Filed Papers: Claim.
The State has moved to dismiss this claim, contending that the Court lacks
jurisdiction because the claim fails to state a theory of liability upon which
the State could arguably be held liable, and that the claim fails to state a sum
certain as required by Court of Claims Act § 11(b). In response to this
motion, claimant has submitted an unsworn statement dated May 3, 2004 (see
In his filed claim, claimant seeks to recover damages for personal injuries
allegedly suffered by him on January 11, 2004 at Mohawk Correctional Facility,
where he was then incarcerated. Claimant alleges that he was running across a
wet floor when he slipped and fell, causing damages to his head and lower back.
He further alleges that there were no caution signs advising inmates that the
floor was wet. Furthermore, he alleges that a correction officer had directed
him to run across the floor to pick up a bowl of food.
In order to satisfy the requirements of Court of Claims Act § 11(b), the
allegations set forth in a claim must be sufficiently definite so as to allow
the State to investigate the claim properly and ascertain its potential
liability under the circumstances. Substantial compliance with this section,
rather than absolute exactness, is required (Heisler v State of New York,
78 AD2d 767).
Contrary to the assertions made by defendant's counsel, claimant's allegations
set forth in the instant claim contain sufficient detail regarding the incident
to satisfy the requirements of § 11(b), and the existence of a
potential negligence cause of action against the State.
Defendant, however, has also moved to dismiss this claim based upon claimant's
failure to set forth the total sum claimed in his claim as also required by
Since actions against the State are permitted only through the State's waiver
of sovereign immunity, statutory requirements conditioning suits must be
strictly construed (Lichtenstein v State of New York, 93 NY2d 911).
Recently, the Court of Appeals has examined the provisions of § 11(b), and
has determined that a claim must contain the "specific substantive conditions
upon the State's waiver of sovereign immunity" (Lepkowski v State of New
York, 1 NY3d 201, 207). The Court included "the total sum claimed" as one
of the "specific substantive conditions" which must be included in a claim
against the State (Lepkowski v State of New York, supra).
In this matter, it is undisputed that claimant has failed to set forth in this
claim the total sum sought as damages against the State for its alleged
negligence, failing to satisfy one of the literal requirements of Court of
Claims Act § 11(b). As a result, and pursuant to the dictates of
Lepkowski, this Court must find that the claim is jurisdictionally
In his unsworn statement submitted in response to this motion, claimant has
requested permission to amend his claim to correct this omission. However, a
jurisdictional defect may not be corrected by amendment of the original claim
(Grande v State of New York, 160 Misc 2d 383; Ferrer v State of New
York, 172 Misc 2d 1).
Although this claim is jurisdictionally defective and must be dismissed,
claimant, at his option, may explore the option of late claim relief pursuant to
Court of Claims Act § 10(6).
Based on the foregoing, it is therefore
ORDERED, that Motion No. M-68390 is hereby GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED, that Claim No. 109114 is hereby DISMISSED.