New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

DELAIGLE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-015-409, Claim No. NONE, Motion No. M-68259


Synopsis


Late claim application denied where claimant failed to provide expert medical evidence tending to show State departed from accepted medical practices and standards and failed to offer a reasonable excuse for his delay.

Case Information

UID:
2004-015-409
Claimant(s):
MICHAEL M. DELAIGLE
Claimant short name:
DELAIGLE
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
NONE
Motion number(s):
M-68259
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney:
Michael M. Delaigle, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Glenn C. King, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 1, 2004
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

Movant's application for late claim relief pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 10 (6) is denied. The proposed claim submitted on this application seeks to recover unspecified damages for alleged medical malpractice by DOCS personnel in failing to properly diagnose and treat a left knee injury which movant sustained while playing basketball at Mount McGregor Correctional Facility on April 25, 2003 and which he re-injured in the same manner on May 7, 2003 and May 31, 2003.

Subdivision 6 of section 10 of the Court of Claims Act permits this Court, if the applicable Statute of Limitations set forth in article 2 of the CPLR has not expired, to allow the filing of a late claim upon consideration of the following factors: "whether the delay in filing the claim was excusable; whether the state had notice of the essential facts constituting the claim; whether the state had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances underlying the claim; whether the claim appears to be meritorious; whether the failure to file or serve upon the attorney general a timely claim or to serve upon the attorney general a notice of intention resulted in substantial prejudice to the state; and whether the claimant has any other available remedy."

The first issue for determination upon a late claim is whether the application is timely. Movant alleges that the malpractice complained of began in April 2003 and continued periodically until September 25, 2003 when he was examined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) . The Court will assume for purposes of this determination that the application would be timely as to any cause of action for medical malpractice accruing less than two years and six months prior to the filing date of the application pursuant to CPLR § 214-a.

Turning to the statutory factors, this Court has broad discretion in deciding a motion to permit the late filing of a claim (Ledet v State of New York, 207 AD2d 965), and the statutory factors are not exhaustive or one factor controlling (Matter of Gavigan v State of New York, 176 AD2d 1117). The most important factor is whether the potential claim has merit, as it would be a futile exercise to permit litigation of a clearly baseless lawsuit (Savino v State of New York, 199 AD2d 254).

The excuse advanced for the failure to timely serve and file a claim is movant's ignorance of the Court of Claims Act requirements. Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse (Griffin v John Jay College, 266 AD2d 16). Nor does the Court find that confinement in the special housing unit (SHU) of a correctional facility is a reasonable excuse for the delay (see, Bommarito v State of New York, 35 AD2d 458, Plate v State of New York, 92 Misc 2d 1033). Accordingly, this factor weighs against granting the motion.

The intertwined issues of notice, opportunity to investigate and prejudice will be considered together. The Court is disadvantaged by the non-specific nature of the proposed claim in attempting to determine what specific acts or omissions of referenced but unnamed medical personnel other than Dr. Crook gave rise to this proposed claim or whether the State had notice of movant's complaints and an opportunity to investigate his allegations. Movant's reliance upon Calzada v State of New York, 121 AD2d 988, and Cole v State of New York, 64 AD2d 1023 in this regard is misplaced. Under the present circumstances these factors weigh against granting the motion.

Furthermore, it is well established that a motion for late claim relief involving a claim for dental or medical malpractice must be accompanied by expert medical evidence demonstrating that "the diagnosis and treatment rendered to claimant by state personnel departed from accepted medical practices and standards" (Perez, Matter of, v State of New York, 293 AD2d 918, 919; see also, Gonzalez, Matter of, v State of New York, 299 AD2d 675; Fiore v Galang, 64 NY2d 999; Duffy, Matter of, v State of New York, 264 AD2d 911). Movant offered no such evidence tending to prove the merit of his proposed claim alleging negligent diagnosis and treatment of his injury and this factor weighs against granting the motion.

As to the final factor, it cannot be determined on the basis of movant's submission whether there is any other remedy available.

Consideration of all of the above factors persuades the Court that the application for late claim relief should be and thereby is denied.



June 1, 2004
Saratoga Springs, New York

HON. FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Judge of the Court of Claims


The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Motion for permission to file a late claim dated March, 2004 with exhibits;
  2. Affirmation of Glenn C. King dated April 14, 2004;
  3. Reply to defendant's opposition dated April 26, 2004.