New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
NI'I' NE'E' v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-015-133, Claim No. 128989, Motion No. M-91961

Synopsis

Claim was dismissed for improper service, lack of jurisdiction, and failure to state a cause of action.

Case information

UID: 2018-015-133
Claimant(s): NI'I' NE'E'
Claimant short name: NI'I' NE'E'
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 128989
Motion number(s): M-91961
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: No Appearance
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Barbara D. Underwood, Attorney General
By: Paul F. Cagino, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: June 14, 2018
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant moves to dismiss the claim for improper service, lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a cause of action pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (2), (7) and (8).

Claimant, proceeding pro se, alleges he was arrested by members of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department on October 8, 2013 and confined in the Franklin County Jail until his release on October 28, 2013. Following the issuance of a warrant on August 19, 2014, claimant alleges that he was again arrested by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police on July 20, 2016 and confined in the Franklin County Jail until his release on October 1, 2016, although all charges against him were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction on September 20, 2016.

Defendant contends in support of its motion that the claim was served by ordinary mail rather than personal service or certified mail, return receipt requested, as required by Court of Claims Act 11 (a) (i). Defendant supports its motion with a copy of the envelope in which the claim was mailed, which contains none of the indicia of a certified mailing (see defendant's Exhibit A). Defendant also contends that this Court lacks jurisdiction over the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department and the County of Franklin, and that the claim therefore fails to state a cause of action against the State of New York.

Court of Claims Act 11 (a) (i) requires that a claim be filed with the Clerk of the Court and that "a copy shall be served personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, upon the attorney general . . ." Absent waiver of the defense of improper service of the claim (Court of Claims Act 11 [c]), service of the claim by ordinary mail is insufficient to acquire jurisdiction over the defendant (Encarnacion v State of New York, 133 AD3d 1049 [3d Dept 2015], lv denied 26 NY3d 919 [2016]; Brown v State of New York, 114 AD3d 632 [2d Dept 2014]; Fulton v State of New York, 35 AD3d 977 [3d Dept 2006], lv denied 8 NY3d 809 [2007]; Govan v State of New York, 301 AD2d 757 [3d Dept 2003], lv denied 99 NY2d 510 [2003]; Thompson v State of New York, 286 AD2d 831 [3d Dept 2001]). As the filing and service requirements of Court of Claims Act 10 and 11 are jurisdictional in nature, they must be strictly construed (Lurie v State of New York, 73 AD2d 1006, 1007 [3d Dept 1980], affd 52 NY2d 849 [1981]; see also Dreger v New York State Thruway Auth., 81 NY2d 721, 724 [1992]).

Defendant established, through submission of a copy of the envelope in which it was mailed, that the claim was improperly served by ordinary mail rather than one of the methods prescribed by Court of Claims Act 11 (a) (i). Inasmuch as the defendant preserved its objection to the manner of service by raising it as an affirmative defense in its answer, the claim must be dismissed.

Moreover, the Court of Claims is a Court of limited jurisdiction empowered to award damages in appropriation, contract or tort for claims against the State of New York (see NY Const, art VI, 9; Court of Claims Act 9) and certain other specified entities (see, e.g., Education Law 6224 [4]; Public Authorities Law 361-b and 2622). Neither the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department nor the County of Franklin are entities which may be sued in the Court of Claims.

Lastly, while the State of New York was included in the caption of the claim, no conduct by a State employee or agent is alleged so as to state a cause of action against the State. Accepting the facts alleged in the claim as true, and according the claimant the benefit of every possible favorable inference, the claim nevertheless fails to state a cause of action against the State of New York (EBC I, Inc. v Goldman, Sachs & Co., 5 NY3d 11, 19 [2005]; Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87-88 [1994]).

Accordingly, the defendant's motion is granted, without opposition, and the claim is dismissed.

June 14, 2018

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were considered:

1. Notice of motion to dismiss dated March 13, 2018;

2. Affirmation of Paul F. Cagino dated March 13, 2018, with Exhibits A and B;

3. Letter with supplemental affidavit of service sworn to March 27, 2018.