New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MADERA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-028-535, Claim No. 107838, Motion No. M-67839


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:
JOSE A. MADERA, pro se
Defendant's attorney:
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 6, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers were read and considered on Claimant's motion for an order to vacate a prior order dismissing the Claim and restore it to the Court's calender:
1. Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit of Jose A. Madera (Madera Affidavit) filed January 2, 2004, with Annexed Exhibits 1-3;

2. Opposition: None

3. Filed Papers: Claim, filed June 6, 2003; Answer, filed June 30, 2003; Madera v. State of New York, Ct Cl, unreported order, filed June 24, 2003, Sise, J., Claim No. 107838.

The underlying Claim, which alleges negligent supervision by the State of New York for injuries sustained when Claimant was attacked by another inmate at Attica Correctional Facility was filed on June 6, 2003. In an order filed June 24, 2003, the Court denied Claimant's prior application pursuant to CPLR 1101 (f) for a reduction of the required filing fee as the Claimant was found to have sufficient resources to pay the statutory fee and was directed to pay the full $50.00 filing fee within 120 days of the filing date of the order or the Claim would be dismissed. On November 5, 2003, the Claim was closed for failure to pay the filing fee.

Upon receipt of the dismissal, Claimant wrote to the Court stating he was unaware of the June 24, 2003 Order because he suffered a lung collapse on June 15, 2003, resulting in a comatose condition for eighteen days and a hospital stay outside the correctional facility until July 17, 2003. Claimant further submitted the $50.00 filing fee on November 21, 2003 which was returned with a letter advising Claimant that a formal motion was required to be made to request that the Claim be restored to the calender. The instant motion followed on January 2, 2004.

Court of Claims Act § 19 (3) provides that "[c]laims may be dismissed for failure to appear or prosecute or be restored to the calender for good cause shown, in the discretion of the court" (see 22 NYCRR 206.15; see also CPLR 5015 [a] [1]). A party may be relieved of a prior judgment or order on the ground of "excusable default" only if a motion for this relief is made within one year after the party was served with the order or judgment (CPLR 5015 [a] [1]). Courts have held that, in some circumstances, they have the inherent power to vacate a judgment "in the interest of justice" even after the one-year period has expired (see e.g. Molesky v Molesky, 255 AD2d 821). A claimant seeking to vacate a default under this provision must demonstrate a reasonable excuse for its default in appearing on the motion and a meritorious cause of action (see e.g. Cippitelli v Town of Niskayuna, 277 Ad2d 540, 541).

Here, Claimant has timely made his application to vacate his default prior to the expiration of the one year period. As such, the court exercises its discretion to consider the application. In reviewing the Court's file, the filing fee order was mailed to Claimant on

June 24, 2003 and addressed to him at Orleans Correctional Facility. The facility responded on June 30, 2003 with a letter stating the Claimant was currently absent from the facility and that all mail will be held until his return. The Claimant alleges he had no knowledge of the

June 24, 2003 filing fee order because of his lengthy hospitalization outside the correctional facility and health complications after the collapse of his lungs on June 16, 2003. Moreover, given that it is preferable to have claims resolved upon the merits (see Heinrichs v City of Albany, 239 AD2d 639, 640), the Court exercises its discretion and grants Claimant's application to restore the at-issue Claim to the trial Calender.

Accordingly, Motion No. M-67839 is granted and the Clerk of the Court is directed to take the necessary action to restore the Claim and for assignment, if applicable, of same.

May 6, 2004
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims