HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Undisputed Legal | New York City Process Service

Suing a city seems to be an overwhelming task. Service of a Notice of Claim or any other Legal Papers on the City of New York is, however, not as insurmountable as it sounds.  Although suing the government is more complex than pursuing a private person, it maintains a framework established by a series of laws. It is indeed discouraging because cases are subject to an extensive and sometimes perplexing set of limitations, but a case can be instituted relatively easily as long as the claim’s criteria are fulfilled.

 [1.0] HOW TO SERVE NEW YORK CITY

When attempting to sue a Municipality or Government Agency, one must be aware of the concept of sovereign immunity. A city, county, the State of New York, or other agency of government cannot be sued unless they consent to the suit being instituted. The New York City Process Service requirement in New York is the filing of a Notice of Claim.

A Notice of Claim must be filed within a specific period of time or the lawsuit cannot be filed at all. Customarily that time period is 90 days. The office of the New York City Comptroller is responsible for monitoring the settlement of claims against the city. Where a claim is made, the Comptroller’s Office is required to review the same. The Comptroller’s Office will extend a mediation offer or an offer for settlement if they consider it apt based on the results of the investigation.  

A precondition to holding the City liable for injuries that arise from potentially hazardous circumstances is noticed, as laid down by New York law. A notice of claim must be properly served within 90 days from the date of occurrence of the injury as per New York City Process Service requirement. On the office of the Comptroller, New York City Process Service requirement is required to be via [A.] electronically via the eClaim system, [B.] personal delivery, or [C.] registered or certified mail. A notice of claim must be filed in writing.

[2.0] WHAT CONSTITUTES A NOTICE OF CLAIM

In any case based on tort, where a notice of claim is required by law as a prerequisite to initiating an action or special proceeding. This might be against a public corporation, or any officer, or even an employee.  The notice of claim needs to comply with and be served within ninety days after the claim arises although, in wrongful death actions, the ninety days will begin from the appointment of a representative of the estate of the decedent.

It must be noted here that the notice of a claim to an officer or employee of a public company is not a prerequisite to the introduction of an action or special proceeding against that entity. Where a suit or special proceeding is brought against an individual but not against the public company, New York City Process Service requirement of the notice of claim on the corporation would solely be provided if the corporation is required to indemnify that person.

At any time after service of a notice of claim has been done regardless of the stage of an action,  a mistake, omission, irregularity, or defect made in good faith in the notice of claim required to be served that is not related to the manner or time of service, maybe corrected, supplied, or disregarded, as the case may be.

It is imperative for a Notice of Claim to have [A.] the name and address of both the party filing the claim and the attorney representing them, [B.] details and the nature of the claim, [C.] nature of the injuries, [D.] damages sought. It is necessary for the Notice of the claim to be sworn to and attested in a verification process. Since the Notice of Claim serves as the absolute preliminary intimation of the dispute at hand that the municipality or the City would know about, it is necessary to furnish them with full and sufficient facts of the case. 

If a notice of claim is required to be filed against the City of New York, it is vital to ensure that this Notice has been provided to the right municipality or agency as per New York City Process Service requirement regulations. This is because the filing of the claim in an agency that is no qualified to hear and return said notice will render it void, often leaving the claimant without remedy. Especially since Notice of Claim is time-bound, it is necessary to ensure that the ninety-day period for filing has not run its course. It is very seldom that a Court permits the filing of a late Notice of claim.  

Filing a claim within the notice period is not the same as complying with the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations is an explicit timeframe within which a lawsuit must be filed. However, the Statute of Limitations only comes into play once the minimum requirements for filing a Notice of Claim have been reached. 

 [2.1] HOW TO SERVE THE STATE OF NEW YORK VERSUS THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Personal service upon the state should be made by delivering the summons to an assistant attorney-general at an office of the attorney-general or to the attorney-general within the state.

Personal service on a state officer sued solely in their official capacity or on a state agency would mean that the claimant would have to obtain personal jurisdiction over an officer or agency. This can be done by [A.]  delivering the summons to the officer or another high-ranking officer of such agency or to a person designated to receive service via personal service on the State of New York, or [B.]  mailing the summons by certified mail to such officer or chief executive officer of such agency. Service by certified mail is not effective till the summons are deposited in an agency’s principal office and personal service on the state is done. If the front of the envelope carries the legend ‘URGENT LEGAL MAIL’ in capital letters, service through registered mail is ineffective. Each such agency’s chief executive officer shall appoint at least one individual, in addition to themselves, to take personal service on the agency’s behalf. The word ‘state agency’ usually is interpreted broadly to include any agency, board, office, committee, branch, tribunal, or other body. Personal delivery refers to the highest form of service, wherein service is provided within the state to the actual person to be served. Personal service is a part of actual service, wherein the complaint or the summons is delivered in hand to the respondent. Personal service forms a triad of basic delivery with substituted service and constructive service. 

However, when service is provided, the preferable manner of service would be personal delivery upon the authorized officer. If this personal delivery is not possible, service can also be done by registered or certified mail, to the person designated by law to whom a summons generated in an action in the Supreme court is supposed to be delivered.  Service by registered or certified mail would instead be accomplished upon deposit of the notice of claim. Service by certified mail must be addressed suitably on the front of the envelope and should bear the legend of the mail being urgent and legal. After this has been completed, the service may be accepted. The chief executive officer of every such agency should designate at least one person, not counting themselves, to accept personal service on behalf of the agency. This procedure is held to be true in any state agency. 

If the notice is served by electronic means, it needs to contain all the requisite information and compliance. In addition, the notice must contain a declaration as to the verity of the documentation, which requires the notice to bear the declaration ‘I certify that all information contained in this notice is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I understand that the willful making of any false statement of material fact herein will subject me to criminal penalties and civil liabilities.’ Service of the notice will then be complete upon successful transmission of the notice. This success can be evaluated as per the electronic receipt provided by the city, which shall transmit an electronic receipt number to the claimant forthwith.

If the claim is being filed for damages sustained as a result of an alleged defective roadway condition on a New York State highway, a separate claim would have to be filed with New York State. 

[2.2.] HOW TO SERVE NEW YORK CITY

The notice requirement in New York City Process Service is imperative for a notice of claim upon the city. Prior to the City being held liable for injuries or damages resulting from a potentially dangerous condition, New York law requires that the City have noticed. This is an important precondition since no civil action can be brought against the city for damage to property or injury to a person or death sustained in consequence of any street sidewalk being out of repair, unsafe, dangerous, or obstructed. The caveat for this barring of the action brought against the City is that the claimant would have to have written notice of the defective, unsafe, dangerous, or obstructed condition as per New York City Process Service requirements. Further, this notice should have had to be given to the commissioner of the agency or any person or department authorized by the commissioner to receive such notice. 

A claim can also be brought even with the restrictions under the is there was a previous injury to a person or property as a result of the existence of the improper condition. It would be necessary for New York City Process Service to ensure that written notice has been given to a city agency, although usually the City would provide written acknowledgment about the defective, unsafe, dangerous, or obstructed condition. However, the suit may also be brought up if there was a failure or neglect within fifteen days after the receipt of the notice to repair or remove the defect or the place otherwise made reasonably safe.

This is also held to be true in a situation where an officer issued solely in an official capacity. For an agency, this would mean that personal delivery to the officer or the chief executive officer of the agency would have to be committed on a personal delivery basis. However, service on said officer may also be made by [A.] mailing of the papers by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the officer or chief executive officer of the agency, or [B.] personal service on the State of New York. New York City Process Service on a corporation, however, can also be made by delivering the process to an officer, director, or general agent, or cashier or assistant cashier, or any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service.

[1.1] SERVICE BY MAIL 

Service by certified mail cannot be complete until the summons is received in a  principal office of the agency. This also holds true until personal service upon the City in the manner provided by the office is concluded.  As an alternative to the methods of personal service, documents may be served by the plaintiff or any other person by mailing to the person or entity to be served as per New York City Process Service. 

Mail-in this context means that first-class mail must be employed with postage prepaid, a copy of the documents together with two copies of a statement of service by mail, and acknowledgment of receipt. The mail needs to be provided in a postpaid addressed wrapper, in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States post office department. However, failure to properly address the service would likely cause delays in the claim itself and it is vital to address the Notice of Claim to New York City’s authorized office specifically.

  1. SERVICE OF PROCESS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS

It is the responsibility of the people’s officials to lead them in taking measures for defense against the virus. Consequently, while personal service has hitherto been preferred, in light of altered circumstances and the risks presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Law Department has since accepted electronic New York City Process Service of summons and complaints. 

The policy has not been nullified after lifting emergency provisions. The minimal contact guidelines are to stay in effect and are currently ongoing. This would require the service via mail to follow the procedure in the format that is traditionally demanded. Failure to do so could result in rejection of the service, insofar as the City of New York reserves the right to reject service of process in civil actions where a defect in New York City Process Service is found.  If the summons or complaints in a civil action is made, it must be to the official email address of the Law Department entrusted to accepting New York City Process Service. This rule is inflexible without any express and written consent that exonerates it. Said consent may be presented electronically. 

Like service by personal delivery, the Law Department still functions by adhering to strict hours. Same-day delivery for electronic service made after 5:00 p.m. cannot be considered acceptable and will instead be carried onto the next day. This means that any New York City Process Service that abrogates the 5:00 p.m. deadline is deemed to be a part of the next business day, i.e., is accepted at 9:00 a.m. on the next day. Personal service to the State of New York may be made by delivering the summons to an assistant attorney-general at an office of the attorney-general or to the attorney-general within the state, although for New York City, the Law Department is empowered to accept service of process on behalf of the city. Ever since June 2020, New York City Process Service is acceptable solely on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Electronic service is still continuing, with an email address being available to accept service only for the City of New York and entities for which the Law Department is authorized to accept service. 

New York, like the majority of the country, is battling the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19.) New York residents can brace by staying informed about legal and protection procedures during this period. Along with protection awareness, New Yorkers must be aware of their privileges and obligations, as well as the resources available to them, in order to shield themselves from more exposure to the virus and to guarantee a real recovery by adhering to security protocols designed to address the extraordinary health and safety danger to the public.

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.https://undisputedlegal.com/new-york-city-process-service/

Sources

1. Tort claims against some Authorities should not be served on the Comptroller’s Office, and must be served on the Authority or its designated agent:

 

  1. New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA)
  2. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
  3. Triboro Bridge & Tunnel Authority
  4. Port Authority of NY and NJ
  5. Manhattan, Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MABSTOA)
  6. New York City School Construction Authority
  7. New York City Health + Hospitals (HH)
  8. Staten Island Rapid Transit Authority
  9. MTA Bus Company (MTABC)
  10. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
  11. Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority

2. New York City Administrative Code 7-201(c)(2)

No civil action shall be maintained against the city for damage to property or injury to person or death sustained in consequence of any street…[or] sidewalk…being out of repair, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed, unless it appears that written notice of the defective, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed condition, was actually given to the commissioner of transportation or any person or department authorized by the commissioner to receive such notice, or where there was the previous injury to person or property as a result of the existence of the defective, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed condition, and written notice thereof was given to a city agency, or there was written acknowledgment from the city of the defective, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed condition, and there was a failure or neglect within fifteen days after the receipt of such notice to repair or remove the defect, danger, or obstruction complained of, or the place otherwise made reasonably safe.’

3. Pursuant to the New York State General Municipal Law § 50-e

4. NY CPLR § 307 (2012)

5. NY CPLR § 311 (2015)

6. This is  deemed to refer to any agency, board, bureau, commission, division, tribunal or

  other entity which constitutes the state for purposes of service

7. More information is available through the New York State Department of Transportation.

8. The New York City Administrative Code 7-201(c)(2)

9. Person designated by the chief executive officer to receive service

10. NY CPLR § 307 (2012)

11. NY CPLR § 311 (2015)

12. The term ‘principal office of the agency’ refers to the location at which the office of the chief executive officer of the agency is generally located.

 NY CPLR § 307 (2012)

13.    §  307. Personal service upon the state.  

Personal service upon the  state  shall  be  made  by  delivering  the  summons  to  an   assistant  attorney-general  at  an  office  of  the  attorney-general  or  to  the  attorney-general within the state

14. The email address established for service in this period is ServiceECF@law.nyc.gov

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