The Appellate Division Second Department recently held that the failure to file a timely notice of claim, as required by the General Municipal Law, should not be excused in the case of Narcisse v. Village of Central Islip.
The Court noted that General Municipal Law section 50-e requires that within 90 days of the event giving rise to a tort claim a party making such a claim must file a notice of claim with the municipality. The purpose is to provide the municipality a timely opportunity to investigate the claim. However, if there is a failure to file such a notice the law allows a party to seek leave of the court to file a late notice. The party seeking leave of the court must address certain factors such as a reasonable excuse for failing to file, lack of prejudice to the municipality and most particularly whether the municipality had actual knowledge of the occurrence.
The Court denied this application finding that the municipality had no knowledge of the occurrence and the petitioner had failed to demonstrate there would be no prejudice to the municipality. In addition, the petitioner had not sought legal advice until the 90 day period had expired and the Court found that ignorance of the law is no excuse for failing to comply.