New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CHAMBLE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-016-073, Claim No. None, Motion No. M-58884


Late claim motion of pro se inmate alleging injury while unloading boxes was 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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Valerie Chamble
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Richard Lombardo, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 5, 2000
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is the motion of Valerie Chamble for permission to file a late claim pursuant to §10.6 of the Court of Claims Act (the "Act"). In her proposed claim, Chamble asserts that on April 9, 1997, she injured her wrist while unloading boxes off a truck at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Claimant contends that she should not have been assigned the job, i.e., the boxes were too heavy and should have been lifted by the truck driver. She further contends that her injury was made worse because she was required to continue working (cleaning pots and pans) for four hours following the incident. Claimant served the Attorney General with a notice of intention on June 20, 1997, but never served or filed a claim.

In determining whether to grant this motion, the six factors enumerated in the Act must be considered. The factors are not necessarily exhaustive, nor is the presence or absence of any particular one controlling[1]: whether (1) the defendant had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim; (2) the defendant had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances underlying the claim; (3) the defendant was substantially prejudiced; (4) the claimant has any other available remedy; (5) the delay was excusable and (6) the claim appears to be meritorious.

The first, second and third factors -- whether the state had notice of the essential facts, whether the state had an opportunity to investigate and whether the state would be prejudiced by the granting of this motion are intertwined and may be considered together. See Brewer v State of New York, 176 Misc 2d 337, 342, 672 NYS2d 650, 655 (Ct Cl 1998). In this case, Chamble's notice of intention was served approximately two months after the incident. Defendant was thus provided with sufficient opportunity to investigate and prepare its defenses. Accordingly, Chamble satisfies the notice-opportunity-prejudice factors of the Act.

As to alternative remedy, it appears undisputed that a claim against the state in this Court is Chamble's sole remedy. As to excuse, she states that she was unaware of the filing requirements of the Court of Claims. Unfamiliarity with the law does not excuse late filing. See, e.g., Matter of E.K. (Anonymous) v State of New York, 235 AD2d 540, 652 NYS2d 759 (2d Dept 1997). Claimant thus does not have a satisfactory excuse for the purposes of the Act.

The final factor to be considered is merit. In this case, Chamble has submitted no independent documentation of the incident, although she suggests in her papers that there are extant reports as to the incident as well as medical records. Nor has she submitted any support – such as a physician's affirmation or medical records -- for her theory that continuing to work after the incident exacerbated her injury.[2]

Matter of Santana v NYS Thruway Authority
, 92 Misc 2d 1, 11, 399 NYS2d 395, 402-03 (Ct Cl 1977) sets out a standard to ascertain whether a claim appears meritorious: (i) the claim "must not be patently groundless, frivolous or legally defective" and (ii) upon consideration of the entire record, including the proposed claim and any exhibits or affidavits, "there is reasonable cause to believe that a valid cause of action exists." I am constrained to find that Chamble has failed to satisfy this standard.

In view of the foregoing, having reviewed the parties' submissions,[3] IT IS ORDERED that motion M-58884 is denied.

September 5, 2000
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] See Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV, Inc. v New York State Employees' Retirement Sys. Policemen's and Firemen's Retirement Sys., 55 NY2d 979, 449 NYS2d 185 (1982); Scarver v State of New York, 233 AD2d 858, 649 NYS2d 280 (4th Dept 1996).
  1. [2]It should be noted that after this motion was filed, I wrote claimant informing her that it would be helpful for her to send copies of the medical records and reports she referred to in her papers. After some initial correspondence from claimant indicating that she was in the process of obtaining such documents, she failed to further communicate with chambers after July of 1999, despite a second letter to her in October of 1999 regarding the records.
  2. [3]The following were reviewed: claimant's notice of motion with proposed claim, notice of intention and affidavit in support; and defendant's March 9, 1999 letter in response.