Claimant, an inmate proceeding
, filed this Claim against defendant to recover damages for
property that was allegedly lost on August 18, 1997 when claimant was housed in
the Special Housing Unit (SHU) at Fishkill Correctional Facility (Fishkill). A
unified trial was held on May 25, 2000.
At trial, claimant testified that upon confinement to SHU on July 21, 1997,
correction officers packed his belongings in six plastic bags, inventoried the
personal property (
, Claim, Form 2064 ["I-64"]), tagged it with claimant's name and
identification number and stored claimant's belongings. Claimant testified that
before confinement in the SHU, he was permitted to look through his belongings,
verify the contents and take specified items with him to the SHU. Upon his
release on August 18, 1997, claimant discovered that one plastic bag of property
was missing. After cross-referencing property recovered with items listed on
the aforementioned I-64 form, claimant determined that the loss amounted to
Once the State took possession of claimant's personal property, the State owed
claimant the duties of a bailee. The State's failure to produce claimant's
property or offer a reasonable explanation for such failure warrants an
inference of negligence (
, Claflin v Meyer
, 75 NY 260; Ahlers v State of New
, Claim No. 82543, Unreported Decision of Corbett, J. [filed 12-23-91]).
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Court finds that claimant has already been
compensated for the losses arising from this bailment transaction. At trial,
claimant testified that he filed a claim for the aforementioned losses with the
facility and was offered a settlement of $107.50. In order to receive the
settlement money, claimant was required to return a notarized Claim and Release
Form and N.Y.S. Standard Voucher (see
, Claim, Memorandum from Carl Oken).
Claimant's account was credited $107.50 with a check drawn on a petty cash
account of the Fishkill Correctional Facility (see
, Exh. A).
Claimant conceded that he accepted the settlement money, but testified that he
did so on the belief that it was only partial settlement for some of the lost
items. Although given the opportunity to do so, claimant has failed to provide
the Court with any evidence to substantiate his claim that the money he received
from the State was intended to cover only part of his loss. Accordingly, this
Court finds that claimant's acceptance of $107.50 constituted full compensation
for the losses at the core of this Claim. Thus, Claim No. 98576 is
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.