New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CHAPLIN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-007-512, Claim No. 98549


Claimant contends that he cut his arm on razor-like protrusions on the bedpost in his cell at
Clinton Correctional Facility
. Claimant awarded $50.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

John L. Bell
Claimant's attorney:
David E. Chaplin, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
(Michele M. Walls, Esq., Assistant Attorney General,of Counsel)
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 1, 2000

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant contends that he cut his arm on "razor-like protrusions"[1]
on the bedpost in his cell at Clinton Correctional Facility (hereinafter Clinton) on March 12, 1998.
Claimant was housed in six cell on five company of C block at Clinton. He stated that he had been sleeping in his cell and that when he woke up he noticed blood on his left arm. He then looked at the metal posts of his bed and purportedly observed blood on one of the posts and small, sharp metal protrusions on the bedposts. Claimant testified that the posts had been previously shortened when defendant cut the posts and that metal protrusions remained at the place where the posts had been cut. Claimant was treated at the facility infirmary for a small cut of about one inch on his arm.

On cross-examination, claimant admitted that he had been assigned to the same cell with the same bed for about four months before the incident. He claimed that, during such time, he never observed the protrusions on the bedposts.

Charles Layhee was called by defendant as a witness. Mr. Layhee has been employed by the Department of Correctional Services (hereinafter DOCS) for 19 years and is a maintenance supervisor. He stated that he did not have any record of a bed being repaired for a sharp edge from cell six on five company of C block.

In rebuttal, claimant introduced an inmate grievance form in which claimant complained about the purported protrusions. The bottom on the form indicates that the grievance was resolved when the "[b]ed was fixed" in late April 1998 (Claimant's Exhibit 1).

The credible evidence reflects that claimant was housed in a cell with bedposts that had been cut by DOCS. When the posts were cut, small, metal protrusions remained. Claimant cut his left arm on one of the posts and sustained a small laceration. He was seen one time by a nurse and no follow up treatment was necessary. He did not show the court any scar at trial. Although defendant moved to dismiss at the conclusion of proof upon the ground that it did not receive prior notice of the purportedly defective condition, notice is not a prerequisite to a viable claim when the evidence establishes that defendant created the condition (
see, e.g., Rundquist v Colletti, 237 AD2d 687, 688). The court finds defendant liable for the laceration sustained by claimant on March 12, 1998. The small cut, which resulted in no permanent damage and was treated with one visit to the infirmary, is reasonably compensated by an award of $50.
The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment against defendant for the sum of $50.

May 1, 2000
Plattsburgh, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

All quotes are from the court's trial notes unless otherwise noted.