New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MATTHEWS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-016-011, Claim No. 99261, Motion No. M-62953


Pro se claim of prison assault was dismissed on the grounds that it failed to comply with §11 of the Court of Claims Act.

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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
No Appearance
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Earl F. Gialanella, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 22, 2001
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is defendant's motion to dismiss the claim of Robert Matthews on the ground that both it and claimant's notice of intention fail to comply with §11 of the Court of Claims Act (the "Act") and on timeliness grounds. Claimant's notice of intention was served on defendant on February 14, 1997[1] and states that:
On November 16, 1996, claimant was assaulted, battered and sustained severe lacerations to his face at THE SULLIVAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY in Fallsburg, New York.

ROBERT MATTHEWS' assault and battery was caused by the acts and/or omissions of the STATE OF NEW YORK and THE SULLIVAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, their respective agents, servants and/or employees in, among other things, the operation, control and supervision of THE SULLIVAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, its inmates and personnel; in failing to provide adequate security; in causing, committing and/or permitt[ing] the assault and battery death of ROBERT MATTHEWS; in retaining personnel who were inept and trained improperly; in failing to properly supervise personnel and inmates, in otherwise being careless and reckless.

Matthews' claim, which was filed on November 6, 1998 and served on November 9, 1998[2] contains virtually the same description, but adds the following:
  1. Claimant to this day still suffers from pain in his finger, and loss [of] the use of that finger, due to denied proper medical care.
  2. [Defendant] had actual knowledge of claimant[']s medical conditions, due to his many complaints.
  3. As a result of this incident, claimant has suffered permanent disabilities including loss of use of his finger.

Section 11(b) of the Act provides that a "claim shall state the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, and the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained and the total sum claimed." Section 11(b) applies these requirements to notices of intention as well as to claims. "The claim must plead the facts relied upon to sustain a recovery. In addition it must set forth a valid cause of action . . ." Cannon v State of New York, 163 Misc 2d 623, 625, 622 NYS2d 177, 178 (Ct Cl 1994) (citation omitted). The purpose of §11 of the Act "is to give the State prompt notice of an occurrence and an opportunity to investigate the facts . . ." Id., 163 Misc 2d at 626, 622 NYS2d at 179.

In this case, claimant has provided no details as to his attack, for instance where in the facility it occurred or whether the perpetrator or perpetrators were inmate(s), correction officer(s) or other persons. Nor did Matthews plead any facts relied upon to sustain a recovery, for instance that he was a known risk or that his attackers(s) were known to be dangerous. Similarly, there is no detail provided as to the alleged denial of medical care, raised for the first time in the claim.

"Conclusory or general allegations . . . that fail to adduce the manner in which the claimant was injured and how the State was negligent do not meet [the] requirements [of §11 of the Act]." Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d 767, 767-68, 433 NYS2d 646, 648 (4th Dept 1980). In short, Matthews' allegations are conclusory and general and fail to meet the requirements of §11 of the Act. The remaining grounds for defendant's motion need not be reached.

Accordingly, having reviewed the parties' submissions,[3] IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-62953 is granted and claim no. 99261 is dismissed.

February 22, 2001
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]See ¶4 of the January 12, 2001 affirmation of Earl F. Gialanella (the "Gialanella Aff.") and Exhibit A thereto.
  2. [2]See Exhibit B to the Gialanella Aff.
  3. [3]Along with the pleadings, the Court reviewed defendant's notice of motion with affirmation in support and Exhibits A-C. Claimant filed no opposition papers.