New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ELDRIDGE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-001-033, Claim No. 103910, Motion No. M-63318


Synopsis


Claimant's motion for an order holding CPLR 1101 (f) unconstitutional and for an order waiving the reduced fee set by the Court is denied.

Case Information

UID:
2001-001-033
Claimant(s):
MICHAEL L. ELDRIDGE
Claimant short name:
ELDRIDGE
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
103910
Motion number(s):
M-63318
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Susan Phillips Read
Claimant's attorney:
Michael L. Eldridge, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon Eliot Spitzer, NYS Attorney GeneralBy: Jeane L. Strickland Smith, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 22, 2001
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers were read and considered on claimant's motion for an order holding CPLR 1101 (f) unconstitutional and for an order waiving the $45.00 dollar fee set by the Court by order filed March 20, 2001: Notice of Motion, dated March 27 and filed April 2, 2001; Affidavit in Support of Reconsideration of Poor Persons Relief Pursuant to CPLR 2221 and CPLR 1101 (f) of Michael L. Eldridge, pro se, sworn to March 28 and filed April 2, 2001, with annexed unmarked Exhibits; Memorandum of Law of Michael L. Eldridge, pro se, dated March 27 and received April 2, 2001; Affirmation in Opposition of Jeane L. Strickland Smith, Esq., AAG, dated April 9 and filed April 12, 2001, with annexed Exhibit A [Appellate Brief of State of New York in Gomez v Evangelista (185 Misc 2d 816)]; Affidavit in Response of Michael L. Eldridge, pro se, sworn to April 11 and filed April 16, 2001; and the claim, verified February 18 and filed March 2, 2001.

Claimant Michael L. Eldridge ("claimant"), pro se, filed this action on March 2, 2001 alleging that defendant State of New York ("defendant" or "the State") is liable in damages for an intentional assault allegedly committed by a correction officer while claimant was housed at Green Haven Correctional Facility (claim, verified February 18 and filed March 2, 2001). Claimant also applied for a reduction of the statutory filing fee of $50.00, which the Court set at $45.00 to be collected as an encumbrance against his inmate account (see, CPLR 1101 [f]). Citing Gomez v Evangelista (185 Misc 2d 816), claimant now asks the Court to declare CPLR 1101 (f) unconstitutional and to waive the filing fee.

Because claimant's motion appears to be based upon "new facts not offered on the prior motion that would [potentially] change the prior determination or . . . a [claimed] change in the law that would change the prior determination" (CPLR 2221 [e] [2]), the Court construes it as a motion to renew. Although claimant's motion does not contain the required "reasonable justification for the failure to present such facts on the prior motion" (CPLR 2221 [e] [3]), the Court recognizes that the proffered Supreme Court decision in Gomez may not have been readily available to him when he made his original application, and that the application was made by way of a standardized form. Accordingly, the Court grants claimant's motion to renew, but adheres to the original determination for the reasons to follow.

In Gomez, Supreme Court opined that CPLR 1101 (f) is unconstitutional "[i]nsofar as [it] mandates immediate or deferred payment without possibility of discretionary waiver" for inmates of Federal, State or local facilities (Gomez v Evangelista, supra, at 820). The prison account statement for the petitioner in Gomez revealed a zero "spendable balance" (id., at 818).

Here, the Court need not address CPLR 1101 (f)'s constitutionality or Gomez's validity or authority because, upon review of claimant's inmate account statement, she determined that he possessed sufficient resources to pay a reduced fee of $45.00 pursuant to Court of Claims Act

§ 11-a (1) and CPLR 1101 (f). By setting a filing fee of $45.00 on the original application, the Court necessarily determined that claimant did not qualify for a reduction to $15.00, the statute's minimum fee (see, CPLR 1101 [f] [2]). Claimant has proffered no evidence to suggest that the Court abused her discretion in this regard. Further, as of June 21, 2001 claimant has a spendable balance of $79.28 and outstanding encumbrances of $38.80 in his inmate account, and has received $852.70 in deposits over the last six months.

Accordingly, the Court grants claimant's motion to renew, and upon renewal, denies his request for a waiver and adheres to the prior determination setting the filing fee at $45.00, to be collected as an encumbrance against claimant's inmate account.

June 22, 2001
Albany, New York

HON. SUSAN PHILLIPS READ
Judge of the Court of Claims