New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WILSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-005-544, Claim No. NONE, Motion No. M-65456


Claimant's motion for permission to file a late claim is denied because it alleges causes of action sounding in violation of the federal civil rights or the U.S. Constitution, over which the Court of Claims has no jurisdition.

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:
Kimree Wilson,Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Timothy P. Mulvey, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 21, 2002

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


On August 14, 2002, the following papers, numbered 1 to 3, were read on motion by Claimant for permission to file a late claim:

Papers Numbered

1, 2 Notice of Motion, Affidavit and Exhibits Annexed
  1. Opposing Affirmation and Exhibits Annexed
Upon the foregoing papers, this motion is denied.

This is Claimant's motion for permission to file a late claim. It appears that Claimant had previously filed Claim No. 105202, on or about November 13, 2001, making similar allegations to the motion at hand. Thereafter, in a decision and order filed on June 25, 2002, in Motion No. M-65010, Presiding Judge Susan Phillips Read dismissed that claim for lack of proper service. That dismissal led to Claimant's instant application for permission to file a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act §10(6).

The proposed claim alleges, as best can be ascertained from its recitations, a claim for violation of Claimant's "Freedom of Religion" since July 27, 2001, at both Shawangunk and Five Points Correctional Facilities; Claimant's right to petition the government from August 9 to August 18, 2001, while he was housed in the infirmary for not eating; for cruel and unusual punishment, and limitation of his right to access to the courts, based upon his alleged denial of legal material and law books.

Claimant's supporting papers allude to the statutory factors enumerated in §10(6). As an excuse for the failure to timely file, Claimant asserts ignorance of the law and an alleged inability to pay mailing costs for certified mail, return receipt requested, as required by §11. He asserts that the Defendant had notice of the essential facts underlying his claim and the opportunity to investigate because he has filed grievances with the Department of Correctional Services, both at the correctional facility and in Albany, as well as alleging that numerous reports of these incidents were generated. No copies of any such documents were supplied with the moving papers. He does opine that his claim is meritorious, and that he has no other remedy.

The Defendant opposes the relief on the ground that the proposed claim fails to state a cause of action that is cognizable in the Court of Claims. I must agree.

To the extent that the claim sounds in alleged violations of the United States Constitution or federal civil rights, they are properly raised in federal court, not in the Court of Claims (Will v Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 US 58). Furthermore, Judge Philip J. Patti instructively noted in Gagne v State of New York, Ct Cl, Nov. 30, 2001 (Claim No. 98686, Motion No. M-63259), UID No. 2001-013-029 (see the Court of Claims website:, that:
As the Fourth Department has stated, prison and jail inmates do not have an abstract, free-standing right to a law library or legal assistance (People v Cabrera, 259 AD2d 1007 [quoting Lewis v Casey, 518 US 343]); making legal materials available inside prisons and jails is simply a "reasonable alternative" to assure meaningful access to the courts" (id., quoting Bounds v Smith, 430 US 817). While an inmate's total inability to access the law library, in order to remedy his ignorance of legal rules and requirements, may be a factor entitled to consideration in his favor if he has to move for permission to late file in this Court (see, Plate v State of New York, 92 Misc 2d 1033), research has disclosed no case in which a cause of action for money damages has been maintained for such deprivation.

Also see, Lorusso v State of New York, Ct Cl, March 1, 2002 (Claim No. 105112, Motion No. M-64394), Sise, J., UID No. 2002-028-010, where Judge Richard E. Sise noted that damages flowing from the denial of grievances filed regarding the lack of library services and State and Federal Constitutional rights to be incarcerated in a facility/institution that has a law library will not lie. He added that law libraries and legal assistance programs do not represent constitutional rights in and of themselves, and held, inter alia, that "there exists no free-standing tort for money damages for alleged deficiencies in the Defendant's provision of a law library or law library services."

I agree with Defendant that the claim states only causes of action for which the Court of Claims has no jurisdiction, to wit, those actions alleging violations of federal constitutional and civil rights. Accordingly, I find that the proposed claim does not bear the appearance of meritoriousness, and it would be futile to grant a late claim application under such circumstances. The motion is denied.

October 21, 2002
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims