New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
MURRAY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2017-041-079, Claim No. 124098, Motion No. M-90936

Synopsis

Defendant's motion to dismiss claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because it fails to adequately state the nature of the claim, as required by Court of Claims Act 11 (b), is granted.

Case information

UID: 2017-041-079
Claimant(s): ROBERT MURRAY
Claimant short name: MURRAY
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 124098
Motion number(s): M-90936
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANK P. MILANO
Claimant's attorney: NONE
Defendant's attorney: HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
New York State Attorney General
By: Christina Calabrese, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: November 13, 2017
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant moves to dismiss the claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because it lacks the particularity required pursuant to Court of Claims Act 11 (b) and CPLR 3013. Claimant has not opposed the defendant's motion.

Defendant asserts that claimant has failed to sufficiently set forth the nature of the claim as required by Court of Claims Act 11 (b), thus depriving the Court of jurisdiction.

Court of Claims Act 11 (b) provides that:

"The claim shall state the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained and, except in an action to recover damages for personal injury, medical, dental or podiatric malpractice or wrongful death, the total sum claimed."

A claim against the State is permissible only as a result of the State's waiver of sovereign immunity and the statutory requirements conditioning suit must therefore be strictly construed (Kolnacki v State of New York 8 NY3d 277, 280 [2007]). The Kolnacki court noted that the requirements of section 11 (b) are "substantive conditions upon the State's waiver of sovereign immunity" (quoting Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201, 207 [2003]) and that the failure to satisfy any of the conditions is a jurisdictional defect (Kolnacki, 8 NY3d at 280-281). The Kolnacki decision stresses that "nothing less than strict compliance with the jurisdictional requirements of the Court of Claims Act is necessary" (Kolnacki, 8 NY3d at 281).

The standard of review in assessing whether a claim complies with section 11 (b) as to adequately stating the nature of the claim is well-settled:

"What is required is not absolute exactness, but simply a statement made with sufficient definiteness to enable the State to be able to investigate the claim promptly and to ascertain its liability under the circumstances. The statement must be specific enough so as not to mislead, deceive or prejudice the rights of the State. In short, substantial compliance with section 11 is what is required . . . . Conclusory or general allegations of negligence that fail to adduce the manner in which the claimant was injured and how the State was negligent do not meet its requirements" (Heisler v State of State of New York, 78 AD2d 767, 768 [4th Dept 1980]; see Cendales v State of New York, 2 AD3d 1165, 1167 [3d Dept 2003]; Sega v State of New York, 246 AD2d 753, 755 [3d Dept 1998], lv denied 92 NY2d 805 [1998]).

The claim states that it arose at Clinton Correctional Facility, Upstate Correctional Facility and Five Points Correctional Facility and that: "[o]n 5-16-13 I was Beat up By STAFF on 8-1-13 I was sent up to go to the BOX Because I file claims in The Courts all my property was in STAFF posetion [sic] I was in UPSTATE Corr. I was sent to Comstock and then TO Five Points Corr. Fac. all my property is gone All I was given was some Legel [sic] mail . . . This is my Claim attach." The claim allegedly accrued on May 16, 2013 at 10:30 and on "11-19-2013."

The strict pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act 11 (b) were reiterated in Rivera v State of New York (52 AD3d 1075 [3d Dept 2008]):

"Statutory conditions placed on claims against defendant must be strictly construed, mandating a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction if the claim does not meet the substantive pleading requirements found in Court of Claims Act 11 (b)."

The Rivera court, quoting Lepkowski (1 NY3d at 208) reminded that:

"The Court of Claims Act does not require [defendant] to ferret out or assemble information that section 11 (b) obligates the claimant to allege."

At best, though confusing and vague, the claim appears to allege that claimant was assaulted by defendant's staff on May 16, 2013 and was placed in some type of restrictive housing on August 1, 2013, allegedly, as retaliation for claimant filing unstated court proceedings. The claim further appears to allege that claimant's personal property was lost during transfers between facilities.

The claim fails to set forth any specific physical injuries, fails to state the nature of any retaliatory disciplinary proceedings or list any specific items of lost property. The claim makes no specific demand for money damages.

After careful review, the Court finds that the claim is a vague, conclusory and scattershot jumble of various dates, locations and allegations which lack "sufficient definiteness to enable the State to be able to investigate the claim promptly and to ascertain its liability under the circumstances" (Heisler, 78 AD2d at 768 ).

Claimant has failed to comply with the substantive pleading requirements of section 11 (b) of the Court of Claims Act and the Court therefore lacks jurisdiction over the claim.

The defendant's motion is granted.

The claim is accordingly dismissed.

November 13, 2017

Albany, New York

FRANK P. MILANO

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Defendant's Notice of Motion to Dismiss, filed August 17, 2017;

2. Affirmation of Christina Calabrese, dated August 17, 2017, and attached exhibits.