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May 24, 2017

Mere speculation and bare legal conclusions without any factual support set out in an Article 78 petition are ineffective in rebutting a defendant's motion to dismiss


Mere speculation and bare legal conclusions without any factual support set out in an Article 78 petition are ineffective in rebutting a defendant's motion to dismiss
England v New York City Dept. of Envtl. Protection, 2017 NY Slip Op 03948, Appellate Division, Second Department

The petitioner [Petitioner] in this Article 78 action had completed and passed a civil service exam for appointment to the position of Watershed Maintainer with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection [Department]. The Petitioner's name was placed  on an eligible list of candidates by the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Petitioner was subsequently considered, but not selected, for three separate vacancies for the position of Watershed Maintainer. Petitioner was then declared ineligible for further certification or appointment from the list established for the Department.

Petitioner then filed an Article 78 petition seeking a review a determination of the Department's decisions declining to select Petitioner for appointment to the position. Supreme Court granted the Department's motion to dismiss the Article 78 petition "for failure to state a cause of action and, in effect, dismissed the proceeding. Petitioner appealed.

Pointing out that although in an Article 78 motion to dismiss "only the petition is considered," the Appellate Division noted that all of allegations set out in the petition "are deemed true, and the petitioner is accorded the benefit of every possible favorable inference."

In contrast, said the court, "bare legal conclusions are not entitled to the benefit of the presumption of truth and are not accorded every favorable inference."

Applying these principles, the Appellate Division ruled that Supreme Court properly granted the Department's motion to dismiss the petition filed by Appellate Division, Second Department because it failed to state a discrimination claim and offered no more than "speculation and bare legal conclusions without any factual support."

Further, said the court, Petitioner's allegations that the Department refused to hire him because of a prior arrest history was unsupported by any factual contentions and constituted "mere legal conclusions, and are insufficient to state a claim."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_03948.htm

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