New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

TIRADO v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-029-002, Claim No. 93710


No liability for alleged State negligence in losing inmate's mail.

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:
Edward TiradoPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 7, 2000
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant alleges negligence on the part of the State for failure to credit claimant's inmate account with $30.00 and for losing a letter sent to claimant by his mother.

At the beginning of trial, the State made a motion to dismiss the claim based upon the State's affirmative defense, raised in the Verified Answer, to this claim asserting that the "Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction because the claim was untimely served on the Attorney General's Office in violation of the Court of Claims Act." The Court denied the State's motion on the basis that the affirmative defense was not raised with particularity as required by Court of Claims Act § 11(c). While the affirmative defense states that the claim was untimely served, it does not state that the claim should have been served within 90 days of accrual (
Villa v State of New York, 228 AD2d 930).
Claimant testified that on May 7, 1995, he spoke by telephone with his mother. Claimant stated that he never received a letter and $30.00 money order sent to him at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing) by his mother. Claimant stated that his mother put a trace on the money order and that it was discovered that the money order was received at Sing Sing.

To establish the procedure that officials at Sing Sing were to follow when his mother's letter and money order arrived, claimant submitted into evidence an Inmate Grievance Review Committee's decision dated September 20, 1995 (Exhibit 1). The decision stated that when checks or money orders are received with correspondence for an inmate, the check or money order should be separated from the other contents of the envelope and sent to Inmate Accounts for processing; the other contents should be sent to the inmate. Claimant asserts this procedure was not followed as he received neither the money order nor the letter. Claimant also states that he submitted an inmate claim (Exhibit 4) and an inmate grievance (Exhibit 5) regarding this matter, and that he did not receive a response to either.

On cross-examination, the Assistant Attorney General showed claimant a copy of his inmate account statement for the period April 29, 1995 through May 31, 1995 (Exhibit A). Claimant agreed that the document showed that he received a mail receipt for $30.00 on May 12, 1995. Claimant stated that he never received a copy of this inmate account statement and that this was the first time he had seen it. He further stated that the $30.00 recorded on the inmate statement (Exhibit A) was a gift from someone other than his mother; that he should have received credit for two $30.00 checks and his account was credited with only one. However, upon inquiry from the Court, claimant was unable to identify the person who allegedly sent this additional $30.00 check, or to state why he would have received two $30.00 checks the same week. Claimant also did not attempt to submit any proof of the additional $30.00 check.

Based upon the preponderance of credible evidence, the Court finds and concludes that claimant's mother did indeed send him a letter with a $30.00 money order on or about

May 7, 1995. We further find and conclude that claimant's inmate account was credited with the $30.00 on May 12, 1995 (see Exhibit A). Claimant's testimony that he received two checks for $30.00 in early May, 1995 is simply not credible since he was unable to identify, much less establish, the existence of any such additional donor.
Claimant seeks $1,000.00 to compensate him for the State's negligence in losing his letter and for the denial of his due process rights in not giving him his mail.

We find, based upon the preponderance of credible evidence, that claimant failed to establish that he did not receive his letter from his mother. In addition, he offered no proof as to the value of the letter, and it appears that the damages he is seeking are punitive damages, which are not recoverable against the State (
Sharapata v Town of Islip, 82 AD2d 350 affd 56 NY2d 332). We also note that no suit may be maintained against the State for any alleged cause of action for Federal civil rights violations in the Court of Claims (Matter of Thomas v New York Temporary State Comm., 83 AD2d 723 affd 56 NY2d 656; Davis v State of New York,
124 AD2d 420).
Finally, since Claimant did not establish any protected right which was impeded by the defendant, neither procedural nor substantive due process under the New York State Constitution is implicated in this matter.
Therefore, based upon the foregoing, the Court finds and concludes that claimant failed to establish either: (1) the State's negligence; or (2) any due process violation and the claim is dismissed. All motions made at trial, upon which the Court reserved decision, are hereby denied. The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

August 7, 2000
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims