The claimant, appearing
, seeks recovery from the defendant for damages which claimant
alleges were the result of negligent supervision of inmates by the Department of
Correctional Services. The trial of this claim was held on August 17, 2000 at
Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing).
At trial, claimant testified that on April 23, 1995 recreation was called at
approximately 9:15 a.m., at which time he was let out of his cell and he went to
take a shower. Claimant stated that while waiting in line for a shower, he was
attacked from behind and stabbed in the left shoulder by an inmate who, at that
time, was unknown to him. He further stated that he tried to elude his
assailant, but because he was bleeding profusely, he slipped on his own blood
which had accumulated on the floor, and his attacker stabbed him again.
Claimant asserted that no correction officer was present on the gallery at the
time of the assault and therefore, no help was available to him. He stated he
then went to a slop sink and washed his injury off prior to proceeding to the
C.O.'s office to report the attack to C.O. Aman. Claimant testified that C.O.
Aman called for assistance and another C.O. arrived to escort him to the Sing
Sing infirmary. He was then taken to St. Agnes Hospital. Claimant also stated
that, following his release from the hospital, he was interviewed by Lieutenant
Gibson, who inquired if claimant knew his attacker. Claimant's response was
that he did not. Claimant stated that he was then shown photographs of inmates
and he identified his assailant, Inmate Torres. Claimant further testified that
he was then placed in Involuntary Protective Custody (see Exhibit 1). Claimant
also stated that the weapon Torres used to stab him was a butter knife (see
photographs Exh. 3).
Claimant argues that he was attacked as a result of improper supervision of
inmates. In support of this theory, claimant asserts that (1) Torres was not
housed on "C" gallery and should not have been on the gallery without an officer
escorting him; (2) the State was negligent in not being aware that Torres had a
weapon; (3) the State was negligent in that a C.O. did not maintain constant
visual surveillance of the company because the C.O. was in the office and not on
the gallery at the time of the assault. Claimant asserts that if the officer
was at her post, the assault would not have taken place.
Despite claimant's assertion that the correction officers at Sing Sing did not
follow proper state guidelines for safety at the facility on April 23, 1995,
claimant submitted no specific rule or regulation which he asserts was violated.
Further, by claimant's own testimony, the inmate who engaged in the assault upon
claimant was unknown to him at the time, although he eventually learned his
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
, 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
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
, Sebastiano v State of New York
(2) the State had notice that the assailant was dangerous and refused to take
the proper precautions (see
, Littlejohn v State of New York
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 did not testify that there was animosity between him and
the attacker, and no evidence was presented to establish that the assailant was
a known dangerous prisoner. Claimant also failed to establish that the State
had notice that the attack would occur or was likely to
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 demonstrates none of the grounds necessary for a finding of
liability involving an assault by one inmate upon another in a State
correctional institution. Unremitting supervision of inmates is not required
Colon v State of New York
, 209 AD2d 842). Nothing presented to the Court
is sufficient to show that the presence of a C.O. at the end of the gallery
would have prevented this sudden and "unprovoked" attack.
As to the "unauthorized" presence of Inmate Torres, the documentary evidence
submitted by claimant includes a memorandum dated April 24, 1995 from Lt. Gibson
to Deputy Superintendent Greiner (Exh. 2) which states that an altercation
between claimant and Torres took place following an argument "over T.V.
programming". The document further states that the gallery doors were locked
prior to, during, and after the incident. There is no indication that Torres was
"out of place" on "C" gallery at that time. Thus, there is no basis upon which
this Court may conclude that Torres did not, in fact, belong on "C" gallery at
the time of the incident.
With regard to the weapon, we note that determinations whether or not to search
inmates with metal detectors constitute a procedure and exercise of discretion
which is beyond the pale of a Judge of the Court of Claims (
Bostic v State of New York
, Claim No. 83864, filed 3/6/95, Bell, J. affd
232 AD2d 837). Therefore, the failure to perform such search cannot create
liability in the absence of clear abuse of that discretion or other exigent
Based upon the evidence presented, we find and conclude that while claimant was
assaulted and sustained serious 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.