New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MCMOORE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK , #2000-028-0006, Claim No. 91183


Claimant is awarded $65.00 for property that was lost while he was house in keeplock, but he failed to prove that his confinement was miscalculated. The Court accepts that for the purposes of calculating a "month" for purposes of prison discipline, correction officials use a method relying on the day of the month (e.g., the 3rd or 15th of each month) rather than counting a specific number of days.

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: Michele M. Walls, Esq. Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 29, 2000

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

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 $65.00[1]
. There was no evidence that claimant's property was inventoried either in December 1994 or later, when he was released from SHU.[2]
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 its loss.
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.

September 29, 2000
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]The value listed for each item of property has been determined by the Court based upon the evidence adduced at trial.
[2]At trial, the claimant withdrew his claim for damages regarding his Sharp typewriter.