Claimant is an inmate under the custody and control of the New York State
Department of Correctional Services and at all pertinent times herein he was
housed at the Auburn Correctional Facility (Auburn). He alleges a bailment in
Claimant alleges that on February 15, 1996, he was placed in the Special
Housing Unit (SHU) at Auburn after the disposition of a Tier III disciplinary
hearing. He states that his removal from his cell was immediate and his
personal property was packed by correction officers. Thus, on the day of
Claimant's transfer, he was summarily removed from his cell, and transferred to
the SHU. His personal property located in his cell was packed by correction
officers in his absence. He further states that he was never shown or provided
with any I-64 forms concerning his personal property.
One year later, on February 14, 1997, he was released from SHU and he requested
the return of his property. He states that his property consisted of some 22
bags and he itemizes the contents into some 12 categories, including trial
transcripts, various appellate briefs, typewriter ribbons, clothing, blankets,
food, etc. He has never seen his property since then. He claims $2,000,000 in
damages and $2,000,000 million in personal suffering.
It is, of course, Claimant's burden to prove his claim by a fair preponderance
of the creditable evidence. Generally, when a Claimant has established a
bailment, and where the Defendant was the bailee of his personal property, it is
obligated to exercise reasonable care for the property entrusted to it. When a
demand for return of the property is made and the bailee is unable to return it,
a presumption arises that the loss occurred through the negligence of the
Heede Hoist & Mach. Co. v Bayview Towers Apts.
, 74 AD2d
The measure of recovery where bailed property is not produced upon demand is
the fair market value of the property, which is the value of the original
purchase price less a reasonable rate of depreciation (
Phillips v Catania
, 155 AD2d 866; Schaffner v Pierce
, 75 Misc 2d
However, Claimant is unable to submit evidence or proof of the possession of
the specific items which he claims to be the basis of this bailment and has also
failed to prove the value of the items. There are no forms I-64 in evidence,
either preceding the Claimant's placement in SHU or subsequent to his release.
Thus there is no evidence, beyond Claimant's sole testimony, verifying precisely
what property, if any, was allegedly missing. Furthermore, there was no
evidence, beyond Claimant's unsupported and uncorroborated testimony as to the
value of the allegedly missing items. I am aware that Claimant has asserted
that all evidence supporting his claim has been taken or destroyed by the
Defendant through certain correction officers.
However, without competent proof of the possession and value of the purportedly
missing property, Claimant has failed to establish a
case. The claim must be and hereby is
All motions heretofore not ruled upon are denied.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.