dated September 9, 2002.
Filed Papers: Claim, filed July 10, 2002
The Defendant seeks dismissal of the Claim by pre-answer motion or in the
alternative seeks an order directing a more definite statement pursuant to CPLR
3024(a). In response to the State's motion, Claimant has acknowledged the
shortcomings of his submission and has requested additional time to make "proper
corrections" (Renelique letter), albeit by withdrawing his Claim and then
refiling the Claim. The State has responded that it does not object to
Claimant's requests, and in doing so has suggested that the Court consider its
motion on the basis of Claimant's letter.
Pursuant to CPLR 3013, "[s]tatements in a pleading shall be sufficiently
particular to give the court and parties notice of the transactions,
occurrences, or series of transactions or occurrences, intended to be proved and
the material elements of each cause of action or defense."
The principal purpose of a pleading, particularly a claim or complaint, is to
provide notice, to advise the opposing party of the claim (Foley v
D'Agostino, 21 AD2d 60). Conclusory
allegations alone are insufficient to meet the pleading requirements of either
CPLR 3013 (Goldberg v Sitomer, Sitomer & Porges, 63 NY2d 831, cert
denied, 470 US 1028; Dibble v Board of Coop. Educational Servs.,
Allegany County, 103 AD2d 1026; Spallina v Giannoccaro, 98 AD2d 103) or
Court of Claims Act § 11 (b) (Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d
767, Patterson v State of New York, 54 AD2d 147).
As to form, pleadings are to "consist of plain and concise statements in
consecutively numbered paragraphs" with each paragraph containing a single
allegation "as far as practicable" (CPLR 3014). Separate causes of action or
defenses are to be stated separately. CPLR 3024 provides that "[i]f a pleading
is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a
response," that party may move for a more definite statement. A document that
was described as "a confusing discourse of conclusory allegations with
cross-references to voluminous documents" was held not to state a viable cause
of action (Hodge v State of New York, 213 AD2d 766,768).
Upon review of the filed papers, the Court shares Defendant's difficulty in
reading, let alone understanding Claimant's pages of handwritten and single
spaced papers. The Court can not discern whether the words on the paper state a
cause of action or whether some or all of the causes of action are time barred.
Because, however, Claimant is prosecuting this action pro se, and he has
acknowledged the problem exists, he will be permitted one attempt to properly
plead his claim.
Claimant is put on notice that the Court expects a clear, concise document that
complies with the rules regarding content and form as are set out above.
Defendant's motion is granted insofar as it seeks a more definite statement
and, otherwise, denied. Claimant is directed to file an amended claim that
complies in both substance and form with the statutory rules of pleading (i.e.,
CPLR 3013, 3014, 3024, 3025) within sixty (60) days of the date this decision
and order is file-stamped.