Applying the Doctrine of Primary Jurisdiction
2015 NY Slip Op 02769, Appellate Division, Second Department
A teacher [Educator] sued the school district when it declined to add two years to her “seniority credit.” Supreme Court granted the school district’s motion “pursuant to the doctrine of primary jurisdiction to the extent of staying the proceeding so that the parties could bring the issue before the New York State Commissioner of Education.” Educator appealed.
The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court’s ruling with costs awarded to the school district.
The court explained that "The doctrine of primary jurisdiction provides that where the courts and an administrative agency have concurrent jurisdiction over a dispute involving issues beyond the conventional experience of judges . . . the court will stay its hand until the agency has applied its expertise to the salient questions."
This doctrine applies, said the Appellate Division, "where a claim is originally cognizable in the courts, and comes into play whenever enforcement of the claim requires the resolution of issues which, under a regulatory scheme, have been placed within the special competence of an administrative body; in such a case the judicial process is suspended pending referral of such issues to the administrative body for its views," citing Staatsburg Water Co. v Staatsburg Fire Dist., 72 NY2d 147.
In this instance the question before the court concerned the appropriate calculation of Educator's seniority and thus, said the Appellate Division, fell within the special knowledge and expertise of the Commissioner of Education.
Thus, said the court, Supreme Court properly granted the school district’s motion to the extent of staying the proceeding so that the parties could bring the issue before the Commissioner.
The decision is posted on the Internet at: