New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HANLEY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-030-513, Claim No. 112289-A, Motion No. M-72705


Synopsis


Inmate claimant’s motion for summary judgment, premised upon purported admissions of fact made by the defendant by its alleged failure to respond to a “Statement of Admissions” denied. Defendant did respond to the Notice to Admit [Civil Practice Law and Rules §3123], rejecting same as improperly seeking concession of contested and ultimate issues of fact in the action, as well as admission as to matters that are within exclusive knowledge of claimant.

Case Information

UID:
2007-030-513
Claimant(s):
DAVID S. HANLEY
Claimant short name:
HANLEY
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
112289-A
Motion number(s):
M-72705
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Claimant’s attorney:
DAVID S. HANLEY, PRO SE
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: J. GARDNER RYAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
March 7, 2007
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers were read and considered on Claimant’s motion for summary


judgment:

1,2 Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment; Affidavit in Support of Motion for Summary

Judgment by David S. Hanley, Claimant and Memorandum of Law

  1. Affirmation by J. Gardner Ryan, Assistant Attorney General
4-10 Filed papers: Claim, Answer; Defendant’s combined Demands[1], Claimant’s Reply to Bill of Particulars; “Statement of Admissions” filed June 30, 2006

David S. Hanley alleges in Claim Number 112289-A that Defendant’s agents at Downstate Correctional Facility failed to provide him with adequate medical care when he was suffering from the ill effects of prescribed mental health medication, and suffered injury. Specifically, Claimant alleges that on March 4, 2006 he reported to medical personnel that he was experiencing side effects from medication, but was told that the facility nurse could not help him and that he would need to wait until Monday, March 6, 2006 to see a facility doctor. In its Answer, in addition to general denials the Defendant asserts two affirmative defenses, including the Claimant’s own alleged culpable conduct and a lack of jurisdiction.

Claimant now moves for summary judgment, apparently premised upon purported admissions of fact made by the Defendant by its alleged failure to respond to a “Statement of Admissions” served in or about June 22, 2006 and filed in the Office of the Clerk of the Court of Claims on June 30, 2006. As noted in the Affirmation in response to the present motion, Defendant did respond to the submission by Claimant, albeit untimely, and to the wrong address. [Affirmation by J. Gardner Ryan, Assistant Attorney General, ¶3]. Defendant indicated that the demanded admissions - treated as a Notice to Admit under Civil Practice Law and Rules §3123 - was rejected as it “improperly seeks a concession of contested and ultimate issues of fact in the action . . . [as well as] admission as to matters that are within . . . [claimant’s] exclusive knowledge.” [Affirmation by J. Gardner Ryan, Assistant Attorney General, attachment]. Defendant further argues that in any event, summary judgment is not available on the basis of the purported admissions, although other measures might be available based upon Defendant’s “failure” to respond to the Notice.

Civil Practice Law and Rules §3123 provides in pertinent part that a party may serve upon its opponent “. . . a written request for admission by the latter of the . . . truth of any matters of fact set forth in the request, as to which the party requesting the admission reasonably believes there can be no substantial dispute at the trial and which are within the knowledge of such other party or can be ascertained by him upon reasonable inquiry . . . Each of the matters of which an admission is requested shall be deemed admitted unless . . . the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a sworn statement either denying specifically the matters of which an admission is requested or setting forth in detail the reasons why he cannot truthfully either admit or deny those matters.” The purpose of this discovery device is to eliminate from litigation factual matters that will not be in dispute at trial, that are within the knowledge of the party from whom the information is sought or readily ascertainable by that party. See generally Vasquez v Vengroff, 295 AD2d 421 (2d Dept 2002); Taylor v Blair, 116 AD2d 204 (1st Dept 1986). Requests to admit should not be addressed to ultimate issues in the case in controversy, and should not seek legal conclusions, such as, for example that an entry onto property was trespass [See e.g. Gomez v Long Island Railroad, 201 AD2d 455, 456 (2d Dept 1994)], or a party’s interpretation of the law. Villa v New York City Housing Authority, 107 AD2d 619, 620 (1st Dept 1985). Assuming the requests are proper, then, the party to whom they are addressed must deny them, or explain why they cannot respond in a sworn statement, or else the matters are deemed admitted.

In terms of any sanction associated with an alleged failure to respond adequately to a Notice to Admit, the statute provides that upon a failure to admit the requested information, and subsequent proof of the fact in issue at trial, the party seeking the admission may move for an order requiring payment of any expenses associated with establishing the fact in issue. See Civil Practice Law and Rules §3123(c). There is no provision that a party move to have a matter deemed admitted, although a timely summary judgment motion[2] may at times be appropriate. See Kowalski v Knox, 293 AD2d 892 (3d Dept 2002).

This however, is not an appropriate time for application for summary judgment. Most significantly, and as noted by the Assistant Attorney General, the “Statement of Admissions” submitted to Defendant by Claimant is “palpably improper as it seeks to resolve contested, subjective and ultimate issues of fact.”[Affirmation by J. Gardner Ryan, ¶6]. The Statement of Admissions is a series of twenty-six (26) pronouncements by Claimant starting with “Admit that you owe claimant a duty of care” and ending with “Admit that all the above Admissions are true and correct to the best of your knowledge.” [See Statement of Admissions filed June 30, 2006]. These are an improper attempt to use this device to resolve ultimate issues, such as whether defendant breached its duty of care to claimant. See Sagiv v Gamache, 26 AD3d 368 (2d Dept 2006).

Claimant’s motion is in all respects denied as there are triable issues of fact requiring a plenary trial.

March 7, 2007
White Plains, New York

HON. THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]. Demand for Bill of Particulars, Demand for Names of Witnesses and Discovery and Inspection, and Medical Demand, all filed April 20, 2006.

[2].Civil Practice Law and Rules §3212(b) provides in pertinent part: . . . A motion for summary judgment shall be supported by affidavit, by a copy of the pleadings and by other available proof, such as depositions and written admissions. The affidavit shall be by a person having knowledge of the facts; it shall recite all the material facts; and it shall show that there is no defense to the cause of action or that the cause of action or defense has no merit. The motion shall be granted if, upon all the papers and proof submitted, the cause of action or defense shall be established sufficiently to warrant the court as a matter of law in directing judgment in favor of any party . . . [t]he motion shall be denied if any party shall show facts sufficient to require a trial of any issue of fact. If it shall appear that any party other than the moving party is entitled to a summary judgment, the court may grant such judgment without the necessity of a cross-motion.