New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

JOHNSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-031-038, Claim No. 108226, Motion No. M-67517


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:
Defendant's attorney:
New York State Attorney General
BY: HEATHER R. RUBINSTEIN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 10, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers, numbered 1 to 3, were read on motion by Defendant for an order dismissing the Claim:
1. Notice of Motion, filed October 16, 2003;
2. Affirmation of Heather R. Rubinstein, Esq., dated October 14, 2003, with attached exhibit;
3. Filed papers: Claim. This is Defendant's motion, served in lieu of an answer, seeking dismissal of the Claim. Claimant is an inmate at the Southport Correctional Facility (Southport), but his claim allegedly arises out of occurrences at the Auburn Correctional Facility (Auburn). According to the claim, Claimant filed a grievance at Auburn in April of 2003. Nothing in the claim indicates the nature of the grievance nor identifies any participants in the alleged grievance. In May of 2003, Claimant allegedly filed a second copy of his April grievance and complains that the Auburn staff "refuses to acknowledge receiving" the grievance. In July of 2003, Claimant allegedly wrote a letter of complaint to the Commissioner for the Department of Correctional Services concerning his April grievance. The claim further alleges that, in August of 2003, Claimant received a memo from the grievance committee stating that "another grievance complaint" filed at Auburn had been lost and that Claimant should submit another copy. Once again, nothing in the claim indicates the nature of this grievance. Finally, Claimant neglects to attach to his claim copies of any of the grievances, letters or memos referred to in his claim. Based on these cryptic facts, Claimant alleges causes of action sounding in gross negligence, negligence and alleged violations of Claimant's constitutional rights.

Court of Claims Act § 11(b) places certain substantive conditions upon the State's waiver of sovereign immunity by requiring that the claim specify " . . . the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, and the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained and the total sum claimed." Claimant's claim fails to fulfill these substantive requirements. The claim does not even attempt to identify the time when or the place where the alleged claim arose, other than at Auburn. As to the "items of damages" or "injuries claimed," the claim is silent. As to "the total sum claimed," the claim merely requests money damages in an unspecified amount. The nature of the claim is, likewise, left unspecified. In fact, it is impossible to tell from the claim if the Claimant is seeking redress for whatever formed the basis for his grievance or grievances, or if he is claiming that he was somehow injured as a result of a failure to receive notification of the filing of his grievance or grievances, or because one of his grievances was supposedly lost. The paucity of information supplied by Claimant in his claim is simply insufficiently definite "to enable the State . . . to investigate the claim[s] promptly and to ascertain its liability under the circumstances" (see Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201, 207 quoting, Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d 767). Claimant's vague and confusing discourse of conclusory allegations of negligence and of violations of constitutional rights, without any factual support or specifics relating to these allegations, are insufficient to state any viable cause of action (see Hodge v State of New York, 213 AD2d 766), and the claim must be dismissed.

Accordingly, it is:

ORDERED, that Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is granted and Claim No. 108226 is hereby dismissed. The Clerk is directed to close the file.

May 10, 2004
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims