Claimant alleges negligence on the part of the State for failure to credit
claimant's inmate account with $30.00 and for losing a letter sent to claimant
by his mother.
At the beginning of trial, the State made a motion to dismiss the claim based
upon the State's affirmative defense, raised in the Verified Answer, to this
claim asserting that the "Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and personal
jurisdiction because the claim was untimely served on the Attorney General's
Office in violation of the Court of Claims Act." The Court denied the State's
motion on the basis that the affirmative defense was not raised with
particularity as required by Court of Claims Act § 11(c). While the
affirmative defense states that the claim was untimely served, it does not state
that the claim should have been served within 90 days of accrual (
Villa v State of New York
, 228 AD2d 930).
Claimant testified that on May 7, 1995, he spoke by telephone with his mother.
Claimant stated that he never received a letter and $30.00 money order sent to
him at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing) by his mother.
Claimant stated that his mother put a trace on the money order and that it was
discovered that the money order was received at Sing Sing.
To establish the procedure that officials at Sing Sing were to follow when his
mother's letter and money order arrived, claimant submitted into evidence an
Inmate Grievance Review Committee's decision dated September 20, 1995 (Exhibit
1). The decision stated that when checks or money orders are received with
correspondence for an inmate, the check or money order should be separated from
the other contents of the envelope and sent to Inmate Accounts for processing;
the other contents should be sent to the inmate. Claimant asserts this
procedure was not followed as he received neither the money order nor the
letter. Claimant also states that he submitted an inmate claim (Exhibit 4) and
an inmate grievance (Exhibit 5) regarding this matter, and that he did not
receive a response to either.
On cross-examination, the Assistant Attorney General showed claimant a copy of
his inmate account statement for the period April 29, 1995 through May 31, 1995
(Exhibit A). Claimant agreed that the document showed that he received a mail
receipt for $30.00 on May 12, 1995. Claimant stated that he never received a
copy of this inmate account statement and that this was the first time he had
seen it. He further stated that the $30.00 recorded on the inmate statement
(Exhibit A) was a gift from someone other than his mother; that he should have
received credit for two $30.00 checks and his account was credited with only
one. However, upon inquiry from the Court, claimant was unable to identify the
person who allegedly sent this additional $30.00 check, or to state why he would
have received two $30.00 checks the same week. Claimant also did not attempt to
submit any proof of the additional $30.00 check.
Based upon the preponderance of credible evidence, the Court finds and
concludes that claimant's mother did indeed send him a letter with a $30.00
money order on or about
May 7, 1995. We further find and conclude that claimant's inmate account
was credited with the $30.00 on May 12, 1995 (see Exhibit A). Claimant's
testimony that he received two checks for $30.00 in early May, 1995 is simply
not credible since he was unable to identify, much less establish, the existence
of any such additional donor.
Claimant seeks $1,000.00 to compensate him for the State's negligence in losing
his letter and for the denial of his due process rights in not giving him his
We find, based upon the preponderance of credible evidence, that claimant
failed to establish that he did not receive his letter from his mother. In
addition, he offered no proof as to the value of the letter, and it appears that
the damages he is seeking are punitive damages, which are not recoverable
against the State (
Sharapata v Town of Islip
, 82 AD2d 350 affd 56 NY2d 332). We also note
that no suit may be maintained against the State for any alleged cause of action
for Federal civil rights violations in the Court of Claims (Matter of Thomas
v New York Temporary State Comm.
, 83 AD2d 723 affd 56 NY2d 656; Davis v
State of New York
124 AD2d 420).
Finally, since Claimant did not
establish any protected right which was impeded by the defendant, neither
procedural nor substantive due process under the New York State Constitution is
implicated in this matter.
Therefore, based upon the foregoing, the Court finds and concludes that
claimant failed to establish either: (1) the State's negligence; or (2) any due
process violation and the claim is dismissed. All motions made at trial, upon
which the Court reserved decision, are hereby denied. The Chief Clerk is
directed to enter judgment accordingly.