New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
HIZBULLAH-ANKHAMON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2021-015-025, Claim No. 133934, Motion No. M-96234, Cross-Motion No. CM-96288

Synopsis

Pro se claimant's motion for summary judgment was denied because the motion was unsupported by the pleadings or evidence necessary to establish a prima facie case. Defendant's cross motion was granted to the limited extent of dismissing any constitutional claims.

Case information

UID: 2021-015-025
Claimant(s): QABAIL HIZBULLAH-ANKHAMON
Claimant short name: HIZBULLAH-ANKHAMON
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 133934
Motion number(s): M-96234
Cross-motion number(s): CM-96288
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: Qabail Hizbullah-Ankhamon, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Letitia James, Attorney General
By: Glenn C. King, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 19, 2021
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant moves for summary judgment in his favor on his causes of action alleging the loss of certain personal property and exposure to unsafe conditions related to a "Purge-Vent/Exhaust System" at Wende Correctional Facility (Wende) (Claim, 19). Defendant opposes the motion and moves for partial summary judgment dismissing the claim to the extent it alleges civil rights causes of action over which this Court lacks jurisdiction.

Claimant, an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), alleges his television was lost or misplaced during the course of his transfer between Great Meadow Correctional Facility and Wende. In addition to seeking recovery of the value of the T.V., claimant seeks damages for the discomfort he experienced in being exposed to cold and a bio-hazard dust emanating from a defective purge-vent/exhaust system.

A party moving for summary judgment "bears the heavy burden of establishing 'a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of any material issues of fact' " (Deleon v New York City Sanitation Dept., 25 NY3d 1102, 1106 [2015], quoting Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320, 324 [1986]; see also Vega v Restani Constr. Corp., 18 NY3d 499, 503 [2012]; see also CPLR 3212 [b]). In this regard, CPLR 3212 [b] specifically requires that a motion for summary judgment be supported "by a copy of the pleadings and by other available proof, such as depositions and written admissions" and that "[t]he motion shall be granted if, upon all the papers and proof submitted, the cause of action or defense shall be established sufficiently to warrant the court as a matter of law in directing judgment in favor of any party." Only where the movant has made this showing, does the burden shift to the opposing party "to produce evidentiary proof in admissible form sufficient to establish the existence of material issues of fact which require a trial of the action" (Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320, 324 [1986]).

Here, claimant failed to meet his burden of establishing his prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law. Initially, claimant failed to support his motion with a copy of the pleadings and his motion is subject to denial on this basis alone. Moreover, with respect to his bailment cause of action, claimant failed to establish that he delivered his property to DOCCS with the expectation that it would be returned, that it was not returned, and the value thereof (see 7 NYCRR Part 1700; Foulke v New York Consol. R.R. Co., 228 NY 269 [1920]). Regarding the alleged black-dust hazard, no proof, expert or otherwise, was offered to demonstrate that claimant became ill as a result of the alleged hazard. Since claimant failed to satisfy his initial burden, the burden never shifted to defendant to establish the existence of material issues of fact.

Turning to defendant's cross motion, the Court agrees that to the extent the claim may be read to allege violations of a constitutional right under either the Federal or State Constitution, the claim lacks merit. Claims alleging violations of the Federal Constitution may not be asserted against the State in the Court of Claims and a cause of action for a violation of the State Constitution may not stand where alternative remedies are available, as they are here (see Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d 78, 83-84 [2001]; Brown v State of New York, 89 NY2d 172 [1996]; Jones v State of New York, 171 AD3d 1362 [3d Dept 2019], appeal dismissed 33 NY3d 1056 [2019]).

Accordingly, claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied and defendant's cross motion for partial summary judgment is granted to the extent that those portions of the claim which may be read to allege causes of action arising from violations of the Federal and State Constitutions are dismissed, and is otherwise denied.

February 19, 2021

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

M-96234

  1. Notice of motion dated October 28, 2020;
  2. Affidavit in support sworn to October 28, 2020;
  3. Memorandum of Law dated October 22, 2020, with Exhibits A-O.

CM-92688

  1. Notice of motion dated December 16, 2020;
  2. Affirmation dated December 16, 2020, with Exhibits A-E.