New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MITCHELL v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-010-055, Claim No. 105356


Synopsis


Inmate claimant's slip and fall claim dismissed due to improper service by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Case Information

UID:
2002-010-055
Claimant(s):
ROBERT L. MITCHELL
Claimant short name:
MITCHELL
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
105356
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Terry Jane Ruderman
Claimant's attorney:
ROBERT L. MITCHELLPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
November 20, 2002
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant seeks damages for injuries he sustained on December 8, 1999 during his incarceration at Sing Sing Correctional Facility when he allegedly slipped and fell on a flight of stairs and fractured his jaw. This claim was heard in a unified trial.
On March 3, 2000,
claimant completed a disbursement request form for legal mail for service of a Notice of Intention upon the Attorney General's office (Ex. 2). Defendant received the Notice of Intention "arguably one day late,"[1] but did not, at trial, raise an issue with such untimeliness, nor the fact that the Notice of Intention was served by registered mail, return receipt requested, rather than the statutory mandate of certified mail. Claimant concededly served the claim on December 5, 2001 by regular mail. Defendant did raise this failure to comply with the statutory mandate and moved to dismiss the claim on this basis (Answer, ¶ 11). The Court reserved decision on the motion and proceeded with the trial.
The requirements of the Court of Claims Act §§ 10 and 11 are jurisdictional in nature and must be strictly construed (
see Finnerty v New York State Thruway Auth., 75 NY2d 721, 722-23; Phillips v State of New York, 237 AD2d 590). "[A] failure to comply therewith is a jurisdictional defect compelling the dismissal of the claim" (Welch v State of New York, 286 AD2d 496, 497-98). Accordingly, the claim warrants dismissal on this jurisdictional basis and defendant's motion, upon which decision was reserved, is now GRANTED.
Claimant
cross-moved to deem the Notice of Intention (Ex. 1) a claim.
The Notice of Intention provides in pertinent part:
The nature of this claim is as follows: on December 8th, 1999 I sustained a serious injury to my jaw consisting of a double fracture, one of which was a compound to the left side due to a fall on a staircase in Sing-Sing Correctional Facility. Furthermore the claimant was left untreated for approx. 12 hrs after being placed in the facility Infirmary IPCU 4th Floor.


The place where the claim arose: Sing-Sing Correctional Facility
354 Hunter Street

Ossining, New York, 10562-5442

This claim arose on: December 8th, 1999

(Id.) While the Notice of Intention states where and when the claim arose, it fails to state the nature of the claim, i.e., the basis upon which defendant is alleged to be liable for claimant's injuries. The Notice of Intention does not "set forth a statement with sufficient specificity so as to enable the State to investigate the claim promptly and ascertain its liability" (Phillips v State of New York, 237 AD2d 590, supra).
Accordingly,
claimant's cross-motion, upon which decision was reserved, is now DENIED.[2]
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED DISMISSING CLAIM NO. 105356.


November 20, 2002
White Plains, New York

HON. TERRY JANE RUDERMAN
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1] All quotations are to the trial notes or audiotapes unless otherwise indicated.
[2] While reserving upon the motion and cross-motion made at trial, the Court received testimony and evidence which, even if claimant's cross-motion had been granted, he would not have prevailed on the evidence presented.