New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SIMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-019-025, Claim No. 96993


Claimant awarded $100.00 on bailment claim for missing personal property.

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):

Claimant's attorney:
Defendant's attorney:
BY: Michael Rizzo, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 17, 2000

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

This is a Claim by inmate Robert Sims, appearing
pro se, alleging 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.

From the testimony of Claimant, and the facts adduced at trial, the Court finds that Claimant was transferred from the Sing Sing Correctional Facility to Shawangunk Correctional Facility on or about August 17, 1997. In preparation for that transfer, Claimant's property was packed at Sing Sing and an I-64 form was completed. Upon Claimant's arrival at Shawangunk he was placed in isolation and his property was either withheld or refused at that time. It was not until August 29, 1997 that the Claimant received his property at Shawangunk. At that time, an I-64 was presented to him, however, Claimant refused to sign the same, claiming that the I-64 did not reflect his property. The State admits by the testimony of Sergeant Myers, as well as Claimant's Exhibit 1, that the property of Claimant received at Shawangunk from Sing Sing lacked a corresponding I-64. Consequently, without that I-64 this Court cannot tell what the Claimant had when he left Sing Sing or what was missing from Claimant's property on his receipt of the same twelve days later at Shawangunk. However, on September 1, 1997 Claimant wrote to Superintendent Portuondo advising Mr. Portuondo of the following missing items:
  1. 2 - Bag of Legal Papers
  2. 48 - Family and Friends Photos
  3. 8 - Sex Magazines
  4. 2 - Dictionary
  5. 1 - Case Soap
  6. 2 - Cup
  7. 6 - Deodorant
  8. 1 - Jacket Army
  9. 1 - Mirror
  10. 1 - Big Bag of Pencils
  11. 5 - Pair of Socks
  12. 2 - Sign Language Books
  13. 10 - Soap Bars
  14. 2 - Pair of Eye Glasses
  15. 2 - Back Support
  16. 7 - Books.

(Claimant's Ex. 4).

Deputy Superintendent Annetts responded to that letter indicating that the Claimant should file a claim with "DSA L. Cariola" for the missing items (Claimant's Ex. 5), since their internal investigation found no evidence to substantiate Claimant's allegation of staff misconduct at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility.

It is well-settled that 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. (
Heede Hoist & Mach. Co. v Bayview Towers Apts., 74 AD2d 598). The fact that the State acknowledges the missing I-64 from Sing Sing lends a degree of credibility to the Claimant's position that certain items of his personal property never made it from Sing Sing to Shawangunk, or if they did, never reached the Claimant when he was finally reunited with his property on August 29, 1997. While the Court accepts that an internal investigation at Shawangunk may have found no evidence to substantiate staff misconduct at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility, the fact remains that due to a breach of procedure either, at Sing Sing or Shawangunk, the I-64 that should have arrived at Shawangunk with the Claimant's property from Sing Sing was either missing or lost. As such, the State cannot rebut Claimant's allegation that certain items of the Claimant's personal property were lost or stolen while in the State's possession. (Weinberg v. D-M Rest. Corp., 60 AD2d 550). As such, the Court finds credible that Claimant was missing the items that he listed in his September 1, 1997 letter to Superintendent Portuondo. (Claimant's Ex. 4).

However, Claimant offered no proof as to the value of these items in terms of receipts or money orders. The only proof of value were estimations established by the Claimant's own testimony. Without more concrete proof,
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). Consequently, the Court finds that the total sum of $125.00 is a reasonable estimate of fair market value for the lost personal property identified by Claimant in his letter to Superintendent Portuondo. (Claimant's Ex. 4).

The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of Claimant for the sum of $125.00 plus interest at the statutory rate from August 29, 1997.


October 17, 2000
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims