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Carver v. State

April 17, 2009

WALTER E. CARVER, PETITIONER, FOR A JUDGMENT PURSUANT TO CPLR ARTICLE 78
v.
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION & FINANCE AND ROBERT L. MEGNA, COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION & FINANCE, THE NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF TEMPORARY AND DISABILITY ASSISTANCE AND DAVID A. HANSELL, COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF TEMPORARY AND DISABILITY ASSISTANCE, AND THE NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF LOTTERY AND GORDON MEDENCIA, DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF LOTTERY, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin Schneier, J.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the printed Official Reports.

The primary issue presented here is whether a former public assistance benefits recipient of $10,736.00 who had participated in New York's "Work Experience Program" and now is a $10,000.00 New York State Lottery prize winner is deprived of the New York State and Federal minimum wage standards by the implementation of Social Services Law Section 131-r which required reimbursement to New York of $5000.00. Thus, the lottery winner receives only the remaining $5,000.00 of his original $10,000.00 prize.

This is an issue of first impression in New York State.

In this Article 78 proceeding respondents cross-move to deny the petition and to dismiss this proceeding.

Background

On August 10, 2007, petitioner, Walter E. Carver won a $10,000.00 prize from the New York State Lottery after purchasing a lottery ticket in Brooklyn, New York. Previously, from September 5, 1997 through March 4, 2000 petitioner had received public assistance benefits in the total sum of $10,736.00. As a condition of receiving public assistance benefits petitioner was required to participate in the "Work Experience Program" (WEP) pursuant to Social Services Law Section 336.

Social Services Law Section 336 states, in pertinent part:

"1. Social services districts may provide and require applicants for and recipients of public assistance to participate in a variety of activities, including but not limited to the following:

(a) unsubsidized employment;

(b) subsidized private sector employment;

(c) subsidized public sector employment;

(d) work experience in the public sector or non-profit sector;

(e) on-the-job-training."

Social Services Law Section 131-r states, in pertinent part:

"Any person who is receiving or has received, within the previous 10 years, public assistance pursuant to the provisions of this article, and who wins a lottery prize of six hundred dollars or more shall reimburse the department from the winnings, for all such public assistance benefits paid to such person during the previous ten years, provided, however, that such crediting to the department shall in no event exceed fifty percent of the amount of the lottery prize."

To facilitate the recovery from the lottery prize winnings payable to persons who received public assistance within the past ten years the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance coordinates with the New York State Division of Lottery to intercept the prizes won by persons known to have received public assistance within the past ten years.

By letter dated September 10, 2007, petitioner was informed by respondent, New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), that pursuant to Social Services Law Section 131-r, one-half ($5,000.00) of his lottery prize winnings was being credited towards the public assistance benefits that he had received previously. Petitioner on September 27, 2007 requested a review of this determination.

On January 8, 2008 petitioner was notified of the final determination by OTDA to retain the $5,000.00 of his lottery prize winnings. On May 13, 2008 petitioner commenced this Article 78 proceeding challenging respondents September 10, 2007 determination to intercept and retain one-half of petitioner's lottery prize winnings and the January 8, 2008 final decision denying petitioner's administrative appeal.

The Fourth Cause of Action in the Petition alleges in pertinent part:

"Violation of Federal Labor Law 29 USC Section 206" 44.........the federal minimum wage law is codified by 29 USCS Section ...


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