New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LAMAGE v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-045-012, Claim No. 113875, Motion No. M-74433


Synopsis


Claimant’s motion to amend claim to assert a new claim. Denied

Case Information

UID:
2008-045-012
Claimant(s):
EDWIN LAMAGE
Claimant short name:
LAMAGE
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
113875
Motion number(s):
M-74433
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
GINA M. LOPEZ-SUMMA
Claimant’s attorney:
Edwin Lamage, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Joseph F. Romani, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
March 6, 2008
City:
Hauppauge
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers were read and considered by the Court on this Motion: Claimant’s Notice of Motion, Claimant’s Affidavit in Support with annexed Exhibits A - B, Defendant’s Affirmation in Opposition with annexed Exhibits A- B and the filed Claim.

Claimant, Edwin Lamage, a pro se inmate, has brought this motion seeking leave to amend his claim pursuant to CPLR 3025 (b) to include a new, entirely unrelated claim to his previously filed claim. On June 20, 2007, claimant filed his original claim alleging that between December 16, 2006 through March 26, 2007, defendant, the State of New York, through its agents, wrongfully confined him in keeplock at the Southport Correctional Facility. Claimant is seeking monetary damages in the amount of three thousand and thirty dollars based on thirty dollars a day for the one hundred and one days he was wrongfully confined. Claimant alleges in his proposed amended claim that from November 18, 2007 through November 25, 2007 defendant failed to replace the inoperative light bulbs in his cell at the Elmira Correctional Facility. He contends that since he was without any light for that time period he was subjected to mental anguish and suffered an injury to his eyes.

CPLR 3025 (b) provides that “a party may amend his pleading, or supplement it by setting forth additional or subsequent transactions or occurrences, at any time by leave of court or by stipulation of the parties. Leave shall be freely given upon such terms as may be just including the granting of costs and continuances.” Courts are vested with broad discretion in determining whether to grant or deny leave to amend, “provided there is no prejudice to the nonmoving party and the amendment is not plainly lacking in merit” (Matter of Miller v Goord, 1AD3d 647, 648 [3d Dept 2003]).

Defendant argues that the motion should be denied because it is prejudiced by the amended claim which seeks to add completely unrelated allegations that occurred months after those contained in the original claim. Defendant also argues that the proposed amendment is without merit as it does not appear to contain a cognizable cause of action.

In this case, the requested amendment sets forth a new claim entirely unrelated to the claims asserted in the original claim. The original claim, which accrued in March 2007, is for false imprisonment as a result of an alleged improper misbehavior report and an unfair disciplinary procedure. The allegations in the amended claim accrued in November 2007 at a different facility and concern the failure to properly maintain the light bulbs in claimant’s cell.

It is a proper exercise of discretion to deny leave to amend a claim where the proposed cause of action would “impermissibly expand the scope of the original proceeding” (Matter of Miller, supra, at 648; see also Thibeault v Palma, 266 AD2d 616 [3d Dept 1999]; Green v Irwin, 174 AD2d 879 [3d Dept 1991]). In the instant case, the amended claim contains allegations which are not an expansion of those contained within the original claim but instead are entirely distinct claims which are based on an entirely separate set of facts. The allegations in the original and amended claims differ in that they occurred at two different correctional facilities, nine months apart and raise different theories of liability. The claims are not similar in nature, will have no overlapping discovery and will involve none of the same witnesses.

Thus, the Court finds that the amended claim would impermissibly expand the scope of the proceeding.

In addition, the Court of Claims Act sets forth specific requirements which must be strictly adhered to before this Court acquires jurisdiction over a new claim (CCA §§ 10, 11). The Court of Appeals has long held that “[b]ecause suits against the State are allowed only by the State’s waiver of sovereign immunity and in derogation of the common law statutory requirements conditioning suit must be strictly construed” (Dreger v New York State Thruway Authority, 81 NY2d 721, 724 [1992]). Accordingly, it is not permissible for claimant to amend his claim to assert entirely new unrelated claims since, in effect, those new claims would have circumvented the requirements and purpose of the Court of Claims Act.

The Court notes that claimant is not without a remedy with respect to his proposed cause of action, as he may be within the time frame to submit a motion for permission to file and serve a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 10(6).

Therefore, based upon the forgoing reasons, claimant’s motion for leave to amend his claim is denied.


March 6, 2008
Hauppauge, New York

HON. GINA M. LOPEZ-SUMMA
Judge of the Court of Claims