New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

KNIGHT v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-016-046, Claim No. 113906, Motion Nos. M-73891, M-73907


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):
M-73891, M-73907
Cross-motion number(s):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant’s attorney:
Hugh Knight, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Roberto Barbosa, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
October 23, 2007
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


In motion no. M-73891, claimant Hugh Knight moves for an order striking the State’s answer. In motion no. M-73907, Mr. Knight moves for an order reducing his filing fee, permitting him to proceed as a poor person and appointing him an attorney. In the underlying claim, it is alleged that because of defendant’s negligence, items of claimant’s personal property were lost or damaged during a February 21, 2007 search of claimant’s cell at Sullivan Correctional Facility. As to those portions of the State’s answer responding to the numbered paragraphs of the claim, claimant apparently seeks to have them stricken solely on the ground that he disagrees with the responses. Such is not a valid reason for striking an answer. As to the State’s affirmative defenses, they are not dispositive of a claim, and like the allegations in the claim itself, are merely assertions made by a party. Striking affirmative defenses is generally not warranted in the absence of a showing of prejudice by the claimant. See, e.g., 5 Weinstein-Korn-Miller, NY Civ Prac ¶3018.14 at 30-432.

In this case, however, the State’s fourth and fifth affirmative defenses have jurisdictional implications and are thus appropriate to address. In its fourth affirmative defense, the State asserts that claimant failed to file his claim with the Court. Knight did in fact file his claim and the State has withdrawn such defense. In its fifth affirmative defense, the State asserts that claimant failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by §10.9 of the Court of Claims Act. In its opposition papers on motion no. M-73891, the State does not dispute claimant’s assertion that he filed a facility claim, which was denied, as was his subsequent appeal thereof.

As to motion no. M-73907, it should be noted that claimant previously made an application for a reduction of his filing fee. Such application was denied in a July 18, 2007 Order of Presiding Judge Richard E. Sise.

With regard to poor person status, there are no applicable provisions in the Court of Claims Act, and thus the Civil Practice Law and Rules govern. See Court of Claims Act §9, subdivision 9; Wilson v State of New York, 101 Misc 2d 924, 925, 422 NYS2d 347, 349 (Ct Cl 1979). Poor person status is authorized under CPLR 1101, which addresses, among other things, filing fees. Aside from the filing fee, there are no other fees in the Court of Claims and in fact, section 27 of the Court of Claims Act prohibits certain costs, fees and disbursements. Nevertheless, payment of a particular item of expense as the need arises may be available at the proper time upon a showing of sufficient cause. Mapp v State of New York, 69 AD2d 911, 415 NYS2d 278 (3d Dept 1979); Wilson, supra. Because no such showing has been made by claimant at this time, his motion for poor person status must be denied.

Finally, as to claimant’s request for the assignment of counsel, such is generally not available for civil cases. See Matter of Smiley, 36 NY2d 433, 369 NYS2d 87 (1975).

In view of the foregoing, having reviewed the submissions[1], IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-73891 be granted to the extent that the State’s fourth and fifth affirmative defenses be deemed stricken and such motion shall otherwise be denied. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that motion no. M-73907 be denied.

October 23, 2007
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]The following were reviewed: claimant’s notice of motion no. M-73891 with supporting affidavit and undesignated exhibits; defendant’s affirmation in opposition to motion no. M-73891 with exhibit A; claimant’s affidavit in support of motion no. M-73907 and defendant’s affirmation in opposition to motion no. M-73907.