New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

STAUFFER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-031-047, Claim No. 103786, Motion No. M-65517


Synopsis


Claimant's request for assignment of counsel in personal injury action is denied.

Case Information

UID:
2002-031-047
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):
103786
Motion number(s):
M-65517
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: WILLIAM D. LONERGAN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

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

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers, numbered 1 to 4, were read on motion by Claimant for appointment of counsel:
1. Claimant's unsworn Affidavit, dated July 7, 2002;
2. Claimant's memorandum of law, filed July 11, 2002;
3. Affidavit of William D. Lonergan, Esq., sworn to July 11, 2002;
4. Verified Claim filed February 7, 2001. 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 February 7, 2001, alleges that, while showering at Collins Correctional Facility, Mr. Stauffer slipped on a wet towel and hyper-extended his knee. He seeks to recover damages in the amount of $140,000.00 for his resulting injuries.

The State opposes the application, arguing that this "slip and fall" case does not involve a fundamental right, nor is it of sufficient complexity to warrant the assignment of counsel. I agree.

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 (Wills 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.

October 7, 2002
Rochester, New York

HON. RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Judge of the Court of Claims