New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
ROUNDTREE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2021-053-508, Claim No. 134004, Motion No. M-96221

Synopsis

Inmate claimant's motion for summary judgment on a claim alleging the loss of personal property is denied as questions of fact exist.

Case information

UID: 2021-053-508
Claimant(s): JUEL ROUNTREE
Claimant short name: ROUNDTREE
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 134004
Motion number(s): M-96221
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: J. DAVID SAMPSON
Claimant's attorney: JUEL ROUNDTREE, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. LETITIA JAMES
New York State Attorney General
BY: Thomas G. Ramsay, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 25, 2021
City: Buffalo
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant Juel Roundtree, an inmate proceeding pro se, filed claim no. 134004 seeking to recover for the loss of personal property which allegedly occurred while he was incarcerated.(1) Claimant moves for summary judgment. Defendant opposes the motion.

Summary judgment is a drastic remedy which should only be granted when the moving party establishes that there are no triable issues of fact (Vega v Restani Constr. Corp., 18 NY3d 499 [2002]). The proponent of such a motion must present facts in evidentiary form sufficient to establish its right to judgment as a matter of law (Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320 [1986]; Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 NY2d 557 [1980]). If the proponent of the motion fails to make a prima facie showing of entitlement to summary judgment, the motion must be denied regardless of the sufficiency of the opposing papers (Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., supra at 324). In deciding a summary judgment motion, the Court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party (Black v Kohl's Dept. Stores, Inc., 80 AD3d 958 [3d Dept 2011]).

The claimant's motion papers consist of a cover letter and an affidavit sworn to January 29, 2020. Pursuant to CPLR 3212 (b), a motion for summary judgment "shall be supported by an affidavit, by a copy of the pleadings and by other available proof." Claimant's failure to support his motion with copies of the pleadings require denial of the motion, regardless of the merits of the motion (D.J. Enters. of WNY v Benderson, 294 AD2d 825 [4th Dept 2002], citing CPLR 3212 (b) and Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v Piper, 286 AD2d 903 [4th Dept 2001]). Although the Court will provide some deference to procedural formalities in a claim involving a pro se claimant, statutory requirements and decisional case law cannot simply be overlooked. Accordingly, claimant's motion for summary judgment must be denied.

Even if claimant had included copies of the pleadings, the Court would have reached the same conclusion on the merits. Attached to claimant's claim as filed are several Inmate Claim Forms dated between February 22, 2019 and July 1, 2019 for property allegedly missing from Gowanda, Marcy and Orleans Correctional Facilities. Some of the same missing items are listed on more than one of these forms and the reasons for denying these administrative claims vary from failure to substantiate the value of the claim, to evidence that indicates the facility is not at fault, and to property not at facility. Innumerable questions of fact exist as to what items of personal property allegedly are missing or were destroyed, their value, the place and circumstances surrounding their loss and whether claimant exhausted his administrative remedies. These various questions of fact require a trial of this claim.

Accordingly, claimant's motion no. M-96221 for summary judgment is denied. A trial of claim no. 134004 will be scheduled in due course.

February 25, 2021

Buffalo, New York

J. DAVID SAMPSON

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following were read and considered by the Court:

1. Cover letter and affidavit of Juel Roundtree sworn to January 29, 2020, with annexed Exhibits 1-6;

2. Opposing affirmation of Assistant Attorney General Thomas G. Ramsay dated January 5, 2021; and

3. Unverified statement of Juel Roundtree dated January 14, 2021.


1. According to claimant's cover letter attached to his motion papers, claimant is moving for summary judgment with respect to claim no. 134004 and claim no. 134417. This decision will address only the motion relating to claim no. 134004. Any motions relating to claim no. 134417 will be addressed separately by the Hon. Catherine Leahy-Scott to whom claim no. 134417 has been assigned.