New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ANDUJAR v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-028-0015, Claim No. 99397


Synopsis


Inmate claim based on negligence and constitutional violations is dismissed because proof at trial established that the State acted reasonably and promptly to correct physical defects in the cell to which claimant had been assigned.

Case Information

UID:
2000-028-0015
Claimant(s):
JOSE ANDUJAR
Claimant short name:
ANDUJAR
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
99397
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RICHARD E. SISE
Claimant's attorney:
JOSE ANDUJAR, pro se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: Kevan Acton, Esq. Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
November 30, 2000
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
This claim arose in October 1998 at Coxsackie Correctional Facility. At trial, claimant testified that on Tuesday, October 27
th, following a disciplinary hearing, he was escorted to cell E-2-36, where he was to be confined on keeplock status for thirty days pursuant to the sentence imposed at the hearing. When he arrived at the cell, he noticed that the light fixture was inoperable, windows were missing, and the toilet was not working properly. He stated that he advised Corrections Officer Beat of this situation but was told that the officer's shift was nearly over and that if claimant did not peacefully go into the cell, the officer would have to "pull the pin" and bring in security forces. Claimant complied, but over the following four days he continued to complain of conditions in the cell. He was removed to another cell on October 30, 1998. With respect to damages, claimant testified that because of the inadequate conditions in his cell, he "froze his behind," could not get legal work accomplished, and suffered from a foul smell emanating from the toilet.
Testimony for the defense was provided by Lt. Fee, who introduced an October 26 logbook entry (Exh. A) showing that on that date, the day prior to claimant's disciplinary hearing, cell 36 was closed for repairs. Also testifying was a Mr. Thomas King, who was maintenance supervisor for Coxsackie C.F. at the time in question. He introduced records indicating that certain repairs, including replacement of windows and repair of the light, were requested for cell 36 and that that they were completed on October 26
th (Exh B). Additional repairs were performed on cell 36 on October 27th, the day that claimant took occupancy, and on October 29th, 2000, Mr. King received further requests for replacement of the large and small windows. Such repairs were completed that day.
This claim is based on allegations of common law negligence and violation of various provisions of the United States Constitution. The latter causes of action are dismissed, because
no claim exists against the State of New York for alleged violations of an individual's rights under the United States Constitution (Thomas v New York Temp. State Commn. on Regulation of Lobbying, 83 AD2d 723, affd 56 NY2d 656), nor is the State a "person" amennable to suit under 42 USC § 1983 (Will v Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 US 58).
With respect to the cause of action based on common law negligence, the State has a duty to exercise "reasonable care under the circumstances" to protect against foreseeable hazards (Basso v Miller, 40 NY2d 233, 241). To establish that the State violated this duty, claimant must prove that it had notice of the condition and that it failed to act reasonably to remedy the condition (Gordon v American Museum of Natural History, 67 NY2d 836; Goldblatt v State of New York, 72 AD2d 886; Rinaldi v State of New York, 49 AD2d 361). It the instant situation, the documentary evidence establishes that reasonable and prompt attention was given to any and all defects in the cell to which claimant was originally assigned. Inasmuch as there was no credible proof of negligence on the part of the State, the claim is dismissed.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.


November 30, 2000
Albany, New York

HON. RICHARD E. SISE
Judge of the Court of Claims