New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MAJID v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-016-030, Claim No. 95916, Motion No. M-61172


Personal property claim of pro se inmate was dismissed.

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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Abdul Majid
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Earl F. Gialanella, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 23, 2000
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Abdul Majid alleges that the defendant by the Department of Correctional Services was responsible for the loss of certain items of his personal property.
Without objection from either party, the case was tried via video conferencing on March 22, 2000. The assistant attorney general representing the defendant was at Sullivan Correctional Facility; the claimant was several hundred miles away in Franklin County at Upstate Correctional Facility. My location was the Sullivan facility.
The claim sets out a loss of $741, the largest portion of which is $460 for 15 religious books. On September 5,1996, Majid, who was at Sullivan Correctional Facility, was transferred to Sullivan's special housing unit because of an altercation. SHU inmates are permitted fewer items of personal property than those in the general population. Therefore, when Majid was moved into SHU, his property was packed up in his regular cell -- 12 bags[1] worth on September 5, 1996.
Two days later on September 7
, Majid was brought out of his SHU cell, each bag that had been "I-64'ed" from his regular cell on September 5 was opened up, and the contents placed on a table in front of claimant. Because he had an excess of property and some of it was perishable foodstuffs, four boxes of claimant's belongings were sent home to his wife. Claimant signed pages one and two of exhibit A on September 7. Page one was the September 5 catalog of what he had when he was packed up to go to SHU; page two listed the items forwarded to his wife, including 53 books. Note that page one lists a total of 82 books.
Claimant testified he came out of SHU in late October, for which there was an I-64 covering six bags, dated November 1 and signed by claimant the next day (def exh B).
Just before Christmas of 1996, claimant was transferred from Sullivan to Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County. His property was again packed up on December 19, 1991, as reflected in the I-64 form introduced as defendant's exhibit C. This third and final I-64 was signed by Majid on December 24.
The defendant called to the stand correction officer G. Senft, who at the time was assigned to Sullivan's SHU as a reception detention officer; part of his duties included receiving inmates' property. Senft testified that after an inmate checks his property against the I-64 list, if he believes there are discrepancies, he may refuse to sign and such will be so noted on the form. Majid made no objections on any of the three I-64's he signed (exhs A-C). To that effect, claimant testified that he did not do a comprehensive review of his property until after Christmas. While Senft on cross-examination conceded that such procedure had not been reduced to written form, Majid
did not disprove the right of inmates to note their objections on the I-64.
Under the Court of Claims Act, a Notice of Intention to File a Claim sounding in negligence must be filed and served within 90 days. If done so, claimant will have two years from the date of accrual to interpose the claim (§10.3 of the Act). Majid served his Notice of Intention on February 13, 1997. Such date is too late for any act or omission related to his September assignment to SHU within Sullivan, or his late October release from SHU. His claim is directed at the events of September, but his Notice of Intention provides that the claim arose on "[December] 20, 1996, [when] I was transferred to Shawangunk. Upon checking my property numerous personal items were either missing or destroyed" (def affirm [M-61172], exh A).

Claimant testified that upon his arrival at Shawangunk on December 20,
he did not discover his losses for five or six days. In general, leaving aside the disparity between the notice of intention and the claim, a loss at such time would have been timely vis a vis his February 13 notice of intention. But the proof therefor is lacking -- Majid offers no I-64's, nor any documentary or testamentary alternative (7 NYCRR §1700.6[c]). Religious books were, as noted, a major portion of his claim, and during trial, claimant described the specific books in some detail. The I-64 which Majid signed November 2 lists 23 religious books, and the I-64 signed December 24 lists one fewer, 22 books (def exh B and C). In fact, the second I-64, signed November 2, references no regular books or dictionaries, whereas the December 24 form, which includes five regular books (or magazines) and three dictionaries, lists more books in total than the November form does.
Majid attempted to show that he was out of his SHU cell for too brief a period for there to have been a "meticulous" review of his property in September. While a logbook was maintained that would indicate such times, neither party offered it. I indicated at trial that had claimant requested same upon receiving my letter setting the trial date, I would have been inclined, subject to defendant's response, to order the log to be produced.
At trial, claimant was quite forthcoming on the amount of damage or loss for each item, but such responses were inconsistent with his written claim. Majid explained that the $80 pair of Timberland boots included in his claim was not lost, but only damaged, and repaired for $15. The largest item of his claim, the $460 sought for religious books, was also presented differently. Claimant indicated some of the 15 books were damaged, "a lot more damaged than lost." He went on to explain that the damage to these books, some of which he testified were 20 years old, was caused by instant coffee liquefying. No argument was even attempted that defendant should have packed nonperishable containers of food separately from books and papers.
* * *
In view of the foregoing, to the extent that Abdul Majid's cause of action accrued prior to November 15, 1996 – 90 days before service of his notice of intention on February 13, 1997 – defendant's motion no M-61172 is
granted; such motion is otherwise denied. To the extent that Majid's claim accrued on or after November 15, 1996, he has failed to prove by a preponderance of credible evidence that his personal property was lost or damaged as a consequence of the defendant's negligence, and accordingly, his claim is dismissed.

May 23, 2000
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]The number of bags was noted in the lower right hand portion of the property form, commonly known as an I-64 (def exh A, p.1). Officially, the I-64 is a 2064 form; see its lower left corner and 7 NYCRR § 1700.6(c)(1)(v). Exhibits were not exchanged ahead of time. Consequently at trial, when the State offered three exhibits, they were faxed to Mr. Magid and admitted, without objection, as defendant's A, B and C. But the transmission was incomplete, and after trial Magid was mailed a set of the exhibits and allowed 30 days to respond. As to their use at trial, the exhibits were not unfamiliar to claimant -- each one was a Sullivan Correctional I-64 form that he had signed.