New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HARRIS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK , #2004-030-562, Claim No. 106085, Motion No. M-68415


Synopsis


Case Information

UID:
2004-030-562
Claimant(s):
GEORGE HARRIS
Claimant short name:
HARRIS
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
106085
Motion number(s):
M-68415
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Claimant's attorney:
GEORGE HARRIS, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERALBY: JEANE L. STRICKLAND SMITH, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 10, 2004
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers, numbered 1 to 5, were read and considered on Claimant's motion


for an Order, pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules §3211, dismissing defenses:

1,2 Notice of Motion; Affidavit by George Harris, Claimant and attached exhibits

  1. Affirmation in Opposition by Jeane L. Strickland Smith, Assistant Attorney General and attached exhibit
4,5 Filed Papers: Claim, Answer

After carefully considering the papers submitted and the applicable law the motion is disposed of as follows:

George Harris, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim Number 106085 that Defendant's agents negligently failed to provide him with adequate mental health screening and associated care while he was in the custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services (hereafter DOCS). In addition to general denials, in its Answer the Defendant asserts nine defenses, including Claimant's alleged culpable conduct, immunity for privileged discretionary determinations, assumption of risk, failure to state a cause of action, lack of jurisdiction due to lack of compliance with Court of Claims Act §11 requirements for the descriptive contents of a claim, failure to exhaust administrative remedies, lack of jurisdiction over any cause of action based upon alleged violations of federal constitutional claims, and a failure to mitigate damages.

Civil Practice Law and Rules §3211(b) provides in pertinent part: " A party may move for judgment dismissing one or more defenses on the ground that a defense is not stated or has no merit." In his affidavit in support of the motion, Claimant appends copies of portions of Office of Mental Health guidelines, as well as some federal guidelines, but does not make any specific reference from these policies - whether they apply or not - to the defenses asserted by the State of New York. Claimant repeats only that the defenses ". . . have no merit, based on the Policies and Procedures, which in turn, was and still is implimented by the defendant (State of New York) and yet, continues to violate these same policies and procedures due to neglegent and discriminating acts of it's employees.(sic)" [Affidavit by George Harris, ¶1].

An affirmative defense is raised in an Answer to provide adequate notice to the Claimant of issues of law or fact that the Defendant may raise at trial or in later motion practice. Cipriano v City of New York, 96 AD2d 817 (2d Dept 1983). Indeed, Civil Practice Law and Rules §3018(b), concerning responsive pleadings, provides in pertinent part that a ". . . party shall plead all matters which if not pleaded would be likely to take the adverse party by surprise or would raise issues of fact not appearing on the face of a prior pleading such as . . . collateral estoppel, culpable conduct . . . or statute of limitation. The application of this subdivision shall not be confined to the instances enumerated."

As noted by the Assistant Attorney General, although there has been previous motion practice on this claim, there does not appear to have been much discovery, making it difficult to tailor any defenses more narrowly.

Claimant has not shown how the defenses asserted in the Answer lack merit or are otherwise deficient. Accordingly, Motion Number M-68415 is in all respects DENIED.



August 10, 2004
White Plains, New York

HON. THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Judge of the Court of Claims