, alleges that items of his personal property were lost while in
the custody of the Department of Correctional Services (hereinafter "DOCS").
The trial of this Claim was heard on August 15, 2000 at the Sullivan
At trial, Claimant testified that on August 1, 1997 he was transferred to the
Special Housing Unit (hereinafter "SHU"), at the Shawangunk Correctional
Facility. On August 8, 1997 he was transferred from SHU to the facility
hospital and only after arriving at the facility hospital did the Claimant check
his personal property. At that time the Claimant realized that one full bag of
his property was missing and believed that it had been lost and/or stolen from
SHU and not the hospital, since the Claimant himself pushed the property cart
containing his property bag from SHU to the hospital the day he was transferred.
Claimant immediately reported the loss and subsequently filed an inmate claim
form alleging that he was missing the following property:
52 - Adult Mags
18 - Cassette Tapes
6 - Sweats Suits by Fila
3 - Pair of Fila Sneakers
1 - Aiwa Cassette Walkman
1 - AC-620 Adapter
868 - Photos in 6 Albums
17 - Bars of Soap
1 - Set of Headphones
32 - Packs of Newports
At trial, the State introduced as Exhibit A the I-64 signed by Claimant on
August 1, 1997, listing the property in his possession at the time he was
transferred to SHU. A comparison of that I-64 with the Claimant's inmate claim
form reveals substantial discrepancies between the property in the Claimant's
possession at the time he entered SHU and the property he claims was lost or
stolen upon his transfer from SHU seven days later. More specifically, on the
date Claimant entered SHU there is no reference on the I-64 to the 52 - adult
magazines, the 3 - pair of Fila sneakers, the 6 - Fila sweat suits, the 1-AC-620
adapter, the 868- photos in 6 albums, the 1 - set of headphones, or the 32 -
packs of Newports. The comparison of the August 1, 1997, I-64 (St. Ex. A) and
the inmate claim form, however, tend to support Claimant's allegation of the
loss of the 18 - cassette tapes, 17- bars of soap, and the AIWA cassette
To prove a cause of action for bailment, Claimant must demonstrate that his
property was deposited with the State and that the State refused to return it
after its return was demanded. (
Weinberg v. D-M Rest. Corp.,
60 AD2d 550; Heede Hoist & Mach. Co.
v Bayview Towers Apts
., 74 AD2d 598). Based upon the foregoing, the Court
believes that certain items of the Claimant's property were in fact lost upon
his release from SHU. However, the amount of property lost by the Claimant is
no where near as voluminous or substantial as that alleged in his inmate claim
form. The Court finds that the Claimant lost 18 - cassette tapes, 17- bars of
soap, and 1 - AIWA cassette Walkman.
Claimant produced no receipts or proof of purchase of any of these items,
however, he did testify to the original costs of these items when purchased new.
In a bailment case such as this, without objective proof of value, the Court
must determine, from the credible evidence presented at trial, the fair market
value of the missing property less depreciation.
(Schaffner v Pierce
, 75 Misc 2d 21, 24). Accordingly, the Court finds
that the total sum of $75.00 is a reasonable estimate of fair market value for
the 18 lost cassettes tapes, the 17 missing bars of soap, and the AIWA cassette
The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of Claimant for
the sum of $75.00 plus interest at the statutory rate from August 8, 1997.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.