New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

AHMAD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-016-083, Claim No. 104616, Motion No. M-64778


Motion to amend claim, preclude affirmative defenses and for summary judgment was denied in part and granted in part.

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:
Sulayman Ahmad
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: James E. Shoemaker, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 26, 2002
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is the motion of Sulayman Ahmad for an order: (1) granting him permission to amend his claim; (2) precluding a defense by the State under CPLR Article 16; and (3) for summary judgment in claimant's favor on the issue of liability. In his underlying claim, Mr. Ahmad alleges that he was assaulted by another inmate at Woodbourne Correctional Facility. Claimant seeks to amend his claim in several regards. First, he requests permission to amend the caption to change his name. He explains that his birth name was Paul Williamson, Jr. and that upon his application, an order was entered granting him permission to change his name to Sulayman Ahmad. See the July 31, 1995 order of Hon. Judith A. Hillery, attached to claimant's moving papers. Claimant asserts that he now wishes to change his name back to Paul Williamson, Jr., but has not yet "completed that legal process." He asserts that the caption should be amended to facilitate documentary discovery as defendant has sought documents which contain references to the name Paul Williamson, Jr. In view of the foregoing, the caption may be amended to reflect claimant's current name and his birth name, as set forth below.

Claimant also seeks to reduce the amount of damages he seeks. As defendant has no objection (see ¶8 of the May 8, 2002 affirmation of James. E. Shoemaker), such request will be granted, as set forth below.

As to CPLR article 16, entitled "Limited Liability of Persons Jointly Liable," claimant seeks an order precluding defendant from raising its third affirmative defense, in which defendant asserts that "it was the negligence or fault or want of care of some third person or persons" that resulted in claimant's damages. He also seeks to amend his claim to assert that various exceptions to limited liability apply in this case, specifically those found in CPLR §§ 1602.2(iv), 1602.3, 1602.5, 1602.7 and 1602.11.

To the extent that claimant seeks to preclude the State's third affirmative defense, it should be noted that affirmative defenses are not dispositive of a claim. Like the allegations in a claim, they are merely assertions made by a party. There is no reason to strike affirmative defenses in the absence of prejudice. See., e.g., Weinstein-Korn-Miller, NY Civ Prac ¶3018.14 at 30-410. Claimant has alleged no prejudice in this case, nor has he asserted that any scandalous matter is contained in defendant's pleading. See CPLR 3024.

As to the amendment of his claim, CPLR §1603 provides in relevant part that "a party asserting that the limitations on liability set forth in this article do not apply shall allege and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one or more of the exemptions set forth in subdivision one of section sixteen hundred one or section sixteen hundred two applies." Pursuant to CPLR 3025(b), the Court may permit the amendment of a pleading at any time. "If there is no prejudice to the other side, leave to amend must be freely given." Siegel, NY Prac §237, at 378 (3d ed). No prejudice has been identified by defendant in this case. See, e.g., Hamilton v State of New York, Ct Cl dated 3/28/01, Nadel, J. (unreported, claim no. 99780, motion no. M-62857). See also Cole v Mandell Food Stores, Inc., 93 NY2d 34, 687 NYS2d 598 (1999).

The other changes that claimant seeks to make are not necessary as they consist largely of the addition of legal theories; the essential occurrences alleged by claimant have not changed in the proposed amended claim.

Finally, aside from his request for summary judgment on liability, claimant has made no arguments or provided any submissions in support. Defendant disputes the claims in this action and issues of fact remain. Accordingly, summary judgment is inappropriate. See CPLR 3212(b).

Accordingly, having reviewed the submissions[1], IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-64778 be denied in all respects except that within forty-five (45) days of the filing of this Order, claimant shall serve and file an amended claim which differs from the original claim only in that:
(1) the caption shall name claimant as "Sulayman Ahmad, a/k/a Paul Williamson, Jr.";
(2) ab causes of action "a)" and "b)" shall be combined and the combined amount of damages shall be stated as $2,500,000;
(3) abthe damages in cause of action "c)" shall be stated as $1,500,000;
(4) abthe damages in cause of action "d)" shall be stated as $1,500,000;
(5) abadded to the claim shall be an allegation that the limitations upon liability set forth in CPLR 1601 have no application by reason of one or more of the exceptions set forth in CPLR §§ 1602.2(iv), 1602.3, 1602.5, 1602.7 and 1602.11.

August 26, 2002
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]Along with the pleadings, the following were reviewed: claimant's notice of motion with affidavit in support and undesignated exhibits; claimant's memorandum of law; claimant's letter dated February 25, 2002 with attached page; claimant's proposed verified amended claim; and defendant's affirmation in opposition.