New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HYDE v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-018-137, Claim No. 105025, Motion No. M-64219


Defendant's pre-answer motion to dismiss claim granted pursuant to Court of Claims Act §11(b), and the fact that the individuals named in the claim are subject to absolute judicial immunity.

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:
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: JOEL L. MARMELSTEIN, ESQUIREAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 10, 2002

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Defendant brings a pre-answer motion to dismiss the claim. The proposed claim alleges:
"In April of 1994, claimant was ordered to be removed from his residence by Herkimer County Family Court Judge Henry LaRaia. The opposing party in that matter [Hyde v Dorie] used lies and deception that later proved to be false in court. Under Article 8 of the Family Court Act, and by order of the court, claimant was permitted to secure belongings. However, the court failed and refused to uphold that order as respondent also refused to cooperate. Several violation petitions were filed and not heard or even scheduled on the calendar. Upon obtaining the services of an attorney, the presiding judge [LaRaia] had recused himself. Issues were heard before Judicial Hearing Officer John E [sic] Flemma. Without hearing any arguments or have [sic] knowledge of the matter, petitions were dismissed based upon ‘court does not have jurisdiction for division of property'. [sic] Claimant filed a motion moving that the court misinterpreted the petition. The matter was back on the calendar and scheduled before Supreme Court Judge Gilbert. In Judge Gilberts [sic] ruling, he was not familiar with any issues and therefore the matter was referred back to Judge LaRaia whom [sic] recused himself previously. All subsequent petitions were sent to the Hearing Examiner Michael Rao wherein the judge was belligerent and refused to transfer issues as written under FCA §439. Complaints to presiding Judge [LaRaia] went unanswered. Since most, if not all property was sold or given away, claimant's latest motion [annexed hereto] sought to obtain credit in lieu of personal property ‘inherited'. Again, issues were heard before Judge LaRaia in Part I instead of Part II where previous petitions ended. This action was before the presiding judge based upon the current Hearing Examiner was opposing party's former attorney [G[sic] Stephen Getman], and who happens to be the son of Judge LaRaia's former law partner. Claimant lost usage of personal property and ultimately ownership without just compensation." (See Claim Paragraph 2)

Defendant argues that the claim should be dismissed for failure to comply with the requirements of Court of Claims Act §11(b) and for failure to state a cause of action because the alleged wrongdoers were acting within their capacity as judicial officials and are immune from liability. Claimant responds that the claim clearly states a cause of action for the negligent actions of the specified State employees acting within the scope of their employment. According to claimant, these employees deprived him of his right to his personal property which should result in liability under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Claimant, in a later paragraph of his affidavit, states that the judicial officials acted well-beyond their judicial capacity by transferring claimant's personal property to the opposing party without the jurisdiction to do so.

The claim must be dismissed on several grounds. First, as defendant aptly points out, the claim fails to adequately apprise what transpired on August 15, 2001, the date of accrual in accordance with Court of Claims Act §11(b). Claimant responds that all that is required by Court of Claims Act §11(b) is the time, date and place where such claim arose and the total sum claimed, information his claim provides. However, claimant has missed an important requirement of the statute: the requirement that the nature of the claim be set forth. (Court of Claims Act §11(b)) The claim fails to meet this requirement. "A claim complies with Court of Claims Act §11(b) when it alleges facts sufficient to state a cause of action and to put the State on notice of the wrongdoing of which it is being accused with sufficient precision to enable a prompt investigation." (
Harris v State of New York and Brooklyn College, Ct of Cl, unpublished decision Read, Presiding J, filed Jan. 6, 2000, Claim No. 99494, M-60178, CM-60326, quoting Dellocono v State of New York, unpublished decision aff'd, Mega, Presiding J. filed Jan. 16, 1996, Claim No. 91890, M-52105, at slip opn. p. 3, 244 AD2d 521; See also, Bonaparte v State of New York, 175 AD2d 683) Although "absolute exactness" is not necessary, there must be "sufficient definiteness to enable the State to be able to investigate the claim promptly and to ascertain its liability under the circumstances." (Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d 767, 768) The claim does not specify the alleged wrongdoing of the State on August 15, 2001 which resulted in claimant's loss of personal property. The effect of these missing details is that the claim fails to provide adequate notice to the State. A claim which does not comply with the requirements of §11(b) of the Court of Claims Act suffers a jurisdictional defect which is not curable by amendment and must be dismissed. (See, Cannon v State of New York, 163 Misc 2d 623, 626; Grande v State of New York, 160 Misc 2d 383, 386)
Secondly, the claim must be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action. Claimant's allegations involve the actions of certain Family Court and Supreme Court judges, a judicial hearing officer and a hearing examiner in handling various family court proceedings before them. Under these circumstances, these individuals are protected by absolute judicial immunity. (
See, Weiner v State of New York, 273 AD2d 95; Harley v Perkinson, 148 Misc 2d 753 aff'd 184 AD2d 933, app dismissed 80 NY2d 971; Gordon v County of Albany, 115 Misc 2d 302) This immunity precludes any claim of negligence.
For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's motion is GRANTED and the claim is DISMISSED.

May 10, 2002
Syracuse, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following documents in deciding this motion:

Notice of Motion...............................................................................1

Affirmation of Joel L. Marmelstein, Esquire, Assistant Attorney

General, in support, with all exhibits attached thereto..........2

Affidavit of Ken Hyde in opposition.................................................3

Reply affirmation of Joel L. Marmelstein, Esquire, Assistant

Attorney General....................................................................4

Filed Documents: