New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ALFORD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-029-015, Claim No. 95694


Prisoner–Assault by fellow inmate–claimant failed to establish that he was a known risk and the State failed to provide reasonable protection, that the State had notice that the assailant was dangerous and refused to take the proper precautions, or that the State had ample notice and the latitude to mediate and failed to act. No liability–claim dismissed.

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

Signature date:
August 28, 2000
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


pro se, seeks to recover damages based upon the alleged negligence of the defendant. The claim alleges that on December 30, 1996, while incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing), claimant was stabbed by another inmate. Claimant alleges that the State was negligent in failing to provide adequate supervision to prevent the attack. The trial of this claim was held on August 17, 2000 at Sing Sing.
Claimant testified that on the afternoon of December 30, 1996, while he was an inmate porter at Sing Sing, he was let out of his cell to get cleaning supplies. He alleges that there were no supplies in the area where they were supposed to be kept so he returned to his cell, where he discovered the gate was locked. He then left his cell area in search of the correction officer on duty to open the cell. Claimant stated that, as he passed another inmate on the gallery, the inmate stabbed him twice. Claimant further stated that after the assault, he ran down the stairs to an area known as "the flats" where he reported the attack to a C.O. This C.O. took him to a "main area of the flats" (Court's trial notes) where he was handcuffed and taken to the infirmary. Claimant testified that while in the infirmary, he was interviewed by a sergeant, and after treatment (see Exhibit 2), was escorted to Involuntary Protective Custody where he was shown pictures of inmates. Claimant stated that he identified his assailant. Claimant testified that, to his belief, when correction officers searched his attacker, a knife was found in his possession. However, no evidence in support of his "belief" was submitted.

Claimant asserts that a C.O. should be on the gallery at all times and that, at the time he was assaulted, there was no officer present. He further asserted his belief that a C.O. should be aware of an inmate's movements at all times. Claimant asserts that if the C.O. has been at his post he would not have been stabbed.

Despite claimant's assertion that the correction officers at Sing Sing did not follow proper State guidelines for safety at the facility on December 30, 1996, claimant submitted no specific rule or regulation which he asserts was violated. Further, even if the C.O. was absent from his post (as asserted by claimant), there was no evidence that such absence was causally related to the attack. Simply, the Court is not persuaded that the presence of a C.O. at the end of the gallery would have prevented this assault.

While the State must provide inmates reasonable protection against foreseeable risks of attack by other inmates
(Blake v State of New York, 259 AD2d 878; Sebastiano v State of New York, 112 AD2d 562), the State is not an insurer of the safety of inmates, and the fact that an assault occurs does not give rise to the inference of negligence (Sebastiano v State of New York, supra).
In order to establish liability on behalf of the State, an inmate claimant must allege and prove one of the following grounds: (1) the victim was a known risk and the State failed to provide reasonable protection (
see, Sebastiano v State of New York, supra); (2) the State had notice that the assailant was dangerous and refused to take the proper precautions (see, Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833; Wilson v State of New York, 36 AD2d 559); or (3) the State had ample notice and the latitude to mediate and failed to act (see, Huertas v State of New York, 84 AD2d 650).
Claimant offered no proof that he was a known risk, nor did he present any evidence that his assailant was a known dangerous prisoner, thereby placing the State on notice of any increased likelihood of assault. The record fails to establish any motive for the assault, or any indication that claimant or his assailant ever engaged in violent attacks or other disruptive conduct while incarcerated. Claimant also failed to establish that the State had notice that the attack would occur or was likely to occur.

Under the factual circumstances of the present case, liability against the State cannot be found. Despite the unwarranted and vicious assault upon the claimant, the proof offered at trial demonstrates none of the grounds necessary for a finding of liability involving an assault by one inmate upon another inmate in a State correctional institution. Unremitting supervision of inmates is not required (
Colon v State of New York, 209 AD2d 842).
Based upon the evidence presented, we find and conclude that while claimant was assaulted and sustained various injuries, he has failed to establish, by a preponderance of the credible evidence, that the State was negligent in failing to properly supervise the inmates.
Therefore, based upon the foregoing, the claim is dismissed. The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

August 28, 2000
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims