New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

Walker v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #200-018-026, Claim No. 100595, Motion No. M-61508


Synopsis


Claimant's motion to amend claim denied.

Case Information

UID:
200-018-026
Claimant(s):
NATHANIEL WALKER
Claimant short name:
Walker
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
100595
Motion number(s):
M-61508
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Claimant's attorney:
NATHANIEL WALKER, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: JOEL L. MARMELSTEIN, ESQUIRE Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 10, 2000
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant brings this motion seeking permission to amend claim number 100595.


Defendant opposes the motion. The Court has considered the following documents:


Notice of Motion.............................................................................1


Affidavit of Nathaniel Walker in support, with the proposed

amended claim attached thereto.........................................2

Affirmation of Joel L. Marmelstein, Esq., Assistant Attorney

General in opposition...........................................................3

Reply of Nathaniel Walker to Affirmation in Opposition................4

Filed Documents:


Verified Claim...................................................................................5


Answer...............................................................................................6


Claimant seeks to amend his claim upon the grounds that "additional or subsequent transactions or occurrences of claims, and upon the ground that amendment by leave freely granted." (Walker Affidavit ¶5) Claimant asserts that the amendment is necessary for the proper presentation of his claim at trial. Defendant opposes the request to amend and argues that the amended claim offers nothing new, no new transaction and no new cause of action. The only change is that claimant now seeks a $95,000 increase in damages from the existing claim.

To better discuss the subject of the amended claim, a brief recap of the history of the claimant's original claims are in order. The claimant is an inmate at Riverview Correctional Facility. He previously had three claims pending with this Court.

The first claim (claim number 100290) was filed on May 4, 1999, and contained allegations of negligence by state employees, but contained no specified acts, nor did it present any facts to support the allegation of negligence. Defendant brought a motion to dismiss the claim (M-60083), which was granted.

The second claim (claim number 100595) was filed on June 23, 1999, and alleges that the claimant suffered mental anguish, loss of sleep, and depression as a result of the confiscation and subsequent destruction of legal papers (relating to claim number 100290) belonging to him. The law in New York State does not recognize a cause of action for mental anguish for the negligent destruction of property. However, compensation for lost property is a cause of action recognized in this State. (CPLR 214(4)) Therefore the defendant's motion (M-60152) to dismiss this claim was denied. This is the claim claimant seeks to amend by this motion.

The third claim (claim number 100682) was filed on July 8, 1999, and relates to an inmate grievance complaint, again pertaining to the claimant's missing legal papers. The defendant's motion (M-60154) to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action and for failing to set forth the nature of the claim was granted and the claim was dismissed.

A party shall freely amend his pleading, or supplement it by "setting forth additional or subsequent transactions or occurrences, at any time by leave of court or by stipulation of all parties." (CPLR § 3025 (b); Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims [22 NYCRR §206.7]) The claimant's proposed amendment to claim number 100595 consists of two causes of action.

In the proposed amended claim the first cause of action is for property damage and loss. It is primarily a supplementation of the original claim, and merely expands upon the details of the fact pattern. As in the original claim, the claimant states that he wishes to recover for mental pain and anguish, and loss of sleep as noted in paragraphs 2, 18, and 19 of the amended claim. Once again the claimant must be reminded that recovery for damages of mental pain and anguish, and for loss of sleep (i.e., emotional distress) are not valid causes of action in New York State. (See, Walker v State of New York, Ct. Cl., Fitzpatrick, J., filed January 10, 2000, claim numbers 100290, 100595, 100682, and motion numbers M-60083, M-60152, M-60153, M-60154, M-60358, CM-60291) A cause of action based on a theory of emotional distress must be dismissed for lack of merit. (Kaminski v State of New York, Ct Cl, McNamara, J. motion no. M-61011.)

"The public policy of this State precludes the maintenance of a claim against the State of New York for the intentional infliction of emotional distress."(Gosselin v State of New York, Ct Cl, Collins, J., claim no. 98840 motion no. M-61100.) As determined in this Court's earlier decision, there is also no recovery for mental anguish due to the negligent destruction of property. (Caprino v Silsby, 226 AD2d 1078; Jason v Parks, 224 AD2d 494; Zaccaro v Jenik Motor Service, 148 Misc 2d 664; Walker v State of New York, supra) While leave to amend a pleading should be freely granted, where the proposed amendment is devoid of merit, the amendment should not be permitted. (See, West Branch Realty Corp. v Exchange Ins. Co., 260 AD2d 473; Matter of Prendergast v Kingston City School Dist., 242 AD2d 773)

In regards to the second cause of action within the claimant's amended claim, again the new allegations do not add anything to claimant's original claim. (See, Spence v Bear Stearns & Co., Inc., 264 AD2d 601; Konrad v 136 East 64th Street Corp.; 246 AD2d 324)

Accordingly, the claimant's motion for leave to amend the claim is DENIED.


July 10, 2000
Syracuse, New York

HON. DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Judge of the Court of Claims