New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GRAHAM v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-029-007, Claim No. 93816


Prisoner - alleged medical malpractice. No expert testimony; no proof medical care was not appropriate or adequate.

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:
Patrick GrahamPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General of 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 an inmate, appearing
pro se, alleges that defendant's medical personnel at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing) rendered negligent medical care to claimant. The trial of this claim was held at Sing Sing on August 3, 2000.
Claimant testified that on October 29, 1995 at about 7:35 p.m., during early "go back" from recreation, he became dizzy, fell down, and lost consciousness for approximately 15 seconds; that as a result of the fall he suffered a ½" cut to his upper lip, which was bleeding. Claimant further stated that he was taken to the facility clinic and was examined by two nurses; that he was informed he would need stitches; that he was placed in a holding cell for two hours, but did not receive any further medical care before returning to his cell. Claimant further stated that his wound was not cleaned and that the medical personnel never attempted to determine the reason he passed out.

To maintain an action for injuries sustained while under the care and control of a medical practitioner, a party may proceed upon a theory of simple negligence or upon the more particularized theory of medical malpractice (
Hale v State of New York, 53 AD2d 1025, lv denied 40 NY2d 804). The theory of simple negligence is restricted to those cases where the alleged negligent act is readily determinable by the trier of the facts on common knowledge. However, where the treatment received by the patient is an issue, the more specialized theory of medical malpractice must be followed (see, Twitchell v MacKay, 78 AD2d 125; Hale v State of New York, supra). Here, claimant is not asserting a cause of action upon a theory of ordinary negligence, but one upon a theory of medical malpractice as he is complaining about the quality and sufficiency of the medical treatment he received.
The burden was on claimant to establish that the care and treatment afforded him at the correctional facility constituted a deviation from the applicable standard of care by credible evidence that the medical personnel at Sing Sing did not use reasonable care in the application of knowledge and skill ordinarily possessed by practitioners in the field (
Hale v State of New York, supra; Pike v Honsinger, 155 NY 201; Riley v Wieman, 137 AD2d 309). The burden was also on claimant to establish that the alleged negligence was a proximate cause of his damages, i.e., that it was a substantial factor in causing or exacerbating his injuries (Kennedy v Peninsula Hosp. Center, 135 AD2d 788; Koster v Greenberg, 120 AD2d 644).
The State has an obligation to provide ordinary and appropriate medical treatment to those inmates in its institutions (
Gordon v City of New York, 120 AD2d 562, affd 70 NY2d 839). In a medical malpractice action alleging improper treatment, such as this matter, expert medical testimony is required (Morgen v State of New York, 40 AD2d 891; see also, Macey v Hassam, 97 AD2d 919). Claimant did not present any expert testimony, nor did he provide any credible evidence that the medical treatment he received was not proper. He also failed to establish that any delay that may have resulted constituted medical malpractice or exacerbated his condition. In fact, the documents introduced into evidence at trial (Exs. 1, 2, and A) established that claimant had a ½" laceration to his left, upper lip which was not actively bleeding when he was seen by the defendant's nurses (see Ex. A, claimant's ambulatory health record dated 10/29/95). The exhibits also establish that claimant received follow-up treatment from the facility dentist and was monitored thereafter. Finally, there was absolutely no evidence or testimony that claimant has ever experienced any recurrence of the dizzy spell or fainting that led to his treatment in the first instance. Thus, claimant cannot allege or prove any active condition which the defendant has failed to treat adequately.
In the absence of any testimony from a medical expert that the medical treatment claimant received was improper, we find and conclude that claimant has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the medical care provided to claimant was not appropriate or adequate.

Accordingly, the State's motion to dismiss made at the conclusion of the trial is now granted and the claim is hereby dismissed. The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

August 11, 2000
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims