New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MORALES v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-019-531, Claim No. 110298, Motion No. M-69896


Claimant's motion to strike State's verified answer and/or affirmative defenses is denied.

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:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Carol A. Cocchiola, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 19, 2005

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, moves for an order striking the defendant's verified answer, as well as the two affirmative defenses contained therein. The defendant State of New York (hereinafter "State") opposes the motion.

This claim alleges that claimant was wrongfully confined in involuntary protective custody without a hearing at the Elmira Correctional Facility from September 2, 2004 through October 22, 2004. This claim was filed with the Clerk of the Court on January 3, 2005. The State filed a verified answer on February 9, 2005 containing two affirmative defenses.

Now, by way of this motion, claimant seeks to strike not only the State's two affirmative defenses, but also challenges the portion of the State's verified answer that responds to the claim's specific allegations with either a denial or a statement that the State lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to truth or falsity of each allegation.

With respect to claimant's objections to the State's general denials contained in the verified answer, CPLR 3018 (a) requires 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." A defendant is entitled to make general denials on matters that the party making the allegations has the burden of proof. (Northway Eng'g v Felix Indus., 77 NY2d 332, 336). Stated another way, by denying these allegations, the State is simply requiring the claimant to prove his allegations. (Siegel, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 7B, CPLR C3018:2). As such, claimant's motion to strike the general denials contained in the State's verified answer is denied.

Next, claimant moves to strike the State's two affirmative defenses. The State's first affirmative defense alleges defendant's actions are immune from liability, while the State's second affirmative defense includes allegations of claimant's culpable conduct, including assumption of the risk, as well as the culpable conduct of third parties. It is well-settled that, "[a] party may move to strike any scandalous or prejudicial matter unnecessarily inserted in a pleading." (CPLR 3024 [b]). Affirmative defenses are not dispositive of a claim and are merely assertions of a party, absent prejudice, that will not be stricken. (CPLR 3024; 5 Weinstein-Korn-Miller, NY Civ Prac ¶ 3018.14). In view of the foregoing, the court finds that the State's affirmative defenses are neither prejudicial or scandalous and are properly included by the State in its verified answer. Claimant's motion to strike the State's affirmative defenses is denied.

Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, it is ORDERED that claimant's motion to strike the defendant's verified answer and/or affirmative defenses, Motion No. M-69896, is DENIED.

April 19, 2005
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. Claim, filed January 3, 2005.
  2. Verified Answer, filed February 9, 2005.
  3. Notice of Motion No. M-69896, dated March 7, 2004, and filed March 17, 2005.
  4. Affidavit of Anthony Morales, in support of motion, sworn to February 24, 2005, with attachments.
  5. Affirmation of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated April 8, 2005, and filed April 11, 2005.