New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GOODWIN v. CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, #2000-014-504, Claim No. 100253, Motion No. M-60944


Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :
The Court has, sua sponte, amended the caption to just state the names of the claimants.
Footnote (defendant name) :
The allegations in the claim are against the City University of New York, the only properly named defendant, so the Court has, sua sponte, amended the caption to delete the State of New York. This Court does not have jurisdiction over Queens College as an entity distinct from the City University of New York, so the Court has, sua sponte, amended the caption to delete Queens College. Education Law §6224.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

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

S. Michael Nadel
Claimant's attorney:
Friedman & SimonBy: Edward D. Friedman
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Anne Pavlides, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 5, 2000
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers were read on the defendant's motion to dismiss the claim: Notice of Motion, Affirmation in Support and Exhibits annexed; Affirmation in Opposition and Exhibits annexed. Filed papers: Claim, Answer.

The claimant seeks to hold the defendant liable for injuries she sustained when, it is alleged, a window closed on her thumb, in room number 216 at Remsen Hall at Queens College, one of the senior colleges at the City University of New York (Education Law § 6224), where she is a student.

The defendant moves on its Ninth Affirmative Defense, to dismiss the claim on the ground that it does not satisfy the requirements of Court of Claims Act §11(b) because it fails to "include any particularization of the nature of the cause of action and the defendant's conduct in regard to it." Answer, ¶13.

The requirements of §11(b), including that "the claim shall state . . . the nature of same," have consistently been applied in the context of their purpose, which is to enable the defendant to investigate the claim promptly and to ascertain its own liability. Sega v State of New York, 246 AD2d 753, 755. "All elements of the claim need not be set out with formalistic rigidity, but it must convey notice to the [defendant] to enable it to properly investigate, defend, and/or settle the claim [citation omitted] . . . ." Harper v State of New York, 34 AD2d 865.

"What is required is not absolute exactness, but simply a statement made with sufficient definiteness to enable the [defendant] 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 [defendant]. In short, substantial compliance with section 11 is what is required [citations omitted]." Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d 767, at 767-768; see also, Sheils v State of New York, 249 AD2d 459; Schneider v State of New York, 234 AD2d 357; Riefler v State of New York, 228 AD2d 1000, 1001.

By this standard the claim, which, inter alia, refers to the contents of an incident report annexed to the claim, satisfies the requirements of Court of Claims Act §11(b). The incident report, apparently prepared by an employee of the defendant shortly after the incident, includes the following entry: "The aided stated that her left thumb was smashed when a hood window in room [???] slammed down on it when she removed a ring stand under the window. * * * I checked the hood window in Room 216 and found the window would not stay up, it would slam shut, I repeated the process a few times and it continued to do the same thing." As stated by the Court in Heisler v State of New York, supra, at 768: "The manner in which claimant was injured and how the defendant was negligent were stated or can be reasonably inferred [citation omitted]."

In accordance with the foregoing, the defendant's motion is denied.[1]

April 5, 2000
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]To the extent that the Assistant Attorney General has "noted" (in Paragraph 17 of the Affirmation in Support) that the"Notice of Claim" served on the City University differs from the claim filed with the Court and the one served on the Attorney General, the Court regards Paragraph 17 as in support of that portion of the motion pertaining to the timely service of the claim on the City University, which was withdrawn by letter dated February 28, 2000 from the Assistant Attorney General.