New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

KELLY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-029-011, Claim No. 94305


Prisoner - alleged medical malpractice. No proof treatment was improper or delayed.

No liability.

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:
Larry KellyPro 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 18, 2000
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


pro se prisoner claim alleges that defendant's medical personnel at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing) rendered negligent medical treatment to claimant. The trial of this claim was held at Sing Sing on August 10, 2000.
Claimant testified that on May 23, 1996 he was injured while working at the Sing Sing commissary when a metal hand truck fell and struck him on the head. Claimant stated that his supervisor directed him to go to the facility clinic, where he was given ice and Tylenol and was told to go back to work. Claimant testified that since the date of this incident he has been going to sick call complaining of headaches. Upon inquiry from the Court, claimant stated that he does not know the cause of his headaches because he has never been seen by a doctor regarding his complaints.

The Court notes that claimant has not asserted a cause of action asserting negligence by the State for his initial injury by the hand truck. Rather, claimant has chosen to seek recovery for alleged negligent medical care.

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, supra, mot for 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. His complaint relates to the
adequacy of the medical treatment he received, which is not "readily determinable by this Court". As a result, the burden was on claimant to establish that the care and treatment afforded him by the State at the correctional facility constituted a deviation from the applicable standard of care. This requires proof that the medical personnel at Sing Sing either did not possess the knowledge and skill ordinarily possessed by practitioners in the field, or did not use reasonable care in the application of such knowledge or skill (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 (the failure to adequately treat his injury) 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). As this is a medical malpractice action alleging improper treatment, expert medical testimony is required (Morgan v State of New York, 40 AD2d 891; see also, Macey v Hassam, 97 AD2d 919). Based upon claimant's own testimony, the Court finds that no unreasonable delay in treatment occurred. Claimant did not present any expert testimony, nor did he provide any credible evidence that the medical treatment he received: (a) was not proper, (b) was unreasonably delayed, or (c) that any perceived delay that may have occurred exacerbated his condition. Thus, the Court finds that no prima facie case for medical malpractice has been established by claimant.
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, upon which decision was reserved, is now granted and the claim is hereby dismissed. The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

August 18, 2000
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims