Education Law Section 3813 (1) Interpretation

In Matter of Board of Educ. of Enlarged Ogdensburg City School Dist. (Wager Constr. Corp.) (37 N.Y.2d 283, 333 N.E.2d 353, 372 N.Y.S.2d 45 [1975], the Court interpreted Education Law 3813: (1), which, like Public Authorities Law 1744; (2), provides that a notice of claim must be presented "within three months after the accrual of such claim." the Court held in Wager that "accrual" of a "claim" occurs when a contractor's damages are ascertainable, even if no "cause of action" has yet accrued because no one has disputed the amount of the contractor's bill. Wager was based on questionable logic, and has led to unfortunate results. In support of its distinction between accrual of a claim and accrual of a cause of action, Wager cited three Appellate Division decisions: Shalman v. Board of Educ. of Cent. School Dist. No. 1 [31 A.D.2d 338, 297 N.Y.S.2d 1000 [3d Dept 1969]), Waterman v. State of New York (19 A.D.2d 264, 241 N.Y.S.2d 314 [4th Dept 1963], affd without opinion 14 N.Y.2d 793, 200 N.E.2d 212, 251 N.Y.S.2d 30 [1964], 17 N.Y.2d 613, 216 N.E.2d 26, 268 N.Y.S.2d 929 [1966]), and Terrace Hotel Co. v. State of New York (19 A.D.2d 434, 243 N.Y.S.2d 989 [3d Dept 1963]). In each of these cases, the claim was held to have accrued after the cause of action accrued, and the court relied on the distinction between a claim and a cause of action to hold that the contractor's claim was timely. the gist of the holdings in the three Appellate Division cases is that, when a dispute between the parties has arisen and a cause of action has therefore accrued, the contractor should still not have to submit its claim until it can know what its damages are.