New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

COOKS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-045-023, Claim No. 114843, Motion No. M-74679


Defendant’s motion to dismiss inmate bailment claim due to failure to exhaust administrative remedy, motion granted.

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:
John B. Cooks, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Roberto Barbosa, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
August 19, 2008

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


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 §10(9).

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 2007]).

Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, defendant’s motion is granted.

August 19, 2008
Hauppauge, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims