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Thursday, July 26, 2012

A “citizen action” challenging the State’s settlement of earlier litigation involving payment of damages by the State dismissed


A “citizen action” challenging the State’s settlement of earlier litigation involving payment of damages by the State dismissed
Santora v Silver,
20 Misc.3d 836, Modified and Affirmed, 61 A.D.3d 621, Motion to appeal denied, 13 N.Y.3d 704

This “citizen taxpayer action” pursuant to State Finance Law Section 123 et seq., sought money damages from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his former chief legal counsel, James Michael Boxley for the sum paid by the State of New York in settlement of a prior action entitled Jane Doe v The New York State Assembly, et al, Sup. Ct., Albany County, Index No. 33 14/04 (the Jane Doe action).

Ultimately The Jane Doe action was settled for $507,500 with the State of New York paying $500,000, conditioned on the approval of all appropriate state officials in accordance with the provisions for indemnification under Section 17 of the Public Officers Law.*$7,500 was paid contributed by Boxley, who was represented by private counsel in that litigation.

In this action, Joseph J. Santora sued in an effort to obtain a court order directing “restitution to [the State] from Silver and Boxley of the ‘$480,000’ that was paid by [the State] in settlement of the Jane Doe action.” In addition, Santora sought “money damages for the value of the legal services provided by the Attorney General in connection with his defense of Silver in the Jane Doe action, and argues that the Attorney General must be prevented from appearing in the present action on behalf of Silver.”

Judge Goodman dismissed the complaint filed by Santora against Silver and Boxley for the following reasons:

1. The complaint fails to allege any illegal or wrongful expenditure of state funds on Silver’s behalf, even if Silver had demonstrated leadership that would have led to an entirely different and more acceptable outcome. A claim that state funds are not being spent wisely is patently insufficient to satisfy the minimum threshold for standing under the [relevant] statute.”

2. The Attorney General’s representation of public officers does not entail the expenditure of public funds within the meaning of the State Finance Law … and [the Court is powerless to undertake] judicial scrutiny of statutorily-mandated non-fiscal activity of the Attorney General.”

3. Boxley was represented by private counsel in the Jane Doe action; and he was personally responsible for $7,500 of the total settlement paid to Jane Doe.

* Section 18 of the Public Officers Law permits political subdivisions of the State to elect to provide for representation and indemnification of its officers and employees sued as the result of the performance of, or the failure to perform, official duties.

The Supreme Court’s decision is posted on the Internet at:

The Appellate Division’s decision is posted on the Internet at:

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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