New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BERNIER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-029-005, Claim No. 94347


Prisoner - Bailment award of $50.00 to claimant.

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:
M. BernierPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 11, 2000
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This claim, by a
pro se prisoner, alleges negligence on the part of defendant in losing claimant's wristwatch when he was transferred from Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing) to Southport Correctional Facility (hereinafter Southport) on April 19, 1996. The trial of this claim was held at Sing Sing on August 3, 2000.
Claimant testified that he was sent to the Draft Room at Sing Sing at about 5:00 p.m. to be processed for transfer to Southport. Claimant stated that the Draft Room Sergeant took his watch because the officer was unable to locate the facility permit which allowed claimant to possess the watch. When claimant arrived at Southport, he inquired about the watch. His correction counselor responded that he had to contact Sing Sing (Exh. 1). Claimant submitted into evidence, as Exhibit 2, a two-page document which consisted of a copy of a package room receipt indicating that claimant received a watch from his brother. The second page of the exhibit is a copy of a Sing Sing local permit dated January 20, 1996 allowing claimant to possess an Armitron watch.

On cross-examination, the State introduced into evidence a copy of claimant's I-64 Form (Personal Property Transferred Form) dated April 19, 1996 (Exh. A). Claimant signed the I-64 Form when he left Sing Sing on April 19, 1996 and again on April 22, 1996 when he received his property at Southport. Claimant admitted that the I-64 Form does not show the watch as part of his property. However, he stated, only property which is transferred is recorded on the form and since the Draft Room Sergeant confiscated his watch it was not transferred with the rest of his property and thus, not listed on his I-64 Form. Claimant also stated that according to facility policy, as stated on his permit for the watch (Exh. 2), the maximum value of a watch he was allowed to possess in the facility was $50.00.

On review of claimant's proof, we find and conclude the existence of a bailment has been proven. We find that the documentary evidence (Exh. 2) and claimant's credible trial testimony established that claimant possessed the watch on April 19, 1996 and that it was confiscated by the Draft Room Sergeant. The State's refusal or inability to return the bailed item on demand creates a presumption of negligence by the defendant, a presumption the State has failed to rebut (
Singer Co. v Stott & Davis Motor Express, 79 AD2d 227; Brisbane v State, Claim No. 88588, filed 6/25/96, Benza, J.). We further find and conclude that claimant established that the value of the watch at the time it was lost was $50.00.
Accordingly, we find and conclude that claimant is entitled to judgment in the sum of $50.00, inclusive of interest, the value of the lost property as determined by the Court.

The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

August 11, 2000
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims