In Kolnacki v State of New York (8 NY3d 277 ), the Court of
Appeals held that the Court of Claims lacks jurisdiction over a claim which
fails to state "the total sum claimed," one of the requirements of section 11
(b). A claim against the State is permissible only as a result of the
State’s waiver of sovereign immunity and the statutory requirements
conditioning suit must therefore be strictly construed ( Kolnacki, 8 NY3d
at 280). The Court noted that the requirements of section 11 (b) are
"substantive conditions upon the State’s waiver of sovereign immunity"
(citing Lepkowski v State of New York 1 NY3d 201, 207 ) and that
the failure to satisfy any of the conditions is a jurisdictional defect
(Kolnacki, 8 NY3d at 280-281). The Kolnacki decision stresses that
"nothing less than strict compliance with the jurisdictional requirements of the
Court of Claims Act is necessary" (Kolnacki, 8 NY3d at 281).
The defendant’s cross-motion alleges that the claim fails to set forth
the “total sum claimed” as required by section 11 (b) and must be
dismissed pursuant to Kolnacki. The claim does, in fact, state a demand
for "Monetary damages in the Amount of $5,000,000.25 for acts and/or omissions
of the N.Y.S.D.O.C.S."
Nonetheless, the Court’s review of the claim for the purpose of assessing
jurisdictional issues reveals that the claim fails to set forth the time when
the claim arose and further fails to adequately set forth the nature of the
claim, as the allegations all relate to inmates generally, rather than to the
Defendant’s cross-motion does not raise the claim’s failure to
state the time when the claim arose and the nature of same as a basis for
dismissal although its answer states these grounds as defenses. The
defendant’s choice not to raise these defects in its cross-motion does not
preclude the Court’s consideration of them (see Matter of Fry v
Village of Tarrytown, 89 NY2d 714, 718  in which the court states that
“a court’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction is not waivable, but
‘may be [raised] at any stage of the action, and the court may, ex mero
motu [on its own motion], at any time, when its attention is called to the
facts, refuse to proceed further and dismiss the action’ [Robinson v
Oceanic Steam Nav. Co., 112 NY 315, 324]”).
Dismissal of the claim is compelled since stating the time when the claim
arose, together with stating the nature of the claim, are "substantive
conditions upon the State’s waiver of sovereign immunity"
(Lepkowski, 1 NY3d at 207) and "failure to satisfy any of the conditions
is a jurisdictional defect" (Kolnacki, 8 NY3d at 281).
It should also be noted that claimant essentially challenges the administrative
policies of the Department of Correctional Services. The appropriate remedy is
not a Court of Claims action for money damages but "a CPLR article 78 proceeding
in Supreme Court" (Matter of Rye Psychiatric Hosp. Ctr. v State of New
York, 177 AD2d 834, 835 [3d Dept 1991], lv denied 80 NY2d 751
The Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction and the powers conferred
upon it do not include the authority to provide the type of equitable relief
requested by claimant (Madura v State of New York, 12 AD3d 759, 760 [3d
Dept 2004], lv denied 4 NY3d 704 ). The jurisdiction of the Court
of Claims is invoked where money damages are the essential object of the claim,
unlike an instance where the principal claim is equitable in nature (such as a
challenge to the administrative policies of a state agency), with monetary
relief being incidental to the principal claim (see Harvard Fin.
Servs. v State of New York, 266 AD2d 685, 685 [3d Dept 1999]; Matter of
Gross v Perales, 72 NY2d 231, 236 ).
Finally, the Court lacks jurisdiction over claimant’s federal
constitutional cause of action since "[t]he proper subject of an action pursuant
to 42 USC § 1983 is a State official acting in excess of his or her
authority and is ‘cognizable in the Supreme Court and not in the Court of
Claims’ . . . . The State is not a proper party to such claims because the
State is not a ‘person’ within the meaning of 42 USC § 1983"
(Cavanaugh v Doherty, 243 AD2d 92, 96-97 [3d Dept 1998] quoting
Teddy's Drive In v Cohen, 54 AD2d 898, 900 [2d Dept 1976], affd 47
NY2d 79 ; see Matter of Gable Transp., Inc. v State of New
York, 29 AD3d 1125 [3d Dept 2006]; Lyles v State of New York, 2 AD3d
694 [2d Dept 2003], affd 3 NY3d 396 ; Welch v State of New
York, 286 AD2d 496, 498 [2d Dept 2001]).
In view of the foregoing, the Court need not consider claimant’s motion
to strike defendant’s answer.
For all of the foregoing reasons, the defendant’s cross-motion is granted
and the claim is dismissed.