By this action, claimant seeks to recover money damages for personal property
that he alleges was lost or damaged beyond repair by State prison officials. He
also seeks money damages for five days spent in keeplock as the result of an
alleged miscalculation of his release date. The claims arose in late 1994 and
early 1995 at Coxsackie Correctional Facility.
In October 1994, while claimant James McMoore was an inmate at Coxsackie
Correctional Facility, he was moved form the general population into the
Special Housing Unit ("SHU"). For that move, he was instructed to carry his
own personal property, which consisted of four bags. He testified that he did
this while he was handcuffed with his hands in front of his body. The property
in his possession at the time of this move was listed on an I-64 form
(Claimant's Exh 1). Claimant next saw his property on December 12, 1994, while
he was still housed in the SHU. At that time, he discovered that the following
items were missing: 3 cassette tapes, valued at $9.00; 11 Tupperware storage
jars, valued at $20.00; 2 fairly new towels, valued at $10.00; two legal
accordian files, valued at $6.00; and a Casio wrist watch which the Court finds
was damaged beyond repair, had a value of $20.00, for a total of
. There was no evidence that claimant's property was inventoried either in
December 1994 or later, when he was released from
A bailment exists when property is delivered from one person to another "for a
particular purpose under an express or implied contract with the understanding
that it shall be redelivered to the person delivering it, or kept until he
reclaims it after fulfillment of the purpose for which it was delivered" (9 NY
Jur 2d, Bailments and Chattel Leases, § 1, p 9). If the property is
not returned or, where a demand is required, the bailee fails to return it upon
demand, the bailor has established a prima facie case based on the presumption
of negligence (id.
, § 147, pp 177-178). The bailee must then rebut
that presumption, if possible, by showing that the loss was due to circumstances
not within his control or that it was damaged without his fault (id.
§ 149, p 181). The Court finds claimant's testimony with regard to the
loss and/or damage of personal property to be credible and to be sufficient to
establish a prima facie case of negligence against the State in connection with
With respect to the cause of action alleging miscalculation of claimant's date
for release from SHU, the Court finds that claimant's sentence was for a period
of six months ( Court's Exh 1) and accepts the testimony of the State's witness,
Capt. Vincent, that it is the practice of the Department of Correctional
Services to measure the period of confinement by calendar months, rather than
assigning an arbitrary number of days to represent a "month." Claimant
remained in keeplock from August 3, 1994 until February 3, 1995, which is a
period of six months under this method of calculation.
Claimant is awarded the sum of $65.00 in connection with his claim for lost or
damaged personal property with interest from December 12, 1994.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.