New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LOCKWOOD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-009-65, Claim No. 109762, Motion No. M-68894


Claimant's motion seeking permission to amend his notice of intention and his claim was denied.

Case Information

DONALD LOCKWOOD The Court has amended the caption of this claim to reflect its decision made herein.
Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :
The Court has amended the caption of this claim to reflect its decision made herein.
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: Mary R. Humphrey
Senior AttorneyOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 19, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant has brought this motion seeking an order permitting him to amend his notice of intention and claim. In this motion, claimant also seeks permission to proceed as a poor person and for the appointment of counsel to represent him in this claim.

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:
Notice of Motion, Affidavit in Support, with Attachments 1,2

Affirmation (Affidavit) in Support of Request for Assignment of Counsel 3

Affirmation in Opposition, with Exhibits 4

In his motion, claimant seeks permission to amend both his notice of intention and his claim in order to add an additional individual, Commissioner Goord, as a defendant, as well as to add the official title to two other individually named defendants previously listed in the caption of his claim. At the time he instituted this motion, claimant had not yet filed any claim with the Clerk of the Court. This Court has been advised, however, that his claim has since been filed with the Clerk of the Court as of August 24, 2004.

With regard to claimant's request to amend his notice of intention, the Court notes that the limited purposes of a notice of intention are to place the State on notice of a potential claim against it, and also to provide a claimant with additional time in which to institute such claim. Since claimant, in the instant manner, has now filed and served his claim, there is no purpose whatsoever in granting claimant permission to amend his notice of intention.

In connection with claimant's request for permission to amend his claim, the Court has examined the filed claim, as well as the proposed amended claim submitted with claimant's moving papers. The two claims are identical in their allegations, with the only difference being the caption of the claim, in which claimant seeks to add an additional State official, as well as add the representative capacities to two other previously named individual defendants.

The Court of Claims, however, is a court of limited jurisdiction, and is authorized to hear claims only against the State of New York and certain public authorities[1]. When the alleged wrong-doer is a State employee, the proper party defendant in this Court is the "State of New York" only and not the named employee, whether he is named individually or in his official capacity as a State employee. This Court, therefore, does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the individuals who have been specifically named as defendants in this claim, or sought to be added as a defendant by this motion.

Claimant has also made application for poor person relief and the assignment of counsel.

Claimant's application for a reduction of the filing fee in this claim has previously been addressed by an Order of Presiding Judge Richard E. Sise, filed August 31, 2004. Claimant, however, has also requested the appointment of counsel to represent him in this matter.

The decision to assign counsel is a matter of judicial discretion, and such an assignment is not an absolute right in civil litigation (Matter of Smiley, 36 NY2d 433). The allegations made in this claim establish to the satisfaction of the Court that this is the type of claim that is routinely handled by inmate claimants on a pro se basis, and the claim does not involve any complicated issues of fact or law. The Court therefore finds that this case does not warrant the exercise of discretion in assigning counsel under the standards of Matter of Smiley, supra.

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-68894 is hereby DENIED in its entirety.

October 19, 2004
Syracuse, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] None of the public authorities subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims were named as defendants in the instant claim.