New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GAINES v. THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK - DOWNSTATE HOSPITAL and WILLIAM B. SOLOMON, M.D., #2000-016-079, Claim No. None, Motion No. M-61659


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2000-016-079
Claimant(s):
TENAYA GAINES
Claimant short name:
GAINES
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK - DOWNSTATE HOSPITAL and WILLIAM B. SOLOMON, M.D.
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
None
Motion number(s):
M-61659
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Shearer & Essner, LLPBy: Kevin B. Keating, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Ellen Matowik, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 25, 2000
City:
New York
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Tenaya Gaines brings this motion for permission to file a late claim arising from a drug-induced seizure on March 21, 1999, subsequent to her admittance to Downstate Hospital[1] in Kings County. "As a result of this seizure and /or other negligence and inadequate supervision of Downstate Hospital and Dr. Solomon, Ms. Gaines suffered a fracture of her left hip requiring surgical reduction" (proposed claim, ¶2). Opposition papers were submitted by the State Attorney General.[2] The only information available about defendant William B. Solomon, M.D. is that supplied by the claimant. Gaines' papers provide, or at least strongly imply, that Dr. Solomon was her physician, was not an employee of Downstate Hospital, but had attending privileges -- any suit against him therefore lies in Supreme Court. In several places, Solomon is described as "...Ms. Gaines' physician for approximately ten (10) years prior to the date of the March 1999 admission to S.U.N.Y.- Downstate Hospital"(¶4 of the sup. aff. and of the proposed claim). Highlighting such distinction is the claimant's naming separately as defendants: "The State University of New York-Downstate and William B. Solomon, M.D."

The State's opposition papers contend that the proposed claim is patently defective inasmuch as the named defendants are not parties subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims. That is so for Dr.Solomon, whose alleged actions cannot, without more, be imputed to SUNY- Downstate. Champagnie v State of New York, 224 AD2d 476, 477, 638 NYS2d 174, 175 (2d Dept 1996) distinguished the situation of a doctor who was "more than a mere attending physician with hospital privileges." But SUNY and its constituent entities are no different from any state agency, such as the Department of Transportation, and any acts or omissions properly imputed to an agency are deemed to be those of the State. While it is better practice to denominate the State of New York as the defendant, naming a state agency does not prevent the case from moving forward. See for example, Ct Cl #87544, Motion M-49583 fld. 9/20/94, Silverman, J.(unreported).

Section 11.b of the Court of Claims Act requires that the particulars of a claim be sufficiently detailed to enable the State to promptly determine the existence and extent of its liability. Sinski v State of New York, 265 AD2d 319, 696 NYS2d 70 (2d Dept 1999). Insofar as the motion papers, including the proposed claim, set forth that Dr. Solomon had known that Ms. Gaines previously had a reaction to Demerol, such might well be sufficient to support a valid cause of action – but, as noted, the doctor's actions are not those of the State.

We have no facts that would assist in determining how the State, acting through an employee of Downstate, was negligent. Did, for example, an intern or nurse employed by Downstate fail to follow Dr. Solomon's instructions, if any, as to Demerol? Claimant argues there was inadequate supervision at the hospital, but her only elaboration thereon is the conclusory argument that "an admitted patient of Ms. Gaines' young age could not have fractured her hip but for the negligence of the defendants, their agents...or employees" (proposed claim, §2). Nor is pre-claim discovery available, since it "may not be used for the purpose of permitting the claimant to ascertain whether facts supporting a cause of action actually exist..." Edens v State of New York, 259 AD2d 729, 730, 687 NYS2d 423, 425 (2d Dept 1999).

Compliance with §11 (and §10) of the Act is a jurisdictional prerequisite to the maintenance of a claim (Cannon v State of New York, 163 Misc 2d 623, 622 NYS2d 177 [Ct Cl 1994]; Byrne v State of New York, 104 AD2d 782, 480 NYS2d 225 [2d Dept 1984], lv denied 64 NY2d 607, 488 NYS2d 1023 [1985]); accordingly IT IS ORDERED that Tenaya Gaines' request for permission to file such a claim be denied, and it is thus unnecessary at this time to consider each of the statutory factors set forth in §10.6 of the Act.


September 25, 2000
New York, New York

HON. ALAN C. MARIN
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1] The State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn.
[2] The following papers were considered: movant's Notice of Motion, with a Supporting Affidavit from her lawyer and a (proposed) Claim; an Affirmation in Opposition from the Attorney General on behalf of the State of New York.