New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CAZEAU v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-015-055, Claim No. 102194, Motion No. M-61653


Service of a claim upon the Attorney General by ordinary mail is not sufficient to acquire jurisdiction of the State.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

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

Claimant's attorney:
Charles Cazeau, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Eileen E. Bryant, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 2, 2000
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The motion of the defendant for an order pursuant to CPLR 3211 dismissing the claim for lack of jurisdiction is granted. This is a claim by an inmate appearing pro se to recover the sum of $537.42 as the reasonable value of items of personal property allegedly lost through the negligence of employees of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) at the Oneida Correctional Facility Draft Process Room on December 7, 1999. The claim was served upon the Attorney General by ordinary mail and received at his office on March 28, 2000. The defendant seeks dismissal upon the grounds that the claim was not served and filed within 90 days of accrual as required by Court of Claims Act § 10 (3) and the service by ordinary mail was defective pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 11 which requires services either personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested. The claimant does not contend that he properly served the claim, but instead argues that he followed the procedures set forth in a pamphlet entitled "How to File Your Claim" prepared by Prisoner's Legal Services. It appears that claimant misunderstood the direction contained in the pamphlet as the document clearly states in the sentence highlighted by claimant with a yellow magic marker that the service must either be personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Since this claim to recover for lost personal property accrued on December 7, 1999 it is governed by subdivision (9) of section 10 of the Court of Claims Act (Mathis v State of New York, Ct Cl, July 13, 2000, [Claim No. 102059, Motion No. M-61437], Collins, J., a copy of which is annexed), which provides as follows:
A claim of any inmate in the custody of the department of correctional services for recovery of damages for injury to or loss of personal property may not be filed unless and until the inmate has exhausted the personal property claims administrative remedy, established for inmates by the department. Such claim must be filed and served within one hundred twenty days after the date on which the inmate has exhausted such remedy.
Pursuant to section 10(9) this claim is not eligible to be filed until 120 days after the final determination of claimant's administrative remedy, an event which it appears has not yet occurred. In addition, service of the claim upon the Attorney General by ordinary mail rather than personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, is insufficient to acquire jurisdiction over the State requiring the granting of the dismissal motion (Philippe v State of New York, 248 AD2d 827).

August 2, 2000
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated May 4, 2000;
  2. Affirmation of Eileen E. Bryant dated May 4, 2000, with exhibits;
  3. Unsworn letter in opposition of Charles Cazeau dated May 23, 2000, with exhibits.