New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

AMAKER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-045-028, Claim No. 113776, Motion Nos. M-74781, CM-74846


Synopsis


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

Case Information

UID:
2008-045-028
Claimant(s):
ANTHONY D. AMAKER
Claimant short name:
AMAKER
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
113776
Motion number(s):
M-74781
Cross-motion number(s):
CM-74846
Judge:
GINA M. LOPEZ-SUMMA
Claimant’s attorney:
Anthony D. Amaker, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Roberto Barbosa, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
June 23, 2008
City:
Hauppauge
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers were read and considered by the Court on these motions: Claimant’s Motion to Amend Claim, Claimant’s Affidavit in Support with annexed documents, Defendant’s Notice of Cross-Motion, Defendant’s Affirmation in Opposition to Claimant’s Motion and in Support of Defendant’s Cross-Motion, Claimant’s Affidavit in Reply with annexed document, Claimant’s Memorandum of Law, the filed Claim and the filed Answer.

Claimant, Anthony D. Amaker, a pro se inmate, has brought this motion seeking leave to amend his claim. On May 31, 2007, claimant filed his original claim alleging that his personal property was improperly destroyed by defendant, the State of New York, through its agents. Claimant stated that defendant took possession of his personal property during the time he was placed in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) from September 29, 2006 through December 30, 2006 at the Southport Correctional Facility. After claimant was provided with his personal property he discovered that his typewriter was damaged. Claimant then filed his claim seeking damages for either the total cost of the typewriter or for the cost of the repairs to the typewriter.

Claimant is presently seeking to amend his claim in order to assert a new claim which accrued on April 2, 2007 at the Wende Correctional Facility. On that date, claimant contends that the facility received a mailed package addressed to him but that the package was never turned over to him by the employees of the facility.

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, 1 AD3d 647, 648 [3d Dept 2003]).

Defendant argues, inter alia, that the motion should be denied because it is prejudiced by the amended claim which seeks to add completely unrelated allegations that occurred at a different facility months after those contained in the original claim.

It is clear that the requested amendment sets forth a new claim entirely unrelated to the claim asserted in the original claim. The original claim, which accrued in December 2006 at the Southport Correctional Facility, concerns allegations of damage to claimant’s typewriter. The allegations in the amended claim accrued in April 2007 at a different facility and essentially concern the loss of claimant’s mail.

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 claims will not have overlapping discovery and will not involve any 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.

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). However, defendant failed to raise this assertion in its answer as an affirmative defense to the claim as required by CCA §11(c). Moreover, defendant admitted in its answer that the claim was timely filed (see Def. Answer line 1). Consequently, the defense has been waived by defendant.

Therefore, based upon the foregoing reasons, claimant’s motion for leave to amend his claim is denied. Additionally, defendant’s cross-motion to dismiss the claim is denied.


June 23, 2008
Hauppauge, New York

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