Monroe County v. State

Decision Date19 November 1985
Docket NumberNos. 69342,70130 and 70327,s. 69342
Citation130 Misc.2d 261,495 N.Y.S.2d 643
PartiesCOUNTY OF MONROE and Andrew P. Meloni, Sheriff of Monroe County, Claimants, v. The STATE of New York, * Defendant. ClaimCourt of Claims of New York
CourtNew York Court of Claims

Charles R. Valenza, Co. Atty., of Monroe County, Rochester (Kenneth R. Fisher, of Counsel), for claimants.

Robert Abrams, Atty. Gen., Albany (Eugene Z. Grenz, Asst. Atty. Gen., of Counsel), for defendant.

HAROLD E. KOREMAN, Presiding Judge.

Where the State fails or refuses to accept "forthwith" for commitment criminal defendants who have been sentenced to State correctional facilities, thereby forcing a county to maintain said prisoners for extended periods of time, does the law provide a private right of action for reimbursement of the county's expenses? On the facts here presented we hold that no such action is available and, accordingly, summary judgment dismissing these claims must be entered.

Claimant County of Monroe alleges that upon the sentencing of convicted felons it is the duty of the county sheriff to deliver said defendants to the Department of Correctional Services (see CPL 430.20; CPL 430.30; Penal Law § 70.00, subd. 1; § 70.20, subd. 1), and that this transfer must be effected "forthwith" (CPL 430.20, subd. 1). The claimant county contends that, due to the State's unwillingness to accept convicted felons "forthwith", said claimant was required to house and maintain numerous State-ready prisoners for periods averaging between 10 and 49 days after sentencing, the longest delay in acceptance being 189 days. The county now seeks to recover for the expenditures which it incurred by reason of the State's alleged breach of the statutory mandate of CPL 430.20 (subd. 1). However, recognizing that recovery cannot be obtained through an action on an implied in fact contract (see Parsa v. State of New York, 64 N.Y.2d 143, 147-148, 485 N.Y.S.2d 27, 474 N.E.2d 235), or by application of the doctrine of quantum meruit (see Business Jet Airlines v. County of Nassau, 105 A.D.2d 679, 481 N.Y.S.2d 119; see, also, Dempsey v. City University of New York, 106 A.D.2d 486, 483 N.Y.S.2d 24; County of Onondaga v. State of New York, Court of Claims, Motion No. M-31741, December 26, 1984, Lowery, J.; see, generally, Beth Rifka, Inc. v. State of New York, App.Div., 494 N.Y.S.2d 771), the county advances the argument that the provisions of CPL 430.20, which require the State to accept sentenced prisoners "forthwith", also establish an action for money damages upon the State's failure to follow said directive.

In defining the State's obligation to accept sentenced criminal defendants, the Court of Appeals has held that CPL 430.20 (subd. 1), 1 permits no discretion as to when said defendants must be accepted for transfer construing "forthwith" to mean "without delay" (Crespo v. Hall, 56 N.Y.2d 856, 858, 453 N.Y.S.2d 392, 438 N.E.2d 1107 While the Court also stated that declaratory relief was appropriate to establish the rights of the parties, it was not confronted with, and thus did not address, the potentiality of an action for money damages upon non-compliance with the statute. Since the statute does not specifically provide for such legal relief it is necessary for this Court to determine whether the Legislature, in enacting CPL 430.20, intended the creation of a cause of action for money damages. In addressing this question we are guided by the decision in Burns Jackson Miller Summit & Spitzer v. Lindner, 59 N.Y.2d 314, 464 N.Y.S.2d 712, 451 N.E.2d 459, which sets forth the considerations which are relevant in pursuing such an inquiry, namely, whether claimants are members of the class for whose benefit the statute was enacted; the existence of any indication in the statute or its legislative history of an intent to create or deny such remedy; and most importantly, the consistency of doing so with the purposes underlying the legislative scheme (Burns Jackson Miller Summit & Spitzer v. Lindner, supra, at p. 325, 464 N.Y.S.2d 712, 451 N.E.2d 459).

A reading of the relevant portions of the CPL renders it apparent that the county, through its sheriff, is governed by CPL 430.20 (see, also CPL 430.30) and that said claimants are members of the class which is protected by the statute's mandates (see, generally, County of Onondaga v. New York State Department of Correctional Services, 97 A.D.2d 957, 468 N.Y.S.2d 760, affd. 62 N.Y.2d 826, 477 N.Y.S.2d 606, 466 N.E.2d 146). This notwithstanding, claimants have failed to offer any evidence which would indicate that the Legislature intended to create a private cause of action for money damages when it enacted CPL 430.20 or its predecessor statutes. 2 Neither does CPL 430.20 contain any language revealing an intention to pay the expenses borne by a county or other municipality in housing State-ready prisoners. In contradistinction, in those situations where the Legislature in fact contemplated reimbursement to a county for expenses incurred in the handling or...

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