New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

DAVIS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-019-024, Claim No. 97057


Synopsis


Claimant awarded $50.00 on bailment claim for missing personal property.

Case Information

UID:
2000-019-024
Claimant(s):
ABDALLAH DAVIS
Claimant short name:
DAVIS
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
97057
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

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

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

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant appearing,
pro se, 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 Correctional Facility.

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


(Claim, attachment).

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 Walkman.


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 Walkman.

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.


October 19, 2000
Binghamton, New York

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