New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WATSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-032-052, Claim No. 111107, Motion No. M-71496


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:
Charles Watson, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, NYS Attorney General
By: Belinda A. Wagner, Assistant Attorney General, Of Counsel
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
June 19, 2006

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant moves this Court to reargue and/or renew the Court's Decision and Order filed February 22, 2006, dismissing the claim. Claimant seeks leave to reargue dismissal of his medical malpractice causes of action and renewal of his argument regarding his third and fourth causes of action. Defendant opposes this relief.

In July 2005, claimant, an inmate, filed an action alleging that personnel at Clinton Correctional Facility (Clinton) discontinued certain medical treatments for a two week period in January 2005, in retaliation for claimant filing a grievance (first and second causes of action). Claimant suffers from hepatitis C and was receiving a course of viral therapy. Viral therapy will only be continued, however, if a patient's viral loads decline at certain specified rates. Claimant alleges that as a result of his interruption in treatment, claimant did not reach the desired levels and, therefore, his viral therapy was discontinued. Claimant further alleges that he was not provided adequate winter clothing to participate in outdoor recreation from June 2003 through May 2005 (third and fourth causes of action).

In support of his motion, claimant seeks leave to reargue that part of the Court's Decision and Order regarding his medical malpractice causes of action. He argues that the Court misapplied the doctrine of continuous treatment and, therefore, the limitations period should be tolled and his claim for medical malpractice deemed timely. Further, claimant seeks to renew his argument concerning his claims regarding his lack of winter clothing. He argues that new facts demonstrate that he requested clothing when he first arrived at Clinton.

It is well settled that to establish reargument is warranted, a claimant must establish that "the court overlooked or misapprehended the facts and/or the law" in arriving at its prior decision (Loris v S & W Realty Corp., 16 AD3d 729, 730 [3d Dept 2005]). Next, a motion seeking leave to renew "shall be based upon new facts not offered on the prior motion that would change the prior determination...and...shall contain reasonable justification for the failure to present such facts on the prior motion" (CPLR 2221[e](2)(3); see Stocklas v Auto Solutions of Glenville, Inc, 9 AD3d 622, 625 [3d Dept 2004, lv appeal, dismissed in part, denied in part

4 NY3d 738, [2004]).

The Court grants reargument as to claimant's medical malpractice causes of action to clarify its prior decision, and adheres to its prior order to dismiss these causes of action. The Court reiterates that a medical malpractice claim accrues for purposes of the Court of Claims Act when the injury is suffered (see Konigsberg v State of New York, 256 AD2d 982, 982-983 [3d Dept 1998] and, thus, it must be brought within 90 days of this date (Court of Claims Act § 10 [3]). Claimant's injury occurred when his treatment was interrupted between January 14, 2005 and January 27, 2005. Ordinarily, claimant would be required to file his claim raising these allegations by April 27, 2005. Claimant argues, however, that since his treatment was continued on January 28, 2005 through April 2005, the doctrine of continuous treatment tolls the limitation period.

The continuous treatment doctrine tolls the Statute of Limitations during a patient's course of treatment with his or her physician (Young v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 91 NY2d 291, 296 [1998]; Casale v Hena, 270 AD2d 680, 682 [3d Dept 2000]. Under the continuous treatment doctrine, the time in which to bring a malpractice action is stayed "when the course of treatment which includes the wrongful acts or omissions has run continuously and is related to the same original condition or complaint." (Borgia v City of New York, 12 NY2d 151,155 [1962]). A continuing diagnosis or misdiagnosis does not itself amount to continuous treatment (see McDermott v Torre, 56 NY2d 399, 406 [1982]). "Rather, the continuous treatment doctrine requires the existence of a relationship of continuing trust and confidence between the patient and physician" (Fox v Glens Falls Hosp., 129 AD2d 955, 956 [3d Dept 1987]).

The claim and claimant's submissions fail to allege the requisite relationship of continuing trust and confidence to invoke the continuing treatment doctrine. Indeed, the submissions indicate the antithesis of a trusting relationship. The claim recites that claimant had previously filed a grievance against the doctor that was responsible for stopping claimant's treatment, and claimant complained to the facility superintendent and the chief medical officer and commissioner for the Department of Corrections, stating that the termination of treatment was for non-medical reasons and for retaliatory and discriminatory animus. These allegations are not demonstrative of a relationship of trust and confidence. Thus, there is no basis to toll the limitations period and these causes of action were properly dismissed.

With respect to claimant's request to renew, the Court denies this request. Based on claimant's allegations, the Court determines that this cause of action accrued during 2003, the first winter that he arrived at Clinton, and that this cause of action is untimely inasmuch as he did not file his claim within 90 days of this time period. The Court declined to view claimant's alleged failure to receive winter clothing as a continuing wrong inasmuch as there was no allegation that claimant requested clothing and was denied. Claimant now states that he did make such request and argues that he did not previously bring this fact to the Court's attention because he did not know that it was important. Claimant also states that he attached proof of his request to the present moving papers.

The Court does not deem claimant's proffered excuse as justifiable as it seems disingenuous to argue that he did not know the importance of this allegation when he was alleging a continuing wrong for failing to provide the warm clothing. Moreover, even if the Court was persuaded by claimant's excuse, his moving papers do not contain any documents supporting his statement that he made a request upon his arrival at Clinton in 2003. Defendant also did not receive such documents (Wagner Affirmation, paragraph 5). As such, renewal is denied.

Accordingly, claimant's motion M-71496 is granted in part and denied in part. It is granted to the extent that the Court grants reargument as to the medical malpractice causes of action and, upon reargument, the causes of action are dismissed. The motion is denied as to renewal.

June 19, 2006
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Notice of Motion filed April 3, 2006;

2. Affidavit of Charles Watson sworn to March 29, 2006;

3. Affirmation of Belinda A. Wagner filed April 13, 2006; Exhibit A;

4. Reply Letter of Charles Watson filed April 21, 2006.