New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CROGAN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-015-098, Claim No. 102393, Motion Nos. M-62115, CM-62286


Claim alleging accident on bike path dismissed for failure to provide specifics of location and cause of the accident. Cross-motion to amend jurisdictionally defective claim denied.

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:
Grasso, Rodriguez, Grasso & ZyraBy: Lawrence J. Zyra, Esquire
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Eileen E. Bryant, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
November 2, 2000
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The defendant's motion to dismiss the instant claim for failure to comply with the pleading requirements contained in Court of Claims Act § 11 (b) is granted. The motion of the claimant for permission to amend the claim is denied. This is a claim to recover money damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained by the claimant while riding his bicycle along a bike path located in the Town of Rotterdam, Schenectady County. By this motion, the defendant moves to dismiss arguing that neither the "Notice of Intention to file a Claim" served upon the Attorney General's office on July 31, 1998 nor the "Notice of Claim" served on May 2, 2000 contain factual allegations concerning the condition which caused the claimant's accident or the acts of negligence on the part of the State, its employees or agents which form the basis of the claim. The defendant asserts that the failure to describe either the location of the accident or the manner in which the State is alleged to have been negligent constitutes a failure to comply with the statutory mandate of Court of Claims Act § 11 (b) which provides, in part, that the "claim shall state the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, and the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained and the total sum claimed."

The claimant has opposed the motion and cross-moved pursuant to CPLR 3025 (b) to amend the claim. The cross-motion is supported by a brief affirmation of claimant's counsel and a nearly identical and equally brief affidavit of the claimant in which each affiant alleges that the description of the accident was as specific as could be provided in the absence of signs or landmarks in the area at the time the claim or notice of intention was prepared. Claimant also submitted a copy of a transcript of claimant's testimony at a General Municipal Law § 50-h hearing held in conjunction with a separate action brought by the claimant against the Town of Rotterdam and County of Schenectady. No copy of a proposed amended claim was submitted on the cross-motion.

The claim, in relevant part, states as follows:
3. That the time when said damages/injuries were sustained was 18th of May, 1998.

4. That the particular place where said damages/injuries were sustained was near Lock 8 on the bike path, Rotterdam, New York.

5. That the damages/injuries sustained are as follows: left arm involving the muscle, tissue ligaments and vessels.

6. This claim is one against the State of New York for personal injuries arising in negligence.

7. The said injuries for which claim is made arose in the following manner: The claimant sustained serious injuries as above set forth. Although it knew or should have known of such condition, and the negligence of the state, its agents, servants and/or employees caused the injuries herein stated, resulting in injury, conscious pain and suffering to the claimant.

8. This claim is made for damages as follows:

A. Personal injuries $250,000

B. Other damages: $ 50,000

TOTAL $300,000
In the first instance, the pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act § 11 (b) are jurisdictional in nature and must be strictly construed (Park v State of New York, 226 AD2d 153). While a notice of intention to file a claim will be deemed sufficient if it substantially complies with the pleading requirements of the Court of Claims Act, more is required of a claim (Ferrugia v State of New York, 237 AD2d 858). A claim must set forth a cause of action against the State and, at the very least, assert in some factual manner the nature of the State's alleged negligence (Bonaparte v State of New York, 175 AD2d 683). The onus to comply with the pleading prerequisites contained in section 11 (b) is upon the claimant and the State "is not required to go beyond a claim or notice of intention in order to investigate an occurrence or ascertain information which should be provided pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 11" (Grande v State of New York, 160 Misc 2d 383, 386).

The claim is clearly insufficient to meet the requirements of Court of Claims Act § 11 (b). The allegation that the claimant's injuries were sustained "near Lock 8 on the Bike Path" together with the lack of any specific allegation of negligence on the part of the State does not "provide a sufficiently detailed description of the particulars of the claim to enable the State to investigate and promptly ascertain the existence and extent of its liability" (Sinski v State of New York, 265 AD2d 319). The failure to comply with the procedural requirements contained in section 11 (b) results in a lack of jurisdiction and requires the granting of the defendant's dismissal motion. Having determined that the Court lacks jurisdiction, the claimant's cross motion to amend the claim must be denied as "a jurisdictional defect may not be remedied by amendment of the original claim" (Martin v State of New York, ____ Misc 2d ____, 713 NYS2d 831).

November 2, 2000
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated July 31, 2000;
  2. Affirmation of Eileen E. Bryant dated July 31, 2000;
  3. Notice of cross-motion dated August 30, 2000;
  4. Affirmation of Elissa R. Topolski dated August 29, 2000;
  5. Affidavit of John Crogan sworn to August 29, 2000;
  6. Affirmation of Eileen E. Bryant dated September 5, 2000.