November 10, 2020

Requesting reconsideration of a final administrative decision does not serve to toll or extend the running of the controlling statute of limitations

The Petitioner [Plaintiff] in this CPLR Article 78 sought judicial review of the determination of the Fire District [District] denying the Plaintiff retiree health insurance benefits. The District opposed the petition, asserting, among other things, the affirmative defense of the statute of limitations.* The Supreme Court denied the petition as time-barred and dismissed the proceeding. Plaintiff appealed the court's ruling.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's ruling, explaining:

1. A proceeding pursuant to CPLR Article 78 must be commenced within four months after the administrative determination sought to be reviewed becomes final and binding upon the petitioner.

2. An administrative determination becomes final and binding when "the agency... reache[s] a definitive position on the issue that inflicts actual, concrete injury and ...  [the]  administrative action [becomes] available to the complaining party."**

3. A request for reconsideration of an administrative determination typically does not extend or toll the running of the statute of limitations or render the otherwise final determination non-final unless the agency's rules mandate reconsideration.***

Here, opined the Appellate Division, the District's determination denying the Plaintiff retiree health insurance became final and binding when Plaintiff's counsel received notice from the District's counsel via email.

Contrary to the Plaintiff's argument, the court ruled that the statute of limitations was not extended or tolled by the subsequent email from the District's counsel to the Plaintiff's counsel as the plain language of the email shows that the District's counsel's response was to Plaintiff's counsel's "request for reconsideration of a prior determination" and as such it did not serve to extend or toll the statute of limitations.

Accordingly, the Appellate Division agreed with the Supreme Court's decision to deny Plaintiff's petition as time-barred and dismiss Plaintiff's petition and affirmed the Supreme Court's judgment, with costs.

* A party seeking to assert the statute of limitations as a defense has the burden of establishing that the petitioner was notified of the determination more than four months before the Article 78 proceeding was commenced.

**See Matter of Zherka v Ramos, 173 AD3d 746.

***See Matter of Lubin v Board of Educ. of City of N.Y., 60 NY2d 974.

The decision is posted on the Internet at http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2020/2020_06268.htm

 

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