New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
MANZ v. THE PEOPLE OF STATE OF NY

STATE OF NY HOLLY STOMAN, DR. DAVID HEFFLER (MHU) JOLIE CURTIS. ASHLEY KRASKAN, WILLIAM COLLINS, DENNIS RANKIN SHERIFF OFFICER, ULTER CTY, TRUCY A.K.A TUEY, JUDGE MURPHY UNDER THEIR OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY

, # 2020-053-545, Claim No. 134568, Motion No. M-95910

Synopsis

A defendant, who was sued in his individual capacity, brought a motion to dismiss the claim for lack of jurisdiction. This motion was granted but his request for attorneys fees was denied.

Case information

UID: 2020-053-545
Claimant(s): BRENT T. MANZ
Claimant short name: MANZ
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE PEOPLE OF STATE OF NY
STATE OF NY HOLLY STOMAN, DR. DAVID HEFFLER (MHU) JOLIE CURTIS. ASHLEY KRASKAN, WILLIAM COLLINS, DENNIS RANKIN SHERIFF OFFICER, ULTER CTY, TRUCY A.K.A TUEY, JUDGE MURPHY UNDER THEIR OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY
Footnote (defendant name) : The motion title brought by defendant differs from that in the claim, and was changed by the Court, sua sponte, to accurately reflect the defendants listed in the claim.
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 134568
Motion number(s): M-95910
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: J. DAVID SAMPSON
Claimant's attorney: BRENT J. MANZ, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: For Defendant David Heffler;
FELDMAN KIEFFER, LLP
By: Stephen A. Manuele, Esq.
For New York State Defendants:
HON. LETITIA JAMES
New York State Attorney General
BY: Carlton K. Brownell, III, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: December 9, 2020
City: Buffalo
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Pro se claimant Brent J. Manz alleges in claim no. 134568 that the named defendants in their official and individual capacities maliciously prosecuted and unlawfully imprisoned him. Defendant David Heffler, incorrectly named in the claim as David Heffer, moves this Court to dismiss the claim against him for lack of jurisdiction. Claimant failed to appear or otherwise oppose defendant David Heffler's motion.

The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction, with the authority to hear claims against the State of New York and certain public authorities for the torts of their officers and employees (NY Const Art VI, Court of Claims Act 9). Individuals cannot be sued in their individual capacities in the Court of Claims, even if they are employees of the State of New York (Smith v State of New York, 72 AD2d 937 [4th Dept 1979]).(2) In addition, claims against a State officer for conduct undertaken in an official capacity and in the exercise of an official governmental function are essentially claims against the State of New York (Morell v Balasubramanian, 70 NY2d 297 [1987]; Woodward v State of New York, 23 AD3d 852 [3d Dept 2005]). Thus, to the extent that the claim makes allegations against the moving defendant, David Heffler, as well as against any of the remaining, individually named defendants it must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The only proper defendant is the State of New York (Topol v The State of New York, UID no. 2017-045-043 [Ct Cl, Lopez-Summa, J., Dec. 8, 2017]). (3)

Defendant David Heffler further moves for attorneys's fees pursuant to CPLR 8303-a. Section 27 of the Court of Claims Act provides that attorney's fees shall not be allowed except as provided in section 701 of the eminent domain procedure or as in sections 3126 and 8303-a of the civil practice law and rules. CPLR 8303-a provides for costs in frivolous claims and counterclaims. Defendant, however, has failed to present any authority or precedent on which the Court could rely to sanction a pro se litigant who is unfamiliar with the Court's jurisdiction. Thus, defendant David Heffler's motion for attorney's fees is denied.

Accordingly, defendant David Heffler's motion no. M-95910 to dismiss claim no. 134568 as against him is granted, and his motion for attorney fees is denied. In addition, the Court sua sponte also dismisses the claim as against the remaining individually named defendants in their official and individual capacity for lack of jurisdiction and as such dismisses the claim as against defendants Holly Stoman, Julie Curtis (Jolie Curtis), Ashley Kenska (Ashley Krasken), William Collins, Dennis Rankin and Judge Murphy.

December 9, 2020

Buffalo, New York

J. DAVID SAMPSON

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following were read and considered by the Court:

1. Notice of motion and affirmation of Stephen A. Manuele, Esq. dated September 16, 2020, with annexed Exhibits A-B.


2. At paragraph 11 of the supporting affirmation of the moving defendant's counsel, Stephen A. Manuele, Esq., it is stated that defendant David Heffler was not an officer or employee of the State of New York.

3. A separate motion to dismiss the claim has been brought on behalf of the State of New York.