New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BATTEE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-028-582, Claim No. 106592, Motion No. M-68837


Synopsis


120 day statute of limitations (CCA§10[9]) on inmate's bailment claim began to run upon exhaustion of "personal property claims administrative remedy, established for inmates by the department" not a subsequent inmate grievance. Claim dismissed as untimely.

Case Information

UID:
2004-028-582
Claimant(s):
DAVON BATTEE
Claimant short name:
BATTEE
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
106592
Motion number(s):
M-68837
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RICHARD E. SISE
Claimant's attorney:
DAVON BATTEE, pro se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: Kathleen ArnoldAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 21, 2004
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

The following papers were read on Defendant's motion to dismiss the Claim as untimely and barred by the applicable Statute of Limitations:

1) Notice of Motion and Supporting Affirmation of Assistant Attorney General Kathleen Arnold filed July 19, 2004 (Arnold Affirmation) with annexed

Exhibits A-C;

2) Affidavit in Opposition of DaVon Battee filed August 20, 2004 (Battee Affidavit) with annexed Exhibits A-J.[1]


Filed Papers: Verified Claim filed September 6, 2002; Verified Answer filed

October 16, 2002.

At all times relevant, Claimant was an inmate at the Defendant's Coxsackie Correctional Facility. The underlying Claim alleges two causes of action. The first is a bailment claim in which Claimant alleges a food package with a value of $39.84 was lost by the Defendant after it was delivered to Defendant by Claimant's wife at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility. The second cause of action seeks punitive damages.

Defendant moves for dismissal based upon its first affirmative defense, that the Claim is untimely served, a defense that was preserved with particularity in its answer (see Court of Claims Act §11[c]; Sinacore v State of New York, 176 Misc 2d 1, 6; Fowles v State of New York, 152 Misc 2d 837).

Generally, the Department of Correctional Services has established a two-tier system for handling personal property claims consisting of an initial review and an appeal. (7 NYCRR 1700.3). Both of these separate and distinct steps must be completed at the time a claim is filed and served in order for a claimant to be deemed to have exhausted his administrative remedies pursuant to CCA 10 (9). (Richards v State of New York, Ct Cl, Corbett, J., Claim No. 102440, UID No. 2000-005-526, August 3, 2000; Christian v State of New York, Ct Cl, Midey, J., Claim No. 103806, UID No. 2001-009-024, May 11, 2001). Court of Claims Act §10(9) further requires that a claim must be filed and served within one hundred twenty days after the date on which the inmate has exhausted such remedy.

Here, there is no dispute that the claim accrued on July 14, 2001 (see Battee Affidavit ¶ 5). The parties disagree however, as to when Claimant exhausted his administrative remedies. Defendant maintains that Claimant's time to commence this action began to run upon the denial of the personal property claim on September 19, 2001 by the Superintendent (Arnold Affirmation ¶ 5; Exhibit B). Claimant asserts that his time began to run on May 9, 2003 (Battee Affidavit ¶ 11a) when an inmate grievance he filed was denied because only then had he fully exhausted his "available administrative remedies" (id. ¶ 7).

Claimant's argument is unpersuasive and his reliance upon Beatty v Goord, 210 F Supp 2d 250, is misplaced. Court of Claims Act § 10(9), by its plain and unambiguous language, requires exhaustion of the "personal property claims administrative remedy, established for inmates by the department" (id.). Resort to the inmate grievance process applicable to other disputes does not extend Claimant's time to commence his bailment claim. Therefore, Claimant had 120 days from September 19, 2001 (see Blanche v State of New York, 3 Misc 3d 830 [accrual is measured from date of denial]) to initiate this action. As such, the service and filing of his Claim in September 2002 renders same untimely.

As to Claimant's second cause of action for punitive damages, the Court sua sponte dismisses same as punitive damages are not available against the State of New York as a matter of public policy (Sharapata v Town of Islip, 56 NY2d 332; Wheeler v State of New York, 104 AD2d 496).

Accordingly, the Defendant's motion is granted and Claim No. 106592 shall be and hereby is dismissed in its entirety.


December 21, 2004
Albany, New York

HON. RICHARD E. SISE
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1] Claimant had advised the Court in writing on August 12, 2004 that his opposition papers would be delayed due to photocopying. Without objection, the Court has accepted the papers for consideration on this motion.