New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
STEGEMAN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2021-028-508, Claim No. 134347, Motion No. M-96283

Synopsis

Bailment claim is jurisdictionally defective as it does not comply with the pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act § 11(b). Claimant's attempt to cure defect with unauthorized amended claim was a nullity. Defendant's unopposed motion for dismissal of the claim is granted.

Case information

UID: 2021-028-508
Claimant(s): NICHOLAS STEGEMAN
Claimant short name: STEGEMAN
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 134347
Motion number(s): M-96283
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: RICHARD E. SISE
Claimant's attorney: NICHOLAS STEGEMAN, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney: HON. LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: Ray A. Kyles
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: March 9, 2021
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The following papers, numbered 1 through 3, were read on motion by Defendant for dismissal of the claim:

Papers Numbered:

1) Defendant's Notice of Motion filed December 17, 2020;

2) Affirmation of Ray A. Kyles, Esq., dated December 16, 2020, with attached exhibits;

3) Filed Documents: Claim, Answer, and Amended Claim.

This is Defendant's motion seeking dismissal of the claim as jurisdictionally defective. In his claim filed on January 24, 2020, Mr. Stegeman, a person in Defendant's custody at a State correctional facility, alleges that Defendant is responsible for the loss of unspecified personal property. The loss occurred during Claimant's transfer from Auburn Correctional Facility to Five Points Correctional Facility on May 10, 2019.

On March 6, 2020, Defendant filed and served a verified answer. The sixth affirmative defense contained in Defendant's verified answer asserts:

"This Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claim and personal jurisdiction over the defendant, the State of New York, as the claim fails to comply with Section 11 of the Court of Claims Act and Section 206.6(b) of the Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims by failing to include the items of damage or injury claimed."

Defendant relies on this affirmative defense in support of its motion to dismiss. Court of Claims Act§11(b) requires that a claim:

"state the time when and place where such claim arose, the nature of same, the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained and, except in an action to recover damages for personal injury, medical, dental or podiatric malpractice or wrongful death, the total sum claimed."

These are substantive jurisdictional requirements (Lepkowski v State 1NY3d 201[2003]) and failure to satisfy any one of them will result in dismissal. (Kolnacki v. State of New York, 8 NY3d 277 [2007]).

As Defendant further points out, the claim does not identify the property that was allegedly lost, and the underlying administrative claim was not attached as an exhibit. Accordingly, Defendant argues that the claim fails to comply with Court of Claims Act §11(b) because it does not "identify the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained". Whether or not this failure was prejudicial to Defendant, or whether Defendant could have looked into Claimant's administrative filings to determine the nature and value of what was lost is not relevant.

"It is axiomatic that the sufficiency of a claim rests solely upon the assertions contained therein, and defendant is not required to go beyond the claim in order to investigate an occurrence or ascertain information that should have been provided pursuant to Court of Claims Act §11...(citation omitted)."

(Lepkowski v State, 302 AD2d 765, 766, aff'd, 1NY3d 201[2003]).

Claimant has offered no opposition to Defendant's motion, and multiple courts have determined that the failure to identify the property allegedly lost is a clear violation of Court of Claims Act § 11(b). (see, Maynard v State of New York, UID No. 2019-038-615 [Ct Cl, DeBow, J., Dec. 23, 2019]; Murray v State of New York, UID No. 2017-041-079 [Ct Cl, Milano, J., Nov. 13, 2017]). I note, however, that on November 9, 2020, approximately 8 months after receipt of Defendant's verified answer, Claimant filed and served an amended claim which purports to cure the jurisdictional defects asserted by Defendant in the verified answer. The amended claim sets forth the items that were allegedly lost and lists their asserted values.

However, Mr. Stegeman's filing and service of the amended claim more than 8 months after his receipt of Defendant's answer "was a nullity because he served these papers without leave of court or a stipulation of the parties in accordance with CPLR 3025 (b)" (Nikolic v. Fed'n Employment & Guidance Serv., Inc., 18 A.D.3d 522, 524, [2d Dept 2005] , (citing Peterkin v City of New York, 293 AD2d 244 [2d Dept 2002]; Camacho v New York City Tr. Auth., 115 AD2d 691 [2d Dept 1985]).

Moreover, as Defendant correctly asserts, Claimant's failure to satisfy the jurisdictional requirements of Court of Claims Act § 11(b) cannot be cured by amendment. (See, Kolnacki v. State of New York, 8 NY3d 277 [2007]; Hogan v. State of New York, 59 AD3d 754 [3rd Dept. 2009]).

Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED, that Defendant's motion is granted. Claim 134347 is hereby dismissed in its entirety.

March 9, 2021

Albany, New York

RICHARD E. SISE

Judge of the Court of Claims