New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MURRAY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-032-534, Claim No. 103632, Motion No. M-67346


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:
Joel Murray, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, NYS Attorney GeneralBy: Frederick H. McGown, III, Assistant Attorney General, Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 31, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

This claim is based on alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 USCA §12101
et seq.)[1] and the policies of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) requiring reasonable accommodations for inmates with disabilities (see Directive 2614) that resulted in discrimination against claimant Joel Murray in connection with his work assignment in the tailor shop at Franklin Correctional Facility in November 2000. At trial of this action, claimant testified that he suffers from a chronic bad back and that his physical limitation was the reason given for his dismissal from the work assignment in the Corcraft industry program.
Claimant acknowledges that as a result of the grievance which he filed the following month, he was given back his job and awarded his back pay. He contends, however, that as a result of intentional discrimination and a pattern of racism, he has been prevented from receiving raises, has been passed over for higher-level work assignments, and has been given unsatisfactory working conditions. He testified that work evaluations he received were unjustifiably negative, so as to preclude him from getting a raise.

Danny McComb, the Industrial Training Supervisor at Franklin Correctional Facility, testified that his duties included teaching inmates how to sew in the tailor shop. He was familiar with claimant and with his work in the tailor shop, which was less than satisfactory. He testified that claimant was repeatedly late for work and that he was removed from the program for some period of time when sent to the Special Housing Unit. Mr. McComb acknowledged that he had written the progress reports and that he maintained a card (Exhibit A) that listed a number of infractions committed by claimant, such as tardiness, sleeping, and refusing direct orders. When asked on cross-examination if claimant's job assignments had been affected by his physical limitations, Mr. McComb acknowledged that they had. He pointed out that claimant must use a cane to get about, and this fact makes it difficult for him to push the pedals on the sewing machines or to carry materials back and forth.[2]

This claim does not set forth a cause of action for which relief can be granted by this Court. The Court of Claims has subject matter jurisdiction only over claims in which the essential nature of the claim is to recover money damages (
Safety Group No. 194--New York State Sheet Metal Roofing & A.C. Contrs. Assn. v State of New York, 298 AD2d 785 [3d Dept 2002]). By his own admission, claimant does not have a cause of action for wrongful discharge and resultant loss of wages. With respect to claimant's allegation that defendant's actions constituted a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the weight of authority indicates that the ADA does not create a private right of action for money damages (see Lugo v St. Nicholas Associates, 2003 WL 22515420 [NY Sup 2003] and cases cited therein). Finally, with respect to any claim for monetary relief that may arise from discretionary determinations of prison officials in evaluating claimant's job performance, that monetary claim would be incidental to question of whether such determinations were arbitrary and capricious or based on substantial evidence, in which case judicial review must be sought by way of a CPLR Article 78 proceeding (Safety Group No. 194--New York State Sheet Metal Roofing & A.C. Contrs. Assn. v State of New York, supra).
The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment for defendant dismissing Claim No. 103632.

Let judgment be entered accordingly.

December 31, 2003
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] 42 USCA §12132 provides: "Subject to the provisions of this subchapter, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity."
[2] Following the trial, claimant moved for an order precluding defendant from making any use of an evaluation report authored by Tim Trombly because Mr. Trombly was not present and no proper foundation was laid. Because there is no need to consider the substance of such report, Motion No. M-67346 is denied as moot.