New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RYAN v.THE STATE OF NEW YORK, et al, #2000-019-532, Claim No. NONE, Motion No. M-62047


Claimant's motion for permission to file a late claim denied since involvement od State employees was not established

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:
Defendant's attorney:
BY: James E. Shoemaker, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 29, 2000

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, seeks permission to file a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act (hereinafter "CCA") 10 (6).

The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. Notice of Motion No. M-62047, undated and filed July 5, 2000.
  2. Affidavit of James R. Ryan, in support of motion, dated and sworn to June 19, 2000.
  3. Proposed Claim, sworn to June 19, 2000.
  4. Affirmation of James E. Shoemaker, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated August 2, 2000 and filed August 7, 2000.
On November 15, 1999, Claimant alleges he was an inmate at Chemung County jail and had just been escorted to Elmira City Court for an appearance. Claimant alleges he was in a waiting area after having a verbal disagreement with a Judge when an officer (identified as "officer Doe 1") began choking and assaulting him. (Proposed Claim, ¶ ¶ 11 & 13). Thereafter, Claimant asserts two other officers (identified as "officer's Doe 2 and Doe 3") joined the fray and began assaulting him as well. (Proposed Claim, ¶ 14).

As a threshold issue, the Court notes that it has jurisdiction to review and determine this motion since it was filed within the time period prescribed by Article 2 of the CPLR. (CCA 10 [6]).

The factors that the Court must consider in determining a properly framed CCA 10 (6) motion are whether:

1. the delay in filing the claim was excusable,

2. the State had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim,

3. the State had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances underlying

the claim,

4. the claim appears to be meritorious,

5. the failure to file or serve upon the attorney general a timely claim or to serve upon the attorney general a notice of intention resulted in substantial prejudice to the State, and

6. there is any other available remedy.

Whether the proposed claim appears meritorious has been characterized as the most decisive component in determining a motion under CCA 10 (6), since it would be futile to permit a meritless claim to proceed. (Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway Auth., 92 Misc 2d 1). In order to establish a meritorious claim, Claimant must establish his proposed claim is not patently groundless, frivolous, or legally defective and that there is reasonable cause to believe that a valid claim exists. (Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway Auth., supra, 92 Misc 2d, at 11).

Here, the proposed claim states, in part, the following:
[t]his claim is for assault and battery of the officers of the State of New York, County of Chemung, City of Elmira, commited [sic] by it's employee's [sic] identified only as Doe 1, Doe 2, and Doe 3, at this point in this action, all are known to be employed in the State of New York, County of Chemung, City of Elmira, and all are known to be in the law enforcement profession.

(Proposed Claim, ¶ 2). The State opposes this motion on the grounds this Court lacks jurisdiction since Claimant has failed to set forth any allegations implicating any State employee.

Claimant, as a party seeking to file a late claim, has a heavier burden of demonstrating that his claim appears to be meritorious than a party who has timely filed a claim. (Nyberg v State of New York, 154 Misc 2d 199). In light of this higher standard, allegations based solely on vague, conclusory and overly-general statements are not sufficient to demonstrate the requisite degree of merit. (Witko v State of New York, 212 AD2d 889). As such, this Court cannot overlook the fact that Claimant's allegations refer to the involvement of State employees in only a cursory and conclusory fashion. In short, based on Claimant's allegations, it appears Elmira City police officers and/or Chemung County correctional officers were involved, but not any State employee. Consequently, in this Court's view, Claimant has not met his burden of establishing the participation of any State employee in his alleged assault and has thus failed to establish his proposed claim appears meritorious.

Claimant's excuse for his delay is his unawareness of the service and filing requirements contained in the CCA. Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse. (Innis v State of New York, 92 AD2d 606, affd 60 NY2d 654). This factor weighs against Claimant. The State does not specifically address the remaining factors of notice of the essential facts, opportunity to investigate, lack of substantial prejudice and alternative remedies and, as such, the Court will find these factors weigh in Claimant's favor.

Upon reviewing and balancing all of the factors enumerated in CCA 10 (6), the Court finds that two of the six factors, including the all important factor of merit, weigh against Claimant.

In view of the foregoing, IT IS ORDERED that Claimant's motion for permission to late file, Motion No. M-62047, is DENIED.

August 29, 2000
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims