New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
STEGEMAN v. STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2021-032-065, Claim No. 135550, Motion No. M-96372

Synopsis

Case information

UID: 2021-032-065
Claimant(s): NICHOLAS STEGEMAN, 15-A-1033
Claimant short name: STEGEMAN
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 135550
Motion number(s): M-96372
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: JUDITH A. HARD
Claimant's attorney: Nicholas Stegeman, 15-A-1033, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Hon. Letitia James, Attorney General
By: Ray A. Kyles, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: June 29, 2021
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se, filed the instant claim on October 30, 2020, seeking damages for injuries sustained when he was burned by boiling water while working in the kitchen at Five Points Correctional Facility (FPCF) October 4, 2019. The claim also alleges that FPCF staff was negligent and commited medical malpractice while treating his burns. The claim alleges that claimant received medical treatment through October 9, 2019 and his work restrictions were canceled on October 11, 2019 (Affirmation of Ray A. Kyles, AAG, Exhibit D). Defendant moves to dismiss the claim on the ground that the notice of intention to file a claim served upon the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on November 8, 2019 failed to comply with Court of Claims Act 11 (b) and therefore failed to extend the time for claimant to file and serve a claim under Court of Claims Act 10 (3). Claimant opposes the motion.

Court of Claims Act 11 (b) "places five specific substantive conditions upon the State's waiver of sovereign immunity by requiring the claim [or notice of intention to file a claim] to specify (1) the nature of [the claim]; (2) the time when it arose; (3) the place where it arose; (4) the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained; and (5) the total sum claimed" (Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d at 206 [internal quotation marks omitted]). "Absolute exactness is not required, but the claim must enable prompt investigation and be sufficiently specific to enable [a] defendant to reasonably infer the basis for its alleged liability" (Davila v State of New York, 140 AD3d 1415, 1416 [3d Dept. 2016] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see Morra v State of New York, 107 AD3d 1115, 1115 [3d Dept. 2013]; Deep v State of New York, 56 AD3d 1260, 1261 [4th Dept. 2008]).

As relevant here, "[a] claimant seeking to recover damages for personal injuries caused by the negligence, intentional tort or unintentional tort of an officer or employee of the State must file and serve a claim or, alternatively, a notice of intention to file such a claim, upon the Attorney General within 90 days after the accrual thereof" (Maude V. v New York State Off. of Children & Family Servs., 82 AD3d 1468, 1469 [3d Dept. 2011]; see Court of Claims Act 10 [3], [3-b]). Claims for negligence may be filed and served within two years of accrual where a notice of intention to file a claim is served (Court of Claims Act 10 [3]).

Here, claimant's notice of intention to file a claim states: "the nature of my claim is intentional tort" (Kyles Aff., Exhibit A). Although the notice of intention to file a claim lists the date that the claim accrued, it is completely bereft of any allegations that would enable defendant to promptly investigate the claim and infer the basis for its alleged liability (Davila v State of New York, 140 AD3d at 1416). Therefore, the notice of intention to file a claim fails to comply with Court of Claims Act 11 (b) and did not extend the time to file and serve a claim. Because the latest date of wrongdoing alleged in the claim is October 11, 2019, claimant was required to file and serve a claim, or file a notice of intention to file a claim that complied with Court of Claims Act 11 (b), no later than January 9, 2020. As claimant failed to do so, the claim filed on October 30, 2020 and served upon the OAG on December 2, 2020 is untimely and must be dismissed.

Claimant argues that the Court should disregard his error in failing to specify the nature of the claim in the notice of intention to file a claim, pursuant to CPLR 2001. CPLR 2001 permits the Court to allow omissions in pleadings to be corrected. However, CPLR 2001 does not allow a claimant to correct jurisdictional errors, such as the failure to comply with Court of Claims Act 11 (b) (see Poulos v State of New York, UID No. 2020-038-550 [Ct Cl, DeBow, J., Sept. 8, 2020]). Claimant also argues that CPLR 3026 allows defects in pleadings to be ignored "if a substantial right of a party is not prejudiced." CPLR 3026 is also inapplicable, as the Court cannot ignore a defect where the defect is the complete omission of a jurisdictional requirement (see Corris v White, 29 AD2d 470, 472 [4th Dept. 1968]). Court of Claims Act 9 (8) is also inapplicable.

Based upon the foregoing, defendant's motion to dismiss the claim (M-96372) is granted. Claim number 135550 is dismissed.

June 29, 2021

Albany, New York

JUDITH A. HARD

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Notice of Motion, dated January 6, 2021; and Affirmation in Support of Motion to Dismiss, affirmed by Ray A. Kyles, AAG on January 6, 2021 with Exhibits A through D annexed thereto.

2. Answer to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, sworn to by claimant on January 15, 2021, with Exhibit A annexed thereto.