There is something called a 50h (which can be found in all its glory right here). A 50h is actually just the name of the title of the law. It is a hearing (no, the word “hearing” has nothing to do with the letter ‘h’ in 50h – it is just a coincidence) that is granted to a City (municipality) any time a notice of claim is filed against them. Why is this granted to the City when they are sued and not to you when you are? Because the City has friends in the State legislature, and you don’t 🙂 Although the City has a right to request this hearing, they are not obliged to. The City typically does request a hearing when there is an attorney listed as counsel on the matter, and typically, but not always, does not when the claim is filed pro se (meaning without an attorney).
But what is this hearing? Well, it’s not as fancy as it sounds. It’s not really a hearing at all. There is no judge, no courtroom, no gallery of media, and for the most part, no grilling or cross examination like you see in Law & Order on TV. This 50h hearing is in actuality just a short deposition to find out the basic facts surrounding the claim that was filed. They typically last half an hour in length (although that varies tremendously based on the nature of the claim, the damages, and even the attorney handling the hearing – some can last for days) and are held in a small conference room. The conference room usually has just these four people in it: You (the claimant), your attorney (if you have one), the stenographer (to type it all down), and the attorney asking you questions. That’s it! The attorney will ask you a bunch of basic questions about yourself and then about the claim and the stenographer will type it all down. You’re then free to go. In about two weeks (longer or shorter depending on the stenographers schedule) you will receive a fully transcribed printout of the deposition.
The hearing is in fact a short deposition and must stick mostly to all things deemed relevant to the claim. Typically who you are is relevant, so expect questions like what school you went to, kids names, etc… That being said, because the City is entitled to this hearing, if one is requested, you must comply in order to have a valid claim. If you’re in Rikers Island and a 50h deposition is requested of you, the short answer is, no, you can’t make it. You will not be released from Rikers to conduct a 50h and the City is not obligated to conduct one in Rikers Island (even though you are obligated to comply with their 50h request – yes, it is completely biased and unfair). However, if a lawsuit has been filed, but a 50h has not yet been conducted, your attorney can then motion to have you pulled to conduct the 50h. But at that point, you are a plaintiff, and not just a claimant, and a judge has ordered it so the City complies.
We hope this answered at least some of your questions about a 50h. Have others? Fill out the info here and someone will contact you immediately.