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Victims of a wrongful determination or course of conduct by a city, county, town, village, police department, fire department, school district, licensing authority, or any other state agency, local agency or public body, may have legal options at their disposal. A bad decision by bureaucrats or officials is often not the final say on a matter. Article 78 of New York’s Civil Practice Laws and Rules provides the ability to challenge a determination by an agency or body and to potentially get a court to overturn that determination.
What is Subject to Challenge
Article 78 allows citizens to challenge a wide variety of determinations, including but not limited to:
Denials, suspensions or revocations of licenses (such as a liquor license, pistol license or driver’s license);
Termination from a fire department, police department or other agency;
Disqualification from a civil service application process (such as a police department application process or correction officer application process);
Land use and property issues: denials of zoning permits or special land use permits; determinations about residential and commercial land use; determinations about landmark or historic designations;
Denials of Freedom of Information (FOIL) requests; and
Denials of applications to amend birth certificates or other legal documents.
Who is Subject to Challenge
The list of state and local agencies or bodies that can be challenged is extensive. A few well-known examples of such agencies or bodies that are susceptible to Article 78 challenges include but are not limited to:
New York City Police Department (NYPD) or any other police department;
New York City Fire Department (NYFD) or any other fire department;
New York City Department of Education or any other school district;
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV);
New York State Liquor Authority;
New York State Department of Health; and
New York State Worker’s Compensation Board.
State and local agencies often make bad decisions for a variety of reasons, including ignorance, intentional disregard of an agency’s rules or procedures, bias, lack of a diligent, fair or thorough review process, and arbitrariness.
Just because an agency supposedly has the necessary expertise to reach the correct decision does not mean that it will. State and local agencies wield enormous power, and decisions made by agencies can lead to unfortunate consequences, such as financial ruin, denial or loss of a coveted job, or denial or loss of a basic right or privilege.
Do Not Hesitate
The statute of limitations for Article 78 proceedings is only four months. Thus, as soon as you have been wronged, the clock begins ticking, meaning you should not hesitate to consider your legal rights and remedies.