New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WILSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-019-568, Claim No. 110497, Motion Nos. M-70551, CM-70606


State's cross-motion for dismissal for failure to state a claim regarding delay in notification of death of a parent is granted; claim dismissed; claimant's discovery motion is denied as moot.

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:
September 13, 2005

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, moves to compel the defendant to provide various discovery responses. The State of New York (hereinafter "State") opposes the motion and cross-moves for dismissal on the ground the claim fails to state a cause of action. (CPLR 3211 [a] [7]).

Claimant opposes the State's cross-motion.

This claim alleges that officials at Southport Correctional Facility failed to timely inform claimant of his mother's death on December 8, 2004. More specifically, the claim alleges that prison officials received notification of claimant's mother's death on Saturday, December 11, 2004, but did not inform him of her death until two days later on Monday, December 13, 2004.

The court will first address the State's cross-motion for dismissal since it addresses jurisdictional issues. It is well-settled that:
[o]n a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211, the pleading is to be afforded a liberal construction (see, CPLR 3026). We accept the facts as alleged in the complaint as true, accord [claimant] the benefit of every possible favorable inference, and determine only whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory [citations omitted]....In assessing a motion under CPLR 3211 (a) (7)...'the criterion is whether the proponent of the pleading has a cause of action, not whether he has stated one' [citations omitted].

(Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87-88).

The State's basis for dismissal is that the State did not violate Directive #4206 cited by claimant and, in any event, a violation of a regulation does not automatically create a cause of action. The court agrees. Directive #4206, entitled "Notification of Death or Grave Illness of Inmate Family Members," states that "[i]f there is conclusive evidence of relationship, the chaplain or senior counselor meets with the inmate as quickly as practicable to give him/her the information." (State's Ex B; emphasis added). Even assuming for purposes of argument that the State violated this rule by waiting until Monday to notify claimant of his mother's death, a violation of a regulation or directive does not impliedly create a cause of action for money damages. (A. Rabb Alamin/R. Price v State of New York, Ct Cl, April 26, 1999, McNamara, J., Claim No. 98122, p 2; see also Gill v State of New York, Ct Cl, July 13, 2001, Corbett, Jr., J., Claim No. 103750, Motion No. M-63268, [UID No. 2001-005-521]).[1] Additionally, the court notes that attached to this claim is a copy of an inmate grievance complaint filed by claimant in response to which it was noted that "[a]fter consulting family it was decided to postpone notifying grievant until Monday 12/13/04 to insure availability of support staff (counselor, MHU if need). Family agreed this was a good idea." (Claim, attachment). In view of the foregoing, this court finds that this claim fails to state a cause of action and must be dismissed.

In view of the foregoing, it is ORDERED, that the State's cross-motion for dismissal, CM-70606, is GRANTED and Claim No. 110497 is DISMISSED; claimant's motion to compel discovery, Motion No. M-70551, is DENIED as moot.

September 13, 2005
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The court considered the following papers in connection with these motions:
  1. Claim, filed February 14, 2005.
  2. Notice of Motion No. M-70551, undated, and filed August 8, 2005.
  3. Affidavit of Eric Wilson, in support of motion, verified August 3, 2005.
  4. Notice of Cross-Motion No. CM-70606, dated August 25, 2005, and filed August 26, 2005.
  5. Affirmation of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, in support of cross-motion, dated August 24, 2005, with attached exhibits.
  6. "Reply to Defendant's Cross Motion", of Eric Wilson, undated, and filed September 6, 2005, with attached exhibits.

[1]Selected unreported decisions from the Court of Claims are available via the Internet at