New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BONDS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-015-046, Claim No. 101992, Motion No. M-61562


Summary judgment upon the liability issue will not be granted in an inmate bailment cae when there is a question of fact present about how the property loss occurred.

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):

Claimant's attorney:
Johnnie Bonds, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Joel L. Marmelstein, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 28, 2000
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The motion of the claimant for "an Order For Enlargement to Claim and For Summary Judgment Pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules § 3213, due to negligence and/or gross negligence by employee's [sic] of the State of New York" is denied. The claim filed on February 22, 2000 seeks recovery of the sum of $227.50 on behalf of an inmate appearing pro se as the reasonable value of three pieces of the claimant's art work which were lost, and two pieces that were damaged, while in the custody of employees of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS). It is alleged that during February of 1999 the claimant created five pieces of wooden art while at Marcy Correctional Facility which he placed in the custody of DOCS for transfer and display in an art show to be conducted in Albany, New York. By written notice dated September 7, 1999, the Recreation Supervisor at Marcy Correctional Facility advised claimant that of the five items of artwork, three were damaged beyond repair and were destroyed, and the remaining two were damaged and sent to the inmate at the expense of DOCS. Claimant commenced an administrative proceeding seeking the sum of $227.50 and rejected the State's offer of $35.00 to resolve the matter . DOCS denied recovery to claimant in the administrative proceeding upon the ground that "The original $35 offered is a reasonable level of compensation based on the claimant's failure to submit receipts confirming costs of materials and minimal repairs necessary to items 1 and 4". The claim and this motion ensued.

The Court is uncertain as to what relief claimant is seeking by the use of the term "Enlargement". Defense counsel interprets the motion papers for the proposition that claimant seeks to amend the claim to recover an additional $4.84 for postage which he believed was charged against his inmate account to pay for the shipment of the returned works of art. If that is indeed what the claimant is seeking he is not entitled to the requested relief as Exhibit A to the claim states that DOCS agreed to pay that expense and claimant's reply affidavit sworn to May 12, 2000 states in paragraph (4) (a) that "Claimant sought to reclaim the amount of $4.84 believing this amount had been removed from his account to pay for remaining two (2) pieces of Art Works to be sent out, as no one could and/or would explain their where abouts [sic]." The Court interprets the quoted language to mean that while claimant originally believed that he was being charged for the shipping he later determined to the contrary.

Turning to the request for summary judgment, this record establishes to the satisfaction of the Court that all five pieces of artwork were damaged after being placed in the custody of DOCS. However, there is no evidence in the record establishing as a matter of law that the defendant caused or contributed to the loss suffered by the claimant. Upon this record there is a material question of fact precluding summary judgment upon the issue of whether DOCS exercised reasonable care in safeguarding claimant's property (Bank of N.Y. v Colnaghi USA, 220 AD2d 327; Faller v Scali, McCabe, Sloves, 198 AD2d 96).

June 28, 2000
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated March 29, 2000;
  2. Affidavit of Johnnie Bonds sworn to March 29, 2000;
  3. Affirmation in opposition of Joel L. Marmelstein dated April 10, 2000;
  4. Affidavit of Johnnie Bonds sworn to May 12, 2000;
  5. Affidavit of Johnnie Bonds sworn to April 12, 2000;
  6. Claim filed on February 22, 2000.