New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BAYNE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2019-058-006, Claim No. 133169, Motion No. M-94299

Synopsis

Defendant's Motion pursuant to CPLR 3211 and Court of Claims Act 11 (b) granted; Claimant failed to allege any specific negligent act committed by the State that precipitated his injuries

Case information

UID: 2019-058-006
Claimant(s): ANTHONY BAYNE
Claimant short name: BAYNE
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 133169
Motion number(s): M-94299
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: CATHERINE E. LEAHY-SCOTT
Claimant's attorney: Anthony Bayne, Pro Se (No Appearance)
Defendant's attorney: Hon. Letitia James, Attorney General
By: Dorothy M. Keogh, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: September 17, 2019
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

On June 3, 2019, pro se Claimant Anthony Bayne filed this Claim alleging that he suffered personal injuries at Sing Sing Correctional Facility on May 15, 2019 when the cover of a light fixture in his cell fell and struck him in the head.

Defendant moves pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (2) and (a) (7) and Court of Claims Act 11 (b) to dismiss the Claim. Specifically, Defendant argues that the Claim fails to allege any specific negligent acts committed by the State that caused Claimant's injuries. Claimant has not filed any papers in opposition to the motion.

On a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211, the Court will "accept the facts as alleged in the complaint as true, accord plaintiffs the benefit of every possible favorable inference, and determine only whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory" (Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87-88 [1994]). "When a party moves to dismiss a complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211(a) (7), the standard is whether the pleading states a cause of action, not whether the proponent of the pleading has a cause of action" (Sokol v Leader, 74 AD3d 1180, 1180-1181 [2d Dept 2010]).

Court of Claims Act 11 (b) provides that "[t]he 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 . . . the total sum claimed."

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 New York, 78 AD2d 767, 768 [4th Dept 1980] [internal citations omitted]; 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]).

In general, the State has a duty to maintain its property, including its correctional facilities, in a reasonably safe condition (see Preston v State of New York, 59 NY2d 997, 998 [1983]; Basso v Miller, 40 NY2d 233, 241 [1976]; Guzman v State of New York, 129 AD3d 775, 776 [2d Dept 2015]; Bowers v State of New York, 241 AD2d 760, 760 [3d Dept 1997]; Emmi v State of New York, 143 AD2d 876, 878 [2d Dept 1988]). The State, however, is not an "insurer of inmate safety, and negligence will not be inferred from the mere occurrence of an accident" (Melendez v State of New York, 283 AD2d 729, 729 [3d Dept 2001], lv dismissed 97 NY2d 649 [2001]). In a premises liability claim, a claimant must show that an unsafe or dangerous condition existed on the premises, that the State either created the dangerous condition, or had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition, and failed to alleviate the dangerous condition within a reasonable time (see Gordon v Museum of Natural History, 67 NY2d 836, 837-838 [1986]; Quintanilla v State of New York, 94 AD3d 846 [2d Dept 2012]).

After careful review, the Court finds that the Claim fails to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted and does not comply with the mandates of Court of Claims Act 11 (b) as Claimant fails to allege any specific negligent act committed by the State that precipitated his injuries. In particular, Claimant does not allege that the State created the dangerous condition--an unsecure light fixture cover--or had actual or constructive notice of the same and failed to take action to remedy such condition in a reasonable time (see Chaikin v Karipas, 162 AD3d 842, 843 [2d Dept 2016] ["the complaint did not allege facts which, if proven, would establish that the defendants breached a duty of care to maintain their property, so as to set forth a cognizable cause of action alleging negligence"]).

Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED, that Defendant's motion number M-94299 is granted and Claim No. 133169 is DISMISSED.

September 17, 2019

Albany, New York

CATHERINE E. LEAHY-SCOTT

Judge of the Court of Claims

1) Notice of Motion to Dismiss, dated July 12, 2019.

2) Affirmation of Dorothy M. Keogh, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, dated July 12, 2019 with exhibit.