Even Though Finally Receiving Care Services, Plaintiff Must Be Heard on Claim of Agency’s Failure to Advise of Their Temporary Availability Earlier
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ARGUMENT OVER “MOOTNESS”
She didn’t get the services at first, but did ultimately, and her suit against the Human Resources Administration is based on the agency’s failure to notify her about a right to temporary services during the pendency of her application. She claimed that right to notice under § 133 of the Social Services Law.
The case turns almost entirely on the so-called “mootness” doctrine, the argument being that because she’s now receiving what she sought, her complaint about the lateness is moot and hence beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to consider.
There is an exception to the mootness doctrine, however, under which the claim can go forward even if its present pushers actually have no claim left. This exception has often been recited by the Court of Appeals, as in its terse statement in the Court’s 2010 decision in City of New York v. Maul (Digest 606), in which the Court said that
“we have consistently applied an exception to the mootness doctrine, permitting judicial review, where the issues are substantial or novel, [and] likely to recur.”
In Coleman v. Daines, 19 N.Y.3d 1087, …. N.Y.S.2d …. (Oct. 30, 2012), the majority finds in a 4-3 memorandum decision that the exception is met and that the case can go forward. In a temporary-vs.-permanent situation like this, holds the majority, the issue involved is “likely to recur”. It says that because of “the relatively brief nature of the violation, the question is substantial and will typically evade judicial review.”
Source: New York State Law Digest No. 637 January 2013