New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BENNETT v. N.Y.S. DIVISION OF PAROLE, # 2021-038-512, Claim No. 135509, Motion No. M-96265

Synopsis

Defendant's pre-answer motion to dismiss the claim on the grounds that it failed to comply with the jurisdictional pleading requirements of Court of Claims 11 (b) granted. Pleading was manifestly non-compliant with Court of Claims Act 11 (b) as it was bereft of any factual allegations as to the nature of defendant's liability, and it omitted the time, precise place and items of damages or injuries sustained.

Case information

UID: 2021-038-512
Claimant(s): ANTONIO BENNETT a/k/a ANTHONY WILLIAMS
Claimant short name: BENNETT
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): N.Y.S. DIVISION OF PAROLE
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 135509
Motion number(s): M-96265
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: W. BROOKS DeBOW
Claimant's attorney: No Appearance
Defendant's attorney: LETITIA JAMES, Attorney General
of the State of New York
By: Glenn C. King, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: March 2, 2021
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, an individual formerly incarcerated in a State correctional facility, filed this claim alleging various causes of action that arose at Downstate Correctional Facility (CF) on July 16, 2018. Defendant makes this pre-answer motion to dismiss the claim for lack of jurisdiction. Claimant has not responded to the motion, which will be granted on default.

The claim alleges causes of action sounding in wrongful confinement, breach of contract, negligence, and "appropriation(s)" that accrued at Downstate CF on July 16, 2018 (see Claim No. 135509, 2-4). The claim contains no factual allegations elaborating on those causes of action and it seeks $40 million in damages.

Defendant now makes this pre-answer motion to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the claim fails to comply with the jurisdictional pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act 11 (b). Specifically, defendant argues that the claim "is written in a disjointed and confusing fashion, consisting entirely of random words, definitions and statements that are confusing, incomplete and unintelligible (King Affirmation, 8). Defendant further argues that the claim "fails to include any factual allegations" in support of its causes of action, that "[d]espite its length, the wholly unspecified claim is anything but clear as to the precise nature of the allegations against the State of New York," and that "[w]ithout any factual support or specifics relating to claimant's blanket allegations, it is impossible to decipher a valid cause of action" (id., 9-10). As noted above, claimant has not responded to the motion, which will be granted for the reasons that follow.

The subject matter jurisdictional pleading requirements of the Court of Claims Act requires, among other things, that "[t]he 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" (Court of Claims Act 11 [b]). The pleading must set forth sufficient facts to satisfy each of the pleading requirements set forth in Court of Claims Act 11 (b) (see Kolnacki v State of New York, 8 NY3d 277, 280-281 [2007], rearg denied 8 NY3d 994 [2007]), and the failure to do so is a fatal defect in subject matter jurisdiction requiring dismissal of the claim (see Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201, 209 [2003]; see also Kolnacki, 8 NY3d at 281). The purpose of the pleading requirements of Court of Claims Act 11 (b) is "to enable the State . . . to investigate the claim[s] promptly and to ascertain its liability under the circumstances" (Lepkowski, 1 NY3d at 207 [internal quotation marks omitted]). "Although absolute exactness is not required, the claim must provide a sufficiently detailed description of the particulars of the claim . . . [and] defendant is not required to ferret out or assemble information that section 11 (b) obligates the claimant to allege" (Morra v State of New York, 107 AD3d 1115, 1115-1116 [3d Dept 2013] [internal quotations and citations omitted]).

Even when given the liberal review accorded to submissions of pro se litigants (see Ali v State of New York, UID No. 2006-028-516 [Ct Cl, Sise, P.J., Feb. 7, 2006]), this pleading is manifestly non-compliant with Court of Claims Act 11 (b). As noted above, this rambling and conclusory claim is bereft of any factual allegations as to the nature of defendant's liability that would enable defendant to investigate the claim and ascertain its liability. Moreover, other than alleging that the claim accrued on July 16, 2018, the claim completely omits the time of the alleged actions of defendant's agents. Although the claim alleges that the alleged act(s) took place at Downstate CF, it fails to identify the precise location within that facility to permit defendant to investigate the claim. Lastly, the claim completely fails to identify any items of damage or injuries sustained. In sum, the claim wholly and completely fails to satisfy Court of Claims Act 11 (b), and it must be dismissed.

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that defendant's motion number M-96265 is GRANTED, and claim number 135509 is hereby DISMISSED.

March 2, 2021

Saratoga Springs, New York

W. BROOKS DeBOW

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers considered:

1. Claim No. 135509, filed October 23, 2020;

2. Notice of Motion to Dismiss, dated November 19, 2020;

3. Affirmation of Glenn C. King, AAG, in Support of Motion to Dismiss, dated November 19, 2020, with Exhibit A;

4. Affidavit of Service of Theresa MacPhail, sworn to November 19, 2020.