New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RIVERS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-029-009, Claim No. 93718


Prisoner - bailment - no liability - dismissed.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :
Caption amended sua sponte to show the only properly named defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

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

Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Ronald Rivers, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 16, 2000
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This claim, by a
pro se prisoner, alleges negligence on the part of the defendant in losing certain items of claimant's property when the property was under the care and control of defendant at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing) property room on November 29, 1994.
This claim was scheduled for trial on July 25, 2000 at Sing Sing. When the claim was called for trial, claimant informed the Court that the legal documents he needed to prove his claim did not arrive with him when he was transferred from Elmira Correctional Facility (hereinafter Elmira) to Sing Sing for trial. Claimant stated that the property he packed to be transported with him did not arrive. The Court made an inquiry and was advised that claimant's property had not arrived from Elmira. The Court, therefore, adjourned the trial for two weeks to allow claimant's property to catch up with him.

When the trial reconvened on August 10, 2000 at Sing Sing, claimant advised the Court that he still had not received his property. He further stated that he was informed the property was lost. In the absence of any real possible benefit to claimant from an additional adjournment, the Court denied claimant's request for same.

Prior to any testimony being given at trial, the State moved to dismiss the claim based upon the defense raised, in the State's Verified Answer, that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the claim based upon the fact claimant served the claim by regular mail in violation of the Court of Claims Act. Claimant stated that he requested that the claim be served upon the Attorney General by certified mail, return receipt requested and that if it was not done, it was because of the correctional facility's negligence in improperly mailing the claim. However, claimant was unable to produce any inmate account statement or disbursement request to establish that he requested the claim be served by certified mail, return receipt requested. The Court reserved decision on the State's motion and the claimant presented his case.

Claimant stated that during a facility wide search, items of his property were confiscated by Sergeant Cooper; that the books were taken to the facility property room and that the property was lost. On cross-examination, claimant stated that Sergeant Cooper confiscated 26 of his books.

Claimant, at trial, did not submit any documentary evidence to establish he owned and possessed the books on the date he alleges Sergeant Cooper confiscated them. As a result, the Court finds that claimant has not sustained his burden of proof in this matter.

At the close of claimant's case, the State moved to dismiss based upon the failure of claimant to establish a prima facie claim for bailment (
Claflin v Meyer, 75 NY 260; Northbrook Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v D.J.L. Warehouse Corp., 160 AD2d 917; Harrison v State of New York, Claim No. 90980, filed 6/11/97, Benza, J.). The Court now grants the motion and the claim is dismissed. All other motions, on which the Court reserved decision, are now denied. The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

August 16, 2000
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims