The following papers were read and considered by the Court on this motion:
Defendant’s Notice of Motion, Defendant’s Affirmation in Support
with annexed Exhibits A-C, Claimant’s Letters to the Court dated April 7,
2008 and April 13, 2008 as well as the filed Claim.
Defendant, the State of New York, has brought this motion pursuant to Court of
Claims Act (CCA) § 10(9) seeking an order dismissing the claim upon the
ground that claimant has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.
Claimant, John B. Cooks, a pro se inmate, alleges that he was
originally housed at the Southport Correctional Facility. On August 30, 2007 he
was placed in the Elmira Correctional Facility observation room for ten days.
Claimant was then transferred to the Central New York Psychiatric Center where
he remained until he was transferred to the Great Meadow Correctional Facility
on October 17, 2007. Claimant alleges that he initially had a total of four
“draft bags” which contained his personal property. However, when
he finally received his personal property from the Southport Correctional
Facility on November 30, 2007 there were only two bags containing his personal
property. Thereafter, claimant pursued an administrative remedy at the
facility, by filing an inmate claim form on December 3, 2007, seeking
reimbursement in the amount of $2,498.52 for the various items of personal
property lost. Claimant then filed a second inmate claim form on January 13,
2008, seeking reimbursement for essentially the same items, however in this
claim he requested reimbursement in the amount of $5,876.00. The first claim
form was given a claim number, 040-0154-07, whereas the second claim form was
not given a claim number. Defendant contends that the two claims were treated
as a single facility claim. On January 22, 2008, the claim was administratively
approved for a reimbursement offer of $76.00. The appeal section of the claim
form had not been filled out (Def Ex B).
Defendant argues that since claimant did not appeal the initial review and
approval of his claim, he did not exhaust his administrative remedies prior to
bringing his legal action as required by the Court of Claims Act
Court of Claims Act § 10(9) provides in pertinent part that a claim of any
inmate in the custody of the Department of Correctional Services for the
recovery of damages due to the loss of personal property must be filed and
served within one hundred twenty days after the date on which the inmate
exhausted the administrative remedies established by the Department.
Claimant contends in his letters dated April 7, 2008 and April 13, 2008 to the
court that he has written proof that he exhausted his administrative remedies.
Claimant continues that he had to wait 72 hours before he could receive his
legal documents and personal property from the storage room. On May 5, 2008,
certain papers were sent by claimant to the Clerk’s Office of the New York
State Court of Claims. Those papers were erroneously returned by the
Clerk’s Office to claimant. On May 30, 2008, the Clerk’s Office
sent a letter to claimant explaining the error and requesting that claimant
resubmit those documents which may have been response papers to the current
motion. Accordingly, the return date for the current motion was adjourned from
April 16, 2008 to July 16, 2008. However, the Court notes that to date it has
not received any further correspondence or documentation from the claimant in
support of his position.
Thus, the Court finds that claimant, by not appealing the initial approval of
his personal property claim prior to filing his claim, failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies as required by Court of Claims Act §10(9).
Consequently, the Court is deprived of jurisdiction over the matter and must
dismiss the claim (Williams v State of New York, 38 AD3d 646 [2d Dept
Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, defendant’s motion is