New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

FRANCOIS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-010-037, Claim No. 93165


Synopsis


Pro se
assault by other inmate

Case Information

UID:
2000-010-037
Claimant(s):
NELSON FRANCOIS
Claimant short name:
FRANCOIS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
93165
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Terry Jane Ruderman
Claimant's attorney:
NELSON FRANCOISPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 11, 2000
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant, an inmate proceeding
pro se, seeks damages for personal injuries that he allegedly sustained on March 21, 1995, when he was assaulted by another inmate at Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Sing Sing"). This claim was heard in a unified trial.
Claimant testified that, the day after his arrival at Sing Sing, he was in B-block yard when he was approached from behind and slashed on the left side of his face by an unknown assailant. Claimant received medical treatment and was placed in involuntary protective custody. Claimant testified that, because he had recently arrived at Sing Sing, he did not know anyone and was not aware of any enemies at the facility.

It is well settled that the State is required to use reasonable care to protect the inmates of its correctional facilities from foreseeable risk of harm (
see, Flaherty v State of New York, 296 NY 342; Dizak v State of New York, 124 AD2d 329; Sebastiano v State of New York, 112 AD2d 562). Foreseeable risk of harm includes the risk of attack by other prisoners (see, Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833). However, "[t]he State is not an insurer of inmate safety; its duty is to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable attacks by other inmates" (Padgett v State of New York, 163 AD2d 914). The mere occurrence of an unprovoked, unexplained attack by a fellow inmate, with whom claimant had no prior contact, does not give rise to an inference of negligence, absent a showing that prison officials had notice of a foreseeable dangerous situation (see, Stanley v State of New York, 239 AD2d 700; Roudette v State of New York, 224 AD2d 808; Leibach v State of New York, 215 AD2d 978; Padgett v State of New York, supra). The mere fact that a correction officer may not have been present when the assault on claimant occurred does not give rise to an inference of negligence, absent a showing that prison officials had notice of a foreseeable dangerous situation (see, Leibach v State of New York, supra; Padgett v State of New York, supra).
Claimant testified that he did not have any known enemies at Sing Sing and he could not identify his attacker. Accordingly, there is no basis for finding that
defendant had any notice of a foreseeably dangerous situation and there is no basis for finding defendant liable for the attack.
Defendant's motion to dismiss, upon which decision was reserved, is now GRANTED and Claim No. 93165 is DISMISSED.

LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

July 11, 2000
White Plains , New York

HON. TERRY JANE RUDERMAN
Judge of the Court of Claims