HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS

HEALTH AND HOSPITAL

By: Akanksha A. Panicker

As a public benefit corporation, NYC Health + Hospitals, formally the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (NYCHHC), runs New York City’s public hospitals and clinics. HHC is the biggest public healthcare agency in the United States, treating millions of patients, including uninsured community citizens.

The New York State Legislature formed HHC as a public benefit corporation in 1969. It functions similarly to a municipal body, but a board of directors governs it. It operates eleven intensive care clinics, five nursing homes, six medical and recovery centers, and over 70 community-based primary care sites, mostly servicing the disadvantaged and working class. HHC’s MetroPlus Health Coverage is one of the biggest government-sponsored healthcare providers in the New York region. 

The most well-known hospital in the HHC system is Bellevue Hospital, considering that it is the oldest public hospital in the United States. In 1969, New York State created HHC to replace the city’s Department of Hospitals operating city hospitals and other health care facilities. HHC was formed as a quasi-public agency to enable it to benefit from private revenues and funding.

The organization underwent a rebranding initiative in November 2015, shortening its name from 40 characters to 19 characters, as ‘NYC Health + Hospitals.

[1.0] NYC HEALTH AND HOSPITALS AS A PUBLIC CORPORATION

New York state public benefit corporations and authorities act similarly to quasi-private corporations, with boards of directors designated by local officials and in oversight of both government and privately-run structures. Public authorities are similar to federal departments in several ways but are excluded from many state and municipal restrictions. Most notably, they issue their own debt, enabling them to avoid the state debt-caps imposed by the New York State Constitution. 

This enables public authorities to render risky capital and development projects without holding New York State or its municipalities’ credit at risk. Consequently, public agencies have come to be commonly used for funding public services, and they already account for a significant (sometimes termed disproportionate) amount of the state’s debt. The growing control of public authorities on state and local finances, along with their desire to circumvent laws that apply to government departments, has prompted change demands.   

[2.0] FOIL REQUESTS

Requests for medical records are handled by the Medical Records Office of each facility to aid in New York City Process Service requirements. State Law exempts certain records from disclosure. All records are available unless an exception permits an agency to deny access. Most of the exceptions are based upon common sense and the potential for harm using disclosure. If disclosure of records would damage an individual or preclude a government agency from carrying out its duties, some aspects of the records may likely be withheld. The Records Access Officer could deny the request, in whole or in part, if it falls under these exemptions. Appeals may be provided to the FOIL appeals officer.

However, members of the public are authorized under the New York State Public Officers Law, also known as the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), which allows public members to obtain records of state and local government. These requests must be made in writing and must request the documents in a particular manner, often laid down in the requirements for the New York City process service. Failure to do so could incur the risk of dismissal of the request. 

An individual can also physically mail the request to the Records Access officer if they so desire.  Included in the letter or e-mail will be the name, address, phone number, and e-mail address to properly recognize the request as usually conducted for New York City process service.

After it is received within five business days, NYC Health + Hospitals must acknowledge receipt of the request and indicate an approximate date when a determination will be made. If NYC Health + Hospitals determines to grant a request in whole or in part, and if circumstances prevent disclosure to the person requesting the record or records within twenty business days from the date of the acknowledgment of the receipt of the request, NYC Health + Hospitals shall state, in writing, both the reason for the inability to grant the request within twenty business days and a date certain within a reasonable period, depending on the circumstances, when the request will be granted in whole or in part. 

The copies of the records may be provided via electronic means, wherein the requester will thereinafter bear no charge. However, if physical copies of the records are required, there is a mandated charge of twenty-five cents a page. This must be paid before the records are released. 

  1. Changes In Service With Covid-19

Despite being a long way from the pandemic’s dark days, service of process has remained less reliant on personal delivery still across the hospitals. In light of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.8 tolling the period for service of process until April 19, 2020, the service window for New York City Health + Hospitals located was thereinafter closed, relying on the use of the email address to provide New York City process service satisfactorily. 

[3.0] SERVING A NOTICE OF CLAIM

In addition to the other methods prescribed by law and regulations of New York City Process Service, a notice of claim against a public corporation may be served on the New York Secretary of State as the public corporation’s statutory agent under Section 53 of the General Municipal Law. The General Construction Law definition of ‘public corporation’ includes municipal corporations, district corporations, and public benefit corporations.  It does not include publicly traded corporations. 

New York City Health And Hospitals Corporation, being a public corporation as defined in Section 66 of the General Construction Law of the State of New York, has erstwhile designated Secretary of State of the State of New York as its agent. This means that Claim’s Notice against the HHC as a corporation may be served upon the Secretary of State or any authorized person at the New York Department of State’s office. 

[3.1] REQUIREMENTS FOR A NOTICE OF CLAIM

When making a lawsuit against the City of New York or the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, some specific rules and protocols must be practiced by the rules of the New York City Process Service.  Notice of Claim must be served for serious injury or accident cases within ninety days of the incident that would be the claim’s foundation.

 A Notice of Claim must also be issued for a medical malpractice claim within ninety days of the date the malpractice was incurred or within ninety days of the last date the injured person was treated for the damage caused by the malpractice by the clinic, doctor, or health care professional working on behalf of the City of New York or NYCHHC. The court has the right to allow a late Notice of Claim to be filed where applicable based on the court’s own discretion and the application of the individual filing said late Notice of Claim. Such a submission must be submitted between one year and ninety days of the injury or the last date of services, although such approval is not necessarily given.

A party seeking leave to serve a late notice of claim must make an application to the court for that relief, and the court, in its discretion, may extend the party’s time to serve a late notice. The exemptions are primarily observable as under General Municipal Law § 50-e [5]. 

In making that determination, among other things, ‘the court shall consider, in particular, whether the public corporation  acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within 90 days or within a reasonable time thereafter.’  Considering the decision to grant or deny an application for an extension is ‘purely a discretionary one,’ it is difficult to pinpoint exact incidences wherein a late Notice of Claim may be acceptable. 

When making a claim for an injury resulting from treatment at a hospital or medical center owned and operated by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the same requirements for New York City Process Service must be met, and the same procedures must be followed as when a claim is made against the city.

[3.2] FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN SERVING A NOTICE OF CLAIM

To serve a Notice of Claim on the New York Secretary of State as a statutory agent of a public corporation, the Notice of Claim Server  for the  New York City Health And Hospitals Corporation will be required to complete a ‘Service of Process/Notice of Claim Cover Sheet;’

Hand-deliver two duplicate copies of the Notice of Claim is served (with the Service of Process/Notice of Claim Cover Sheet and, if applicable, a copy of the first page of the filed Certificate of Designation for Service of Notice of Claim stapled thereto and paid the service fee of USD 250 as per New York City Process Service requirements.

The Notice of Claim has a particular format that it will have to adhere to. It must be made in writing, sworn to by or on behalf of the claimant. Relevant details like the name and post-office address of each claimant and the attorney are mandatory. It is additionally imperative to include [A.] the nature of the claim, [B.[ the time when the place where and how the claim arose and [C.]  the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained so far. Unlike the FOIL request, however, the claimant doesn’t need to request a specific amount of damages that they would like to require. 

The corporation, in turn, can always inquire further and ask the claimant as to a supplemental claim from the claimant to clarify the determined amount due to the claimant that they have put forth. A supplemental claim shall be provided by the claimant within fifteen days of the request, barring which the court can ask for the claimant to provide the same. 

The NYC Health and Hospitals have been at the forefront of major healthcare decisions. NYC Health + Hospitals announced on March 16 that it had adopted the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation guidelines, system-wide, to further reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 and keep staff and patients safe during the pandemic. NYC Health + Hospitals officials said the guidelines would help clinicians choose care paths that are truly necessary and are free from harm to the patient to maximize care. Despite prior concerns with accountability and transparency, NYC HHC has had an equally beneficial history of providing primary care patients safety.

For more information on serving legal papers, contact New York City Process Service (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!  We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.

Sources

1. The current president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals is Dr. Mitchell H. Katz

2. metroplus.org, https://www.metroplus.org/ (last visited Mar 28, 2021)

3. HHC facilities treat nearly one-fifth of all general hospital discharges and more than one-third of emergency department and hospital-based clinic visits in New York City

4. The Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005 had several amendments made to it in consequence.

5. New York City Health + Hospitals: FOIL Appeals Officer

125 Worth Street, Room 527

New York, New York 10013

6. PBO – Public Officers Article 6 – (84 – 90) FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW

7. Email address: hhcfoil@nychhc.org

8. Any requests made by mail should be sent to: Records Access Officer New York City Health + Hospitals 125 Worth Street, Room 527 New York, New  York  10013 

9.  New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation d/b/a/ NYC Health + Hospitals, its President and Chief Executive Officer Mitchell H. Katz, M.D., MetroPlus Health Plan, and Correctional Health Services  are served at HHCService@nychhc.org

10. New York Consolidated Laws, General Municipal Law – GMU § 53. Alternative service of notice of claim upon the secretary of state

11. New York Consolidated Laws, General Construction Law – GCN § 66. Definitions

12. One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12231

13. 5.Application for leave to serve a late notice.
Upon application, the court, in its discretion, may extend the time to serve a notice of claim specified in paragraph (a) of subdivision one of this section, whether such service was made upon a public corporation or the secretary of state.
The extension shall not exceed the time-limited for the commencement of an action by the claimant against the public corporation. In determining whether to grant the extension, the court shall consider, in particular, whether the public corporation or its attorney or its insurance carrier acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts constituting the claim within the time specified in subdivision one of this section or within a reasonable time thereafter.
The court shall also consider all other relevant facts and circumstances, including: whether the claimant was an infant, or mentally or physically incapacitated, or died before the time limited for service of the notice of claim; whether the claimant failed to serve a timely notice of claim by reason of his justifiable reliance upon settlement representations made by an authorized representative of the public corporation or its insurance carrier; whether the claimant in serving a notice of claim made an excusable error concerning the identity of the public corporation against which the claim should be asserted; if service of the notice of claim is attempted by electronic means pursuant to paragraph (e) of subdivision three of this section, whether the delay in serving the notice of claim was based upon the failure of the computer system of the city or the claimant or the attorney representing the claimant; that such claimant or attorney, as the case may be, submitted evidence or proof as is reasonable showing that

  1. the submission of the claim was attempted to be electronically made promptly and would have been completed but for the failure of the computer system utilized by the sender or recipient, and 
  2. (ii) that upon becoming aware of both the failure of such system and the failure of the city to receive such submission, the claimant or attorney had insufficient time to make such claim within the permitted time period in a manner as otherwise prescribed by law; and whether the delay in serving the notice of claim substantially prejudiced the public corporation in maintaining its defense on the merits.

An application for leave to serve a late notice shall not be denied because it was made after the commencement of an action against the public corporation.

14. Under GML section 50-e (5)

15. Cohen v Pearl River Union Free Sch. Dist., 51 NY2d 256, 265 [1980]

161st. In Ryan v. N.Y.C. Health & Hosps. Corp., INDEX NO. 152457/2017, (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2017)

‘Defendants  (NYC HHC) argue that Plaintiff failed to comply with the applicable notice of claim requirements and that her claims are either time-barred or do not state a cause of action. ’ HHC’s motion was granted in part and denied in part.

17.  Mohamed, Carlotta. ‘NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens Recognized For Providing Enhanced Quality And Safety To Primary Care Patients – QNS.Com.’ QNS.Com, 2021, https://qns.com/2021/03/nyc-health-hospitals-queens-recognized-for-providing-enhanced-quality-and-safety-to-primary-care-patients/.

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