New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

STAUFFER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-031-020, Claim No. 105467, Motion No. M-64713


Synopsis


Claimant's request for assignment of counsel in medical malpractice/negligence claim denied on basis of Smiley, Matter of, 36 NY2d 433.

Case Information

UID:
2002-031-020
Claimant(s):
HAROLD STAUFFER
Claimant short name:
STAUFFER
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
105467
Motion number(s):
M-64713
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Claimant's attorney:
HAROLD STAUFFER, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
New York State Attorney General
BY: RICHARD B. FRIEDFERTIG, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 7, 2002
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers, numbered 1 to 6, were read on motion by Claimant for appointment of counsel:
  1. Claimant's Affidavit, sworn to February 5, 2002 ;
  2. Claimant's memorandum of law, dated February 3, 2002;
  3. March 11, 2002 letter of Richard B. Friedfertig, Esq.;
  4. March 12, 2002 letters from Claimant to Court and to Opposing counsel;
  5. Verified Claim, filed January 14, 2002;
  6. January 28, 2002 order of Honorable Susan Phillips Read.
This is Claimant's motion seeking appointment of counsel to represent him in the preparation and trial of his claim against the State. The claim, filed January 14, 2002, seeks to recover damages for personal injuries arising from the alleged medical malpractice and medical negligence of several Department of Correctional Services employees between the dates of May 4, 2001 and July 3, 2001. Claimant seeks $150,000.00 for pain and suffering and $150,000.00 for mental anguish.

The State has not opposed Claimant's application. However, by letter dated March 11, 2002, Defendant notified the Court that it had not been served with motion papers. On March 22, 2002, Claimant filed an affidavit of service indicating service of the motion papers upon Defendant on March 12, 2002. Defendant has made no subsequent appearance.

The Court of Appeals has held that there is no constitutional or statutory requirement that indigents be assigned private counsel in civil litigation of this nature (Matter of Smiley, 36 NY2d 433). Smiley has been interpreted for the proposition that Courts should not routinely approve requests made by indigents for the assignment of private counsel without compensation unless the litigation involves grievous forfeiture or loss of a fundamental right (Willis v City of Troy, 258 AD2d 849, lv to app dismissed, 93 NY2d 1000; Morgenthau v Garcia, 148 Misc 2d 900, 903). I have examined the underlying claim and find that this matter involves neither a fundamental right, nor is of sufficient complexity to warrant assignment of counsel (see Matter of Smiley, supra; Matter of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hosp. Ctr. 159 Misc 2d 932, 936, modified and remanded, 215 AD2d 337).

Based on the foregoing, it is;

ORDERED, Claimant's motion for the assignment of counsel to represent him in this matter is denied.

June 7, 2002
Rochester, New York

HON. RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Judge of the Court of Claims