New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MUHAMMAD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-019-005, Claim No. 94836


Synopsis


Claim dismissed due to Claimant's failure to establish prima facie case of negligence or medical malpractice resulting from issuance of eyeglasses while incarcerated.

Case Information

UID:
2000-019-005
Claimant(s):
SA'D MUHAMMAD
Claimant short name:
MUHAMMAD
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
94836
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Claimant's attorney:
SA'D MUHAMMAD, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: Michael W. Friedman, Assistant Attorney General of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 19, 2000
City:
Binghamton
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
This pro se Claimant alleges negligence by the State of New York (hereinafter "State") in the distribution and prescription of eyeglasses for the Claimant while incarcerated at both Shawangunk Correctional Facility and Sullivan Correctional Facility. The trial of this Claim was heard on May 10, 2000 at Sullivan Correctional Facility.


Claimant testified on his own behalf and stated that on or about December 7, 1993, he requested to see an eye doctor at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility because he was having trouble seeing at distances. The doctor at Shawangunk prescribed a pair of glasses which Claimant received on or about January 1, 1994. On or about July 20, 1995, Claimant again requested to see an eye doctor after he was transferred to Sullivan Correctional Facility. Claimant testified he made this second request because of his inability to see distances despite wearing the glasses he received on January 1, 1994. Claimant's second request to see an eye doctor was denied inasmuch as routine eye examinations are permitted once every two years pursuant to Department of Correctional Services policy. Upon being denied his request for a second examination, Claimant filed a grievance and prevailed on the same, being allowed to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor on September 27, 1995. Claimant testified he received a second set of prescription eyeglasses with the correct prescription sometime thereafter. Claimant alleges damages for his worsened eyesight, personal suffering, and the cost of the old prescription.

Claimant, with only hearsay evidence, attempted to establish that the second eye doctor informed him that the glasses he had been wearing were not the prescription as indicated on his medical records and, as a result, his eyesight had worsened since January 1, 1994. However, the State objected to such hearsay testimony and the Court sustained the same. Other than that hearsay testimony, Claimant offered no other proof or expert testimony that, in fact, the first prescription was either wrong, inappropriately filled, or that his eyes had worsened as a result of the wearing the allegedly improper eyeglasses since January 1, 1994. After providing his testimony to the Court, Claimant rested.


The State offered no proof, but rather moved to dismiss on the grounds Claimant had failed to establish a prima facie case of either ordinary negligence or medical malpractice. In response, Claimant admitted that he could not prove a causal connection between his decreased eyesight and his allegedly improper eye glasses.


Claimant has failed to meet his burden of proof whether this Claim is viewed as sounding in ordinary negligence or medical malpractice. With respect to ordinary negligence, Claimant offered no evidence whatsoever substantiating his allegation that his eyeglass prescription was improperly filled. To the extent that this Claim could be viewed as arising from medical malpractice resulting from the issuance of the wrong prescription, Claimant failed to offer any medical proof that he was injured in any way as a result of the alleged erroneous prescription. It is well-settled that without medical proof (i.e., expert testimony) a claim sounding in medical malpractice must fail. (Macey v Hassam, 97 AD2d 919). Claimant by his own admission was not an expert in optometry or ophthalmology and provided no such expert testimony to the Court. Consequently, Claimant failed to establish a prima facie case of either ordinary negligence or medical malpractice. (Santana v State of New York, Ct Cl., April 28, 2000, Bell, J., Claim No. 98705).


Accordingly, Claim No. 94836 is hereby DISMISSED.


ENTER JUDGMENT ACCORDINGLY.


May 19, 2000
Binghamton, New York

HON. FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Judge of the Court of Claims