New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

Thomas v. The State of New York, #2000-011-501, Claim No. None, Motion No. M-60872


Motion for permission to late file a claim in which it is alleged that claimant was forcefully removed from his cell when he was suffering from a mental illness and that the defendant's failure to first consult a psychologist was negligent and resulted in injury to claimant.

Case Information

Stephen Thomas
Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

The State of New York
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Thomas J. McNamara
Claimant's attorney:
Stephen Thomas, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Dennis M. Acton, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 9, 2000.
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The claimant, Stephen Thomas, has made an application for permission to file a late claim

pursuant to Section 10(6) of the Court of Claims Act.

The proposed claim alleges that Claimant suffered injuries when he was forcefully removed from his cell. According to Claimant, he was suffering from a mental illness at the time and a psychologist should have been brought in to talk to Claimant before force was employed.

When considering a motion for permission to late file a claim, the court is required to address six factors enumerated in Court of Claims Act §10(6). The first of those factors is whether there is

a reasonable excuse for the delay in filing. The excuses offered by Claimant, his lack of training in legal matters and illness resulting from the incident, are not acceptable reasons for the delay. Claimant timely served and filed a claim but apparently, served the pleading other than personally or by certified mail. Consequently, any illness Claimant may have been suffering was not a factor in delay. In addition, no explanation is offered as to how Claimant knew to serve and file the claim within a given time but was unaware of the manner of service requirement.

Other factors to be considered are whether Defendant had notice of the essential facts of the claim and an opportunity to investigate. Service of the claim upon Defendant within ninety days of accrual, albeit by an improper method, provided notice and an opportunity to investigate. Timely service of a claim also establishes that the delay in filing has not caused substantial prejudice to Defendant.

Also to be considered is whether the proposed claim has an appearance of merit. A claim is said to have merit when it is not patently groundless, frivolous or legally defective and there is reason to believe that a valid cause of action exists (Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway Auth., 92 Misc 2d 1). The circumstances as alleged in the proposed claim are insufficient to establish a legal duty on the part of Defendant to consult a psychologist before forcefully removing Claimant from his cell. This is particularly so given that Claimant has not offered any evidentiary proof to support his assertion that he was suffering from a mental illness at the time.

No adequate alternate remedy is available.

On balance, consideration of the factors in CCA §10(6) weigh against granting the motion and accordingly, it is denied.

March 9, 2000.
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The court has read and considered the following papers:

  1. Notice of Motion and affidavit in support sworn to the 30th day of November, 1999 with exhibits attached.
  2. Affidavit in Opposition of Dennis M. Action, Esq., sworn to the 10th day of December, 1999.
  3. Reply affidavit of claimant sworn to the 3rd day of January, 2000.