New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BONEZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-032-004, Claim No. 108128, Motion No. M-67488


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:
William F. Bonez, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, NYS Attorney General
By: Kathleen M. Resnick, Assistant Attorney General,Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 11, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is a claim for personal property that was allegedly lost when claimant was transferred from Upstate Correctional Facility to Auburn Correctional Facility in the fall of 2002. In its answer defendant State of New York raised five affirmative defenses. Claimant does not seek to strike the defenses but instead challenges the portion of the answer that responds to the claim's specific allegations with either a denial or a statement that defendant lacks information sufficient to form a belief as to truth or falsity (answer, ¶¶ 1,2). Claimant objects to these statements, asserting that defendant "does not set forth the exact nature" of these denials or other statements and correctly observes that many Assistant Attorneys General use this type of non-specific denial.

It has been long established that the allegations in a complaint (here, a claim) "are controverted or put in issue only by a general or specific denial" (Smith v Coe, 170 NY 162 [1902]). An answer composed of such denials "gives to the defendant the right to require the plaintiff to establish by proof all the material facts necessary to show his right to recover" (Schlesinger v McDonald, 106 AD 570 [1st Dept 1905]). Modern practice under the CPLR continues this approach to responsive pleadings, requiring that "[a] party shall deny those statements known or believed by him to be untrue [and] specify those statements as to the truth of which he lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief and this shall have the effect of a denial" (CPLR 3018[a]).

General denials relate to matters on which the party making the allegations, not the party denying them, has the burden of proof (Northway Engineering, Inc. v Felix Industries, Inc., 77 NY2d 332, 336 [1991]). Consequently, denying the allegations of a claim accomplishes the only thing that is required of a defendant at the stage of pleading: putting claimant to his proof. "When an allegation is denied, the allegation must be proved by the party pleading it" (Siegel, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Consol Laws of NY, Book 7B, CPLR 3018, C3018:2; see also Edwards v State of New York, UID #2003-032-084, Claim No. 107379, Motion Nos. M-66911, CM-66960 [Sept 11, 2003], Hard, J.). Here, claimant is the party alleging that certain acts and events resulted in damages for which the State is liable. By denying those allegations, the State has signaled that claimant must prove those allegations.

Claimant's motion is denied.

February 11, 2004
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were read on claimant's motion to strike defendant's answer:
1. Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit of William F. Bonez, pro se

2. Affirmation in Opposition of Kathleen M. Resnick, Esq., AAG, with annexed Exhibits

3. Reply Affidavit (captioned Notice of Cross-Motion) of William F. Bonez, pro se

Filed papers: Claim; Answer