Albany Residents Find it Tough to Get The City to Pay For Damages

Cantara: 1-800-LAW-1010, Our buddy Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti on the phone.

Quinn: Hey, Paul. What’s happening?

Paul: Hey, good morning. Good morning, guys.

Cantara: So we saw the story the other day in the “Times Union,” maybe you can help us out but in Albany they’re filing claims for damaged cars, homes, and trash cans. The city was sent notices claiming damage in more than 265 cases last year. So what are city residents upset about and what are they looking for?

Quinn: Money’s money, man. I don’t care if it’s a can or a car.

Paul: Yeah, I read that headline too and before you can bring a claim against any municipality, including the city of Albany, you have to file a thing called a notice of claim. So you file a notice of claim, it preserves your right to sue and hopefully during that time before you have to sue, they settle your claim. So here it includes potholes, it includes damage, I guess, to your garbage cans. Who knew? You know, they’ve got the city…

Cantara: Well, I pay for my cans.

Quinn: Well, you see, in Albany there’s like a $90-fee or something.

Paul: Yeah, per year.

Quinn: Per year.

Paul: No. Yeah, so you know, it’s a little less expensive than if you live in the suburbs and pay for your garbage but so what happens is, anytime the city does something that you feel has damaged you in any way, you know your car hits a pothole, even if you trip on the sidewalk, you think it’s dangerous, you file a notice of claim. And so here, what they were sort of pointing out is lots of notice of claims, but very few dollars paid out to residents and that’s what they seem to be upset about.

Quinn: Davis Avenue resident Shannon Torpy is pissed her can got dinged around, Cantara. She’s fed up.

Cantara: So are these legitimate claims and is it just impossible to fight city hall?

Paul: Right, so that’s what they’re finding. Yeah, people have damage. People, you know, their car hit a pothole, or they tripped over this, or their garbage cans are damaged because the folks working for the city weren’t delicate with them. But yeah, getting paid from the city, you know, there’s that old expression, you can’t fight city hall. It is super difficult. So you know, they’re basically getting together and saying, “Listen, there’s 256 of these claims last year, very few were paid. And they just send us a letter saying, ‘Hey, we’ll be more careful,’ or, ‘You can’t substantiate it.'” And so they just banded together, which is atypical. Usually, you think you do a notice of claim, you don’t know that you have a band of brothers out there equally upset. So that’s the story, but at the end of the day, recovering for that is super difficult.

Quinn: I like to leave my cigars lit on top of my garbage cans when I’m working at the yard, melt them in a little bit.

Cantara: Well, you probably didn’t pay for those.

Quinn: So I don’t think I paid for him. I think I maybe bought them.

Cantara: Well, I mean, I guess my point is they can just do what they want. How do we hold city hall accountable?

Paul: Well, historically, you know, if you can show that you put them on notice to a problem like a pothole, the only way they have to pay on that is if they are given prior written notice that there’s a pothole on Smith Street. Now they know about it, they have a reasonable time to patch it. And if someone gets injured during that, outside of that reasonable time, they’re on the hook. So they’ve got special rules, it’s not as if I was at, you know, one of your homes and I fell in your backyard, you had a hole there and I fell and I broke my ankle, I wouldn’t need to give you prior written notice, to send a notice of claim to you. I could just file a claim. Right? So not that I would but…

Cantara: Does that go for the plow guy that wrecks the front of my driveway every winter?

Paul: Yeah.

Cantara: Awesome.

Paul: I lost a mailbox this…and I didn’t bother calling the town of Colony. I came out one day, mailbox is 200 yards away and you know, some of the neighbors are like, “Oh, it happened to me and I got a hold of the town.” I go, “Well, what happened?” They’re like, “Well, nothing.” So I held back on that phone call myself, waited till the snow melted and stuck the mailbox back up. So yeah, sometimes it’s just part of living up here.

Quinn: Man.

Cantara: Do I have to like, officially put East Greenbush on notice that there’s a giant pothole outside of my beer store, or…

Quinn: Yeah, especially, yes.

Cantara: …or is just saying it on the radio enough of the notice?

Paul: No, it’s got to be prior written notice to them. And I’m telling you, when you do that, the stuff gets fixed.

Quinn: Does it really? So it works?

Paul: That really is the trick. Yeah. Because now they know they’re on the hook, so if someone gets hurt after and some guy like me now has filed a claim…

Quinn: It’s like Control-all Dave and how we have to keep him on the hook for stuff here.

Cantara: You’ve got to put a ticket in.

Quinn: Got to put a ticket it.

Cantara: Well, that’s good to know. I mean, if you’re willing to do the work and fill out the paperwork, at least something could possibly be done.

Quinn: You wanna try it? You wanna try it? I’ll write the note for you if you want.

Cantara: Well, there’s a giant pothole taking a right-hand turn on a three-way beverage, shakes my beer every weekend.

Quinn: All right, consider that your note town of…what?

Cantara: East Greenbush, in the bush.

Quinn: All right. Well, thanks, Paul.

Cantara: Yeah. Now, we know. I think we’re more…

Quinn: Better people now.

Cantara: …informed citizens than we were, you know, five minutes ago.

Quinn: Thanks, buddy.

Cantara: Thanks, Paul.

Paul: I’m glad I could help.

Cantara: Good job.

Quinn: 1-800-LAW-1010,, Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Man: Quinn and Cantara in the morning, classic rock all day on PYX 106.