New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

STEWARTSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-009-11, Claim No. NONE, Motion No. M-67792


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
BY: G. Lawrence Dillon, Esq.,
Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 19, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant seeks permission to serve and file a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 10(6).

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:
Motion for Permission to File a Late Claim, Affidavit in Support of Motion, Proposed "Notice of Intention File Claim" 1,2,3

Affirmation in Opposition 4

Claimant, proceeding pro se, seeks permission to serve and file a late claim, apparently based upon his confinement to the Special Housing Unit at Oneida Correctional Facility on June 17, 2003. Confinement in the Special Housing Unit at Oneida Correctional Facility apparently continued until July 14, 2003, when claimant was then transferred to Mid-State Correctional Facility, where he was confined to the Special Housing Unit at that facility until September 5, 2003.

This application, however, suffers from certain procedural and legal defects. Claimant has failed to submit a notice of motion with his application, as required by § 206.8(a) of the Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims. His failure to include the required notice of motion is a fatal defect to this application (J.A. Valenti Elec. Co. v Power Line Constructors, 123 AD2d 604; Vanek v Mercy Hosp., 135 AD2d 707).

Additionally, claimant's papers include a proposed notice of intention, but do not include a proposed claim, as required by Court of Claims Act § 10(6). Failure to include a proposed claim also requires this Court to deny his application (see, Grant v State of New York, Ct Cl, unreported decision and order dated September 6, 2000, Read P.J., Motion No. M-61919, UID No. 2000-001-049)[1].

Both of these defects, in and of themselves, therefore require denial of this application.

In the interests of judicial economy, however, the Court has also considered the merits of claimant's application, based upon the allegations which can be gleaned from claimant's moving papers and defendant's response.

The Court, in its discretion, may authorize the filing of a late claim "at any time before an action asserting a like claim against a citizen of the state would be barred under the provisions of article two of the civil practice law and rules" (Court of Claims Act § 10[6]). In order to determine an application for permission to serve and file a late claim, the Court must consider, among other relevant factors, the six factors set forth in § 10(6) of the Court of Claims Act. The factors set forth therein are: (1) whether the delay in filing the claim was excusable; (2) whether the State had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim; (3) whether the State had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances underlying the claim; (4) whether the claim appears meritorious; (5) whether substantial prejudice resulted from the failure to timely file and the failure to serve upon the Attorney General a timely claim or notice of intention to file a claim; and (6) whether any other remedy is available. The Court is afforded considerable discretion in determining whether to permit the late filing of a claim (see, Matter of Gavigan v State of New York, 176 AD2d 1117).

While the presence or absence of any one factor is not dispositive (see, Bay Terrace Coop. Section IV v New York State Employees' Retirement Sys. Policemen's and Firemen's Retirement Sys., 55 NY2d 979), the most critical factor is the apparent merit of the proposed claim (see, Plate v State of New York, 92 Misc 2d 1033). A claimant need only establish that the proposed claim is not patently groundless, frivolous, or legally defective and that there is reasonable cause to believe that a valid cause of action exists (see, Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway Auth., 92 Misc 2d 1). If a claimant cannot meet this low threshold and the claim is patently without merit, it would be meaningless and futile for the Court to grant the application even if all the other factors in Court of Claims Act § 10(6) weighed in favor of claimant's request (see, Savino v State of New York, 199 AD2d 254; Prusack v State of New York, 117 AD2d 729).

In this matter, the gravamen of claimant's proposed action is that he was confined to the Special Housing Unit unjustly, without merit. According to the affirmation in opposition submitted by defendant's attorney, however, it appears that claimant was originally placed in the Special Housing Unit at Oneida Correctional Facility based upon an inmate misbehavior report, and that confinement was continued following a disciplinary hearing held at Oneida Correctional Facility, in which claimant was found guilty of the behavior alleged in that report.

Claimant apparently filed an administrative appeal of this determination, and on or about September 10, 2003 (after claimant had been released from his confinement in the Special Housing Unit), the original decision was reversed and the findings were expunged.

It is well established, however, that actions, including restrictive confinement, taken against a claimant arising from disciplinary hearings in compliance with applicable rules and regulations are entitled to absolute immunity, due to their quasi-judicial nature (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212). Based upon this privilege, set forth in Arteaga, a claimant may not recover damages based upon allegations of wrongful confinement for penalties and sanctions imposed in a disciplinary proceeding, even when such decision is ultimately overturned on administrative appeal (Melette v State of New York, 163 AD2d 703).

Claimant, therefore, has failed to assert any potentially meritorious cause of action to satisfy the criteria of Court of Claims Act § 10(6).

Accordingly, for all of the reasons set forth herein, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-67792 is hereby DENIED.

February 19, 2004
Syracuse, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] Unreported decisions of the Court of Claims are available via the Internet at