New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ROBINSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-015-522, Claim No. 97778


Claim by inmate for personal injuries sustained when part of plaster ceiling fell on him dismissed for failure to prove that State had actual or constructive notice of the condition prior to the accident.

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:
Darkell Robinson, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Timothy P. MulveyAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 15, 2000
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

This claim involves personal injuries allegedly sustained by the claimant when a portion of the ceiling in a restroom located at Mid-State Correctional Facility fell and struck him on the head.

According to claimant he was standing in a restroom at Mid-State Correctional Facility on August 28, 1997 when he was struck in the head by what he described as "a few big pieces" of a plaster ceiling which fell upon his head without warning. The claimant was knocked to the floor and he testified that he became dizzy. He was thereafter sent to the clinic where he was dispensed aspirin. Later in the day claimant testified that he was in the mess hall when he became disoriented, informed an officer and was sent to the clinic. According to the claimant he was seen by a nurse at the facility infirmary and instructed to return to his cell, lay down and avoid any exertion. Claimant testified that during this time he experienced headaches, dizziness and that he returned to the infirmary on a weekly basis for the six months subsequent to the incident complained of. According to claimant he was prescribed only aspirin to address his complaints and, ultimately, Naproxen for his continued headaches. At sometime thereafter, claimant was given an eye examination and corrective lenses were recommended and supplied.

Upon the conclusion of claimant's direct testimony the defendant offered the testimony of Richard Stine and Thomas Hanley. Mr. Stine's testimony was less than enlightening and the testimony of Thomas Hanley established simply that the claimant was treated on August 28, 1997 for cuts and lumps attendant to being struck by plaster which fell from the ceiling and struck him in the head. Claimant's ambulatory health record, submitted into evidence as Exhibit A, notes that the claimant was provided Advil. Mr. Hanley related that he had reviewed records maintained at the Mid-State Infirmary and that, except as provided in Exhibit A, no other entries were found with regard to injuries or complaints relating to the claimant.

The State is subject in the operation of its prisons to the same duty imposed upon other landowners to "exercise due care to correct a dangerous condition it knew or should have known existed in the exercise of reasonable care" (
Condon v Sate of New York, 193 AD2d 874, 875). Notice may be either actual or constructive but is a necessary element of any cause of action against the State as an owner of property (Sierra v State of New York, 202 AD2d 491). In the instant matter, the claimant has failed to adduce any evidence that the condition of the ceiling in question was known or should reasonably have been known to or discovered by the State. In the absence of such proof, the claimant has failed to sustain his burden of showing that the State failed to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition under the circumstances (Bowers v State of New York, 241 AD2d 760). As a result, the claim is hereby dismissed.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.

December 15, 2000
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims