminal defendant or in any way adequately support his huge claim for personal injuries. Further, the second motion for time enlargement, was made more than a year after alleged claims against the defendant accrued, it was time-barred.
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