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Schiavone v. City of New York, 1998 N.Y. Int. 0117 (Oct. 20, 1998).

MUNICIPAL LAW - PERSONAL INJURY - REVIVAL PROVISIONS


ISSUE & DISPOSITION

Issue

Whether a police officer's personal injury claim, commenced in 1994 but arising from a December 1991 accident, is timely given the revival provisions of General Municipal Law § 205(e).

Disposition

Yes. The plain meaning and intent of the statute and its amendments demonstrate the Legislature's desire to preserve an officer's right to sue. Therefore, the courts should not interpret the statute restrictively.

SUMMARY

Officer Schiavone, Appellant, was injured in a car accident while on duty on December 7, 1991. He filed a personal injury suit against the City of New York on October 26, 1994, claiming that the officer who drove the patrol car during the accident had done so negligently. The City moved for a dismissal or summary judgment on two grounds. First, Appellant failed to state a cause of action. Second, Appellant's claim was not timely given the revival provisions of General Municipal Law § 205(e).

General Municipal Law § 205(e) was enacted in 1989 to reverse the common law rule that police officers are barred from suing the municipality if injured while on duty. Section 205(e) came into effect on July 12, 1989. In response to court decisions that held that § 205(e) could not be applied retroactively, the NY Legislature passed an amendment in 1990. The 1990 Amendment declared § 205(e) remedial and created a revival provision which permitted an action on any claim that was dismissed, permitted or could have been actionable on or after January 1, 1987, had § 205 e been in effect. Any such remedial case had to be filed by June 30, 1991. In 1992, the legislature passed another amendment to § 205(e). The second amendment extended the filing deadline to June 30, 1993 for any claim that either was pending or could have been brought under § 205(e) on or after January, 1 1987. The effective date of this amendment was July 17, 1992. The legislature passed another amendment in 1994 extending the filing date to June 30, 1995 for claims arising on or after January 1, 1987.

The Supreme Court found for the Appellant. On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed, holding that the revival provision only applied to claims arising between January 1, 1987 and July 12, 1989, the effective date of the original law. Its theory was that anything after July 12, 1989 need not be revived. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the revival clause applied to any claims arising from accidents that happened on or after January 1, 1987, and on or before July 17, 1992, the effective date of the 1992 amendment.


Prepared by the liibulletin-ny Editorial Board.