New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
WILLIAMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2019-059-002, Claim No. , Motion No. M-94270

Synopsis

Case information

UID: 2019-059-002
Claimant(s): DAKOTA WILLIAMS
Claimant short name: WILLIAMS
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s):
Motion number(s): M-94270
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: MAUREEN T. LICCIONE
Claimant's attorney: DAKOTA WILLIAMS, pro se
Defendant's attorney: HON. LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL
By: Dorothy M. Keogh, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: August 23, 2019
City: Central Islip
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The movant ("Movant" or "Williams") pro se, an inmate incarcerated in Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Sing Sing"), has brought a motion dated May 15, 2019 seeking permission to file and serve a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act 10 (6) ("Section 10 (6)"). The defendant ("Defendant" or "State") opposes the motion.

Movant's application is supported by his own affidavit in which he states that he was assaulted by another inmate who had been with him in the SHU recreation cage at Sing Sing. The notice of motion indicates March 5, 2017 as the date of the incident, and the affidavit in support gives a March 4, 2017 date. Movant alleges negligence on the part of Defendant insofar as he claims it failed to protect him from an assault by another inmate. Movant contends that the inmate who assaulted him previously had threatened him. Williams further alleges that he had notified correction officers at Sing Sing "multiple times" of the previous threats and that he was "scared" of the assaultive inmate. Movant further contends that a corrections officer "put a hit" on him by placing both the alleged assailant and him in the same "recreation cage." Movant asserts that the alleged assault resulted in a laceration to Movant's eye which required sixteen stitches as well as having caused swelling and pain and suffering.

In opposition, the State argues that the motion must be denied because Movant failed to submit a proposed claim, and that movant failed to offer a valid excuse for the delay in filing and serving a claim.

The application was filed within the relevant statute of limitations, and the Court therefore has jurisdiction to grant relief under Section 10 (6). In determining whether late claim relief is appropriate, the Court must consider the factors listed in the statute (see Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV v New York State Employees' Retirement Sys. Policemen's & Firemen's Retirement Sys., 55 NY2d 979, 981 [1982]). Those factors are whether: the delay in filing the claim was excusable; defendant had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim; defendant had an opportunity to investigate; defendant was substantially prejudiced; the claim appears to be meritorious; and the claimant has any other available remedy. These factors are not necessarily exhaustive, nor is the presence or absence of any particular factor controlling (id.).

The statute further requires that "[t]he claim proposed to be filed, containing all of the information set forth in section eleven of this act, shall accompany such application" (Court of Claims Act 10 [6]).

While Williams alleges in his supporting affidavit that the proposed claim is attached as an exhibit, no such document is attached to his papers.

Since the application submitted does not include a proposed claim it is procedurally defective and must be denied (see Davis v State of New York, 28 AD2d 609 [3d Dept 1967]; see e.g. Thomas v State of New York, UID No. 2008-044-577 [Ct Cl, Schaewe, J, Sept. 9, 2018] [late claim motion denied because claimant failed to attach a proposed claim]).

In its opposition, the State also argues that Williams failed to provide an adequate excuse for his delay in filing a claim. In his affidavit, Movant states that his delay is excusable because as a layperson, he was not aware of the 90-day filing and service requirements of the Court of Claims Act. Movant further sets forth other factors which he contends also contributed to his failure to timely file his claim, specifically "my incarceration in [sic] prison systems, my limited ability to confer with counsel, and my lack of access to legal references." Ignorance of the law, however, is not an acceptable explanation for the failure to timely serve and file a claim (Matter of Galvin v State of New York, 176 AD2d 1185 [3d Dept 1991], lv denied, 79 NY2d 753 [1992]). Williams also states that his ability to file a claim was impeded by his confinement in a special housing unit and due to several transfers. Similarly, the mere fact that a claimant is incarcerated, combined with conclusory allegations that he is without access to legal references, also does not qualify as a reasonable explanation (see Matter of Sandlin v State of New York, 294 AD2d 723 [3d Dept 2002], lv dismissed 99 NY2d 589 [2003]). The Court finds that Movant has failed to present an acceptable excuse for failing to timely serve and file his claim.(1)

Accordingly, Movant's motion no. M-94270 is denied.

Central Islip

August 23, 2019

MAUREEN T. LICCIONE

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were read and considered on this motion:

1. Notice of motion filed May 24, 2019; Affidavit of Dakota Williams sworn to May 15, 2019, and attached exhibits.

2. Affirmation in Opposition of Dorothy M. Keogh, AAG, dated June 12, 2019.

August 23, 2019

Central Islip, New York

MAUREEN T. LICCIONE

Judge of the Court of Claims


1. The Court notes, however, that presentation of a reasonable excuse is only one of several factors taken into consideration by the Court when considering whether to grant Section 10 (6) relief, and is not by itself determinative (see Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV, supra; see also Matter of Carvalho v State of New York, 176 AD2d 317 [2d Dept 1991]).