New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PHILLIPS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-041-048, Claim No. 115519, Motion No. M-75616


Claim is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction where claim seeks judicial review of an administrative decision of the correctional facility at which claimant is incarcerated.

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:
New York State Attorney GeneralBy: Glenn C. King, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 17, 2008

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant is an inmate at Clinton Correctional Facility (Clinton). Defendant moves to dismiss the claim which alleges that defendant “[k]nowingly and intentionally with deliberate indifference and wanton malicious intent to punish claimant, imposed non contact visits for no other reason but to violate claimants rights.” Attached to the claim is the “Interdepartmental Memorandum” of Clinton Superintendent Dale Artus, which provides as follows:
“Pursuant to the authority outlined in Title 7 NYCRR, Section 302.2(i)(1)(ii) and Directive 4933 (Special Housing Units), limitation may be imposed on conditions of visitation for inmates confined in Special Housing Units.

You are being placed on non-contact visiting due to the potential threat you pose to staff, inmates and the general public. This is based on your well documented pattern of criminal behavior and the particular threats these crimes and surrounding information pose.

Effective this date, all of your visits will be non-contact. This is not intended to be punishment, but rather a precautionary limitation to maintain the safety and good order of the facility.

You may submit a letter to me requesting a review of your non-contact visiting status every 30 days.”
Defendant asserts in its motion papers that “the Court does not have jurisdiction to hear the claim as it should properly be brought as an Article 78 proceeding in Supreme Court.”

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 the review of an administrative action), 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 [1988]).

In City of New York v State of New York, 46 AD3d 1168, 1169-1170 [3d Dept 2007]), the court explains that:
“Two inquiries must be made to determine if the Court of Claims has subject matter jurisdiction. As that court has ‘no jurisdiction to grant strictly equitable relief’ (Psaty v Duryea, 306 NY 413, 416 [1954]), but may grant incidental equitable relief so long as the primary claim seeks to recover money damages in appropriation, contract or tort cases (see Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home v State of New York, 241 AD2d 670, 671 [1997]), ‘the threshold question is “[w]hether the essential nature of the claim is to recover money, or whether the monetary relief is incidental to the primary claim”’ (Madura v State of New York, 12 AD3d 759, 760 [2004], lv denied 4 NY3d 704 [2005], quoting Matter of Gross v Perales, 72 NY2d 231, 236 [1988]). The second inquiry, regardless of how a claimant categorizes a claim, is whether the claim would require review of an administrative agency’s determination--which the Court of Claims has no subject matter jurisdiction to entertain (see Hoffman v State of New York, 42 AD3d 641, 642 [2007]), as review of such determinations are properly brought only in Supreme Court in a CPLR article 78 proceeding (see Matter of Scherbyn v Wayne-Finger Lakes Bd. of Coop. Educ. Servs., 77 NY2d 753, 757 [1991]).”
It is apparent that what claimant seeks is judicial review of the administrative determination of the facility superintendent which placed him on non-contact visiting status. In order to award claimant a money judgment, the Court would necessarily have to annul that administrative determination. The appropriate remedy for such a challenge is a CPLR article 78 proceeding (Matter of Cabassa v Goord, 40 AD3d 1281 [3d Dept 2007]; Matter of Salahuddin v Connell, 53 AD3d 898 [3d Dept 2008]).

The defendant’s motion to dismiss is granted. The claim is dismissed.

November 17, 2008
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

  1. Defendant’s Notice of Motion, filed August 20, 2008;
  2. Affirmation of Glenn C. King, dated August 20, 2008;
  3. Claim;
  4. Affirmation of Ralph Buck Phillips, sworn to August 26, 2008, and annexed exhibits.