New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
GUNN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2020-059-003, Claim No. None , Motion No. M-94798

Synopsis

Case information

UID: 2020-059-003
Claimant(s): DARRELL GUNN
Claimant short name: GUNN
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): None
Motion number(s): M-94798
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: MAUREEN T. LICCIONE
Claimant's attorney: Darrell Gunn, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: No Appearance
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: January 27, 2020
City: Hauppauge
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Darrell Gunn ("Movant"), an inmate proceeding pro se, moves for leave to file a late claim pursuant to Court of Claims Act (CCA) 10 (6).

The proposed claim asserts a violation of movant's guarantee of equal protection under the New York State Constitution, in that "prison guards Santoro and Conforti, Sergeant refused to follow D.O.C.C.S. Departmental Directive #4911 instead they make up their own rules." It also refers vaguely and briefly to racial discrimination and an allegation that claimant was falsely accused of "making a weapon of a bowl." No further details regarding the underlying incident, which is alleged to have accrued on July 28, 2016, are provided. The proposed claim asserts that this alleged deprivation of movant's civil right caused "hardships and mental anguish."

Preliminarily, any motion for late claim relief must be filed within the time allowed by law for the action to be brought in another court (see CCA 10 [6]). A claim sounding in tort for alleged violation of a state constitutional right is subject to a three-year statute of limitations under CPLR 214 (5) (see Weimer v Lake, 268 AD2d 741, 742 [2000], lv denied 95 NY2d 755 [2000]; Brown v State of New York, 250 AD2d 314, 318 [3d Dept 1998]). Thus, movant's proposed claim for violation of his right to equal protection is subject to a three-year statute of limitation. However, since his proposed claim states that the cause of action accrued on July 28, 2016 more than three years prior to the filing of this motion on October 25, 2019, the motion must be denied.

Even assuming, arguendo, that movant's motion for late claim relief had been timely, it would nevertheless have been denied for failure to meet the strict pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act 11 (b). The Court of Appeals has repeatedly 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" (Matter of New York City Asbestos Litig., 24 NY3d 275 [2014], citing Kolnacki v State of New York, 8 NY3d 277 [2007]). Court of Claims Act 11 (b) provides that the "claim shall state 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. "The purpose behind the specificity of pleading required by CCA 11(b) is "to enable the State . . . to investigate the claim[s] promptly and to ascertain its liability under the circumstances" (Lepowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201 [2003], quoting Heisler v State of New York, 78 AD2d 767 [4th Dept 1980]). Further, "the State is not required to go beyond a claim or notice of intention in order to investigate an occurrence or ascertain information which should be provided pursuant to Court of Claims Act 11" (Hargrove v State of New York, 138 AD3d 777 [2d Dept 2016], citation omitted). Any failure to comply with the strict pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act 11(b) is "a jurisdictional defect compelling the dismissal of the claim" (Welch v State of New York, 286 AD2d 496 [2d Dept 2001]).

Here, the proposed claim alleges that two corrections officers refused to follow a directive regarding packages but provides no further detail as to now that directive was violated. In sum, it fails to allege a specific act or omission for which the State could be held liable and the Court of Claims Act "does not require the State to ferret out or assemble information that section 11 (b) obligates the claimant to allege" (Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201 [2003]).

For the foregoing reasons, movant's motion to file a late claim is denied.

Papers Considered:

1. Movant's Motion to File a Late Claim dated October 12, 2019, with exhibits.

January 27, 2020

Hauppauge , New York

MAUREEN T. LICCIONE

Judge of the Court of Claims