New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GRIMES v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-044-001, Claim No. 108600


Claimant’s failure to exhaust his administrative remedies, which affirmative defense was properly pleaded with particularity in the answer, is fatal to the claim. Defendant’s motion to dismiss is granted.

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: Geoffrey B. Rossi, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 1, 2006

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Claimant Jemar Grimes, an inmate appearing pro se, alleges that defendant State of New York (“defendant”) negligently lost claimant's property when he was transferred from Elmira Correctional Facility (“Elmira”) to Great Meadow Correctional Facility (“Great Meadow”). Trial of the matter was held at Elmira on October 11, 2006.
In this bailment claim, claimant alleges that his property was packed by Correctional Officer G. Williams at Elmira on August 21, 2003. Claimant received his personal property at Great Meadow on September 26, 2003 and noticed that several items were missing.
Claimant alleges that initially missing were one pair of boots, 25 bottles of Muslim Oils, 200 personal photographs, one clip-on fan, and one quart bottle.
The claim further alleges that some of claimant’s property was returned to him, and that he eventually received “everything” except 200 personal photographs and 25 bottles of Muslim Oil.

As an initial matter, defendant advised the Court that there was a written motion pending to dismiss the claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act §10 (9), on the ground that claimant failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Defendant had preserved that defense by pleading it with particularity in its Answer.
The Court reserved decision on defendant's motion and allowed claimant to present his claim.
Claimant commenced his case by advising the Court that the “wrong claim” was being heard. He indicated that he had simultaneously filed two claims: the one at issue, and another claim which alleged the loss of a television and a pair of boots in addition to the photos and Muslim Oil. He stated that it made no sense to try this claim when the issues would be addressed again in another administrative proceeding or claim before this Court. When asked whether he wanted to discontinue this claim and pursue the other claim, he advised that he had no claim number for the other claim, although he was certain that claim had been filed.
Claimant then proceeded to testify regarding the loss of his television. When asked by the Court to limit his testimony to the items alleged as missing in the claim at hand, claimant indicated he was not aware that he was going to trial on that date.
Claimant stated he had not brought any receipts or other paperwork to document his alleged loss of any of the items. He declined to testify further. Defendant moved to dismiss the claim for claimant's failure to make a prima facie case. The Court reserved on defendant's motion, and defendant rested its case.
Regarding defendant's motion to dismiss, Court of Claims Act § 10 (9) allows an inmate to recover damages for loss of personal property, provided that the inmate has exhausted the administrative remedies established for inmates by the Department of Correctional Services (“DOCS”). DOCS has established a two-tier system for handling bailment claims consisting of an initial review and an appeal (7 NYCRR 1700.3). Both of these separate and distinct steps must have been completed at the time a claim is filed and served in order for a claimant to be deemed to have exhausted his administrative remedies pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 10 (9).
The claim contains an “Inmate Claim Form” which claimant had filed to initiate the required administrative process. His administrative claim was approved on November 5, 2003, and claimant was offered reimbursement in the amount of $5.00. A notice on the Inmate Claim Form clearly stated that claimant was entitled to appeal this initial decision. The form did not indicate that any appeal of the determination had been made. Defendant's motion is based on claimant's failure to appeal the November 5, 2003 determination.
In support of its motion, defendant submitted a Certified Record containing all documents maintained on file by the facility pertaining to claimant's Inmate Claim Form from Great Meadow's legal liaison. Those documents contained the Inmate Claim Form, which again did not reflect that claimant took any appeal from the November 5, 2003 administrative determination. Defendant also submitted an unsigned facsimile page from the Inmate Records Office at Great Meadow stating that no documentation that claimant had appealed the November 5, 2003 determination could be found.
Claimant submitted no opposition in writing to defendant's motion. At trial, claimant indicated that he opposed the motion, but could not articulate any reason for his opposition, and offered no evidence that an appeal had been taken from the determination.
The Court accords no weight to the unsigned fax sheet from the Inmate Records Office indicating that no documentation could be found to indicate that claimant had exhausted his remedies.
However, it is apparent from both the facility's records and claimant's own documents annexed to his claim that claimant did not appeal the administrative determination awarding him $5.00 for the loss of his property. Claimant's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies is fatal to his claim.
Accordingly, defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by Court of Claims Act § 10 (9) is hereby granted, and Claim No. 108600 is dismissed in its entirety. Any and all motions on which the Court may have previously reserved or which were not previously determined, are hereby denied.

November 1, 2006
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]. Claim, ¶ 5.
[2]. Id.
[3]. Id.
[4].Answer, ¶¶ 5-7.
[5]. However, claimant's file did contain the letter from the Court stating that this claim would be proceeding to trial on October 11, 2006.
[6]. McAllister v. State of New York, Ct Cl, Sept. 10, 2001, Corbett, J., Claim No. 103773, Motion No. M-63158 [UID # 2001-005-527].