This claim arose on August 2, 1994 at Coxsackie Correctional Facility. At
trial, claimant testified that at the noon meal, he and other inmates seasoned
their food with table salt. At the conclusion of the meal, after they had
eaten, they discovered foreign objects in the salt shaker. Objects which they
recognized as mouse droppings or feces. Claimant testified that later during
the day, he began to experience nausea and stomach cramps and was placed on one
day of medical cell confinement.
The Court notes that because food served at correctional facilities is not
purchased by inmates, the implied warranty that it is fit for human consumption
and contains no foreign or injurious substances (
86 NY Jur 2d, Products Liability, § 127) does not apply. To bring an
action for food poisoning or other injury from adulterated food that is based on
allegations of negligence, lack of due care must be proven by direct or
circumstantial evidence, and proof that the food preparer exercised due care is
a defense (Annotation: Liability for Injury or Death Allegedly Caused by
Spoilage, Contamination, or Other Deleterious Condition of Food or Food
, 2 ALR5th 1, 39, § 2 [b]; 36A CJS Food § 57).
The instant action is founded in negligence, and thus, in order to prove the
defendant liable, claimant must establish that the State failed to use due care
in handling food served to prisoners and did not exercise "due regard" for the
health and safety of persons in its custody (Correction Law § 70 ).
Two of the other inmates who were at claimant's table on the day in question
also brought suits against the State, alleging negligent handling of food in the
facility kitchen. Those claims were tried in 1996 by the Hon. James P. King,
who dismissed them both on the ground that those claimants failed to prove that
the State was on notice of any mouse infestation, that the method of food
storage was faulty, or that the State failed to exercise due care in any other
Gray v State of New York
and Eldridge v State of New York
No. 90995 and 91203, filed March 13, 1996, King, J., opn at 4-5). Claimant in
the instant action has likewise provided no persuasive evidence from which the
Court can conclude that there was any failure of due care on the part of the
State. Consequently, the claim must be dismissed.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.