New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2021-054-004, Claim No. 135159, Motion No. M-96052

Synopsis

Motion to dismiss failure to state a cause of action Court of Claims Act 11 (b). Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction and Rockland County is not a proper party defendant.

Case information

UID: 2021-054-004
Claimant(s): NOE LOPEZ SUCHITE
Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 135159
Motion number(s): M-96052
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: WALTER RIVERA
Claimant's attorney: NOE LOPEZ SUCHITE
Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. LETITIA JAMES
Attorney General for the State of New York
By: Dorothy M. Keogh, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 16, 2021
City: White Plains
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The following papers numbered 1-2 were read and considered by the Court on the State's pre-answer motion to dismiss Claim No. 135159:

Notice of Motion, Attorney's Supporting Affirmation and Exhibit..........................1

Claimant's Letter in Opposition to State's Motion to Dismiss...................................2

On August 3, 2020, the office of the attorney general received a copy of Claim No. 135159, which was filed with the Court on August 4, 2020.

The claim alleges that on July 21, 2020 at "Rockland County 1 South main Street Suite 500, New City, New York [sic]" (Ex. A, 3) the following occurred:

"personal injury: time in prision [sic]. don't give me one call in the moment when the problem started. They obligate to eat nasty food. They violate my rights. They hide information. They not give me the copy of the transcript of the judgement. and harassmen of part of immigration [sic]"

(id. at 2).

The State moves to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the claim fails to state a cause of action against the State and does not provide a sufficiently detailed description of the particulars of the claim to enable the State to investigate and promptly ascertain the existence and extent of its liability. In this regard, the State argues that the claim is jurisdictionally defective because it fails to comply with the pleading requirements set forth in Court of Claims Act 11 (b). Specifically, the State argues that the claim fails to assert any conduct or omission that might impose liability on the State. Additionally, the State notes that, while the allegations appear to have occurred in a prison setting, the place of occurrence listed in the claim is an address that is not a prison. Rather, the address in the claim is the address for the Rockland County District Attorney's Office.

Claimant submitted a letter in opposition to the State's motion to dismiss arguing that the claim complies with Court of Claims Act 11 (b). However, claimant's letter indicates that the sum and substance of the allegations of his claim are related to his criminal case in Rockland County and are primarily attributable to employees of Rockland County and not employees of the State. Claimant's opposition, like his claim, fails to specify the acts or omissions that form the basis for the alleged negligence of the State.

Court of Claims Act 11 (b) provides in pertinent part, "[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." The State's waiver of immunity from suits for money damages is contingent upon claimant's compliance with the specifications set forth in Court of Claims Act 11 (b) (see Lepkowski v State of New York, 1 NY3d 201, 206-207 [2003]). Moreover, "[t]he Court of Claims Act does not require the State to ferret out or assemble information that section 11 (b) obligates the claimant to allege" (id. at 208).

In the case at bar, the claim plainly fails to allege any acts or omissions attributable to the State for which claimant may maintain a cause of action in the Court of Claims (see Court of Claims Act 11 [b]). Specifically, the instant claim fails to allege "the particular manner" in which the State was culpable or negligent (Kimball Brooklands Corp. v State of New York 180 AD3d 1031, 1033 [2d Dept 2020]). As a result, the State did not have an opportunity to investigate the claim promptly and to ascertain its liability. Accordingly, dismissal of the claim is warranted (Kimball Brooklands Corp. 180 AD3d at 1033).

Furthermore, the Court of Claims is a court of limited jurisdiction and can hear only claims against the State and certain public authorities (NY Const art VI; Court of Claims Act 9). The Court of Claims does not have jurisdiction over the County of Rockland, its agencies, or any individual employee thereof (see Fisher v State of New York, 10 NY2d 60 [1961]; Whitmore v State of New York, 55 AD2d 745, 746 [3d Dept 1976]). As such, the claim also warrants dismissal on this jurisdictional basis.

Accordingly, for the aforenoted reasons, the State's motion to dismiss Claim No. 135159 is hereby GRANTED.

February 16, 2021

White Plains, New York

WALTER RIVERA

Judge of the Court of Claims