New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
McRAE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2010-009-040, Claim No. 118182, Motion No. M-78277


Defendant's motion to dismiss this claim based upon a failure to state a cause of action was denied.

Case information

UID: 2010-009-040
Claimant(s): JAMEL McRAE
Claimant short name: McRAE
Footnote (claimant name) :
Footnote (defendant name) : The Court, sua sponte, has amended the caption to reflect the State of New York as the only proper defendant before this Court.
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 118182
Motion number(s): M-78277
Cross-motion number(s):
Claimant's attorney: ESTRIN, BENN & LANE, LLC
BY: Artie Venti, Esq.,
Of Counsel.
Defendant's attorney: HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO
Attorney General
BY: Bonnie G. Levy, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney General
Of Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: December 13, 2010
City: Syracuse
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)


Defendant has brought this motion seeking an order dismissing the claim for failure to state a cause of action.

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:

Notice of Motion; Affirmation in Support, with Exhibit 1,2

Affirmation in Opposition, with Exhibits 3

In his filed claim, claimant seeks damages for personal injuries suffered by him when he was allegedly assaulted by other inmates at Five Points Correctional Facility on December 26, 2009. Claimant alleges that defendant is liable by failing to control those other inmates and failing to provide adequate security to prevent the assault, with prior knowledge that those other inmates were dangerous and violent.

Defendant now seeks to dismiss this claim, contending that these allegations are too vague and generalized, and that they are not sufficient to satisfy the pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act 11 (b). This provision requires that a claim set forth "the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, [and] the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained."

When evaluating a claim against an assertion that it fails to comply with these requirements of 11 (b), the guiding principle is always whether the claim provides sufficient information to allow for a prompt investigation by the defendant aimed at ascertaining its potential liability (Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201; Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d 767). It is therefore incumbent upon the defendant to demonstrate that it was unable to conduct an investigation based upon the information that was provided (Cannon v State of New York, 163 Misc 2d 623; Partridge v State of New York, Ct Cl, Patti, J., Claim No. 90710, Motion No. M-62089; Kerr v State of New York, Ct Cl, Read, P.J., Claim No. 105574, Motion No. M-65237; Turpin v State of New York, Ct Cl, Read P.J., Claim No. 92485, Motion No. M-58816).

While it is true that the defendant need not go beyond the contents of a claim in order to obtain sufficient information to conduct its investigation, it is equally true that "the substantive information in a claim or notice of intention does not have to provide all of the information the State may need in order to assess its potential liability. Rather, there must be enough specific details about the time, location, and nature of the claim to enable the State to easily conduct an investigation and, through such investigation, assess its risk of being found liable (Gonzalez v State of New York, Ct Cl, Sise, P.J., Claim No. 104279, Motion Nos. M-70394, CM-70457, April 12, 2006 [UID No. 2006-028-542]).(2)

In this particular claim, claimant has set forth the specific date and location of this inmate assault, as well as alleging that the defendant was negligent in failing to adequately protect claimant, an inmate in its custody. The Court therefore finds that claimant has provided sufficient information in his claim to enable the State to conduct a prompt investigation, the "guiding principle" of any  11 (b) analysis (Lepkowski v State of New York, supra at 207). The Court therefore finds that claimant has satisfied the specificity requirements of 11 (b).

Based on the foregoing, therefore, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-78277 is hereby DENIED.

December 13, 2010

Syracuse, New York


Judge of the Court of Claims

2. Unpublished decisions and selected orders of the Court of Claims are available via the Internet at