From: Eileen Finneran
Subject: Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit Brought
by Former City Council Members
Press Contact: Public Safety Commissioner
Christian Mathiesen, 527-2710 or 587-3550 x2627
or Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Eileen
Finneran, 587-3550 x 2631
Saratoga Springs, November 22, 2015 – In a
Decision and Order dated November 17, 2015, the
New York State Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit
against the City of Saratoga Springs, its City
Council members, and a local developer and a local
In McTygue et al. v. City of Saratoga Springs et al.,
three former City Council members (Thomas
McTygue, Remigia Foy, and Raymond Watkin)
challenged a 2013 City Resolution in which the City
agreed to purchase land on which it could site an
EMS facility for $200,000 and sell a City-owned
parcel commonly known as the “Collamer Lot” for
$775,000. The lawsuit alleged violations of the
Public Trust Doctrine, the State Environmental
Quality Review Act, and General Municipal Law
section 51 (a public corruption statute). Upon the
City’s motion, Acting Supreme Court Justice
Richard Sise dismissed the suit in its entirety.
The City Respondents are thrilled with the Court’s
decision, though not surprised by it. Public Safety
Commissioner Christian Mathiesen said, “The entire
process leading up to the City Council Resolution
approving the land transactions was transparent and
in furtherance of the best interests of the City.”
The City Respondents were represented by Daniel J.
Hurteau and Jena R. Rotheim of the law firm Nixon
Not being a lawyer I struggled with the decision. It appears that the suit was dismissed for a number of reasons.
- It was beyond the statute of limitations
- The plaintiffs did not have standing
- The persons bringing the suit failed to meet a standard that required them to show “official corruption.”
In the case of “standing,” the judge found that plaintiffs failed to show that they had been harmed. Apparently, proximity to the parcel can be a factor and the judge took exception to measuring the distance from the Collamer to Tom McTygue’s home as the crow flies (which could have affected his standing) when it should have been measured by the distance required to travel there. More pointedly, the judge took exception to the claim made by Tom McTygue that “construction of the [city center] parking garage will, according to McTygue, impose an environmental harm on him that is greater in degree than that experienced by the general public.” The judge continued by stating that “…the claim is not articulated. And because the ‘[t]he injury in fact element must be based on more than conjecture or speculation’, petitioners are without standing…”
In the case of “statute of limitations,” the two parties argued over when the clock started in determining when the suit had to be be filed by. The judge found for the city.
In the case of “failure to state a cause of action,” the plaintiffs had to show that the “‘…acts complained of are fraudulent or a waste of public property in the sense that they represent the use of public property or funds for entirely illegal purposes.'” The judge went on to set a very hire bar. “There must be specific allegations of waste tied to official corruption and allegations of illegality alone are insufficient and any expenditure of funds must be for entirely illegal purposes…” “In the absence of allegations of corrupt motive and illegal purpose the complaint is facially insufficient…”
This is a link to a more readable (PDF) copy of the decision.