New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SMALLS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-010-058, Claim No. 96875


Synopsis


Inmate on inmate assault. No proof establishing defendant's liability.

Case Information

UID:
2001-010-058
Claimant(s):
ANTHONY SMALLS
Claimant short name:
SMALLS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
96875
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Terry Jane Ruderman
Claimant's attorney:
ANTHONY SMALLSPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 9, 2001
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant, an inmate proceeding
pro se, seeks damages for personal injuries that he sustained on July 21, 1997, when he was allegedly assaulted by another inmate at Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
Claimant testified that he was attacked from behind by an unknown assailant while returning from the gym in the A block gallery. Prior to this incident, claimant had been attacked by another unknown assailant in the same gallery. After the first attack, he was placed in involuntary protective custody for ninety-one days and then was returned to general population. He contends that he did not pursue any claims following the first attack because he did not know his assailant's identity. According to claimant, the attack giving rise to this claim occurred two days after his return to general population.

The mere occurrence of an unprovoked, unexplained attack by another inmate, with whom claimant had no prior confrontations, does not give rise to an inference of negligence, absent a showing that prison officials had notice of a foreseeably dangerous situation (
see, Stanley v State of New York, 239 AD2d 700; Roudette v State of New York, 224 AD2d 808; Padgett v State of New York; 163 AD2d 914). Further, while the State is required to use reasonable care to protect the inmates of its correctional facilities from the foreseeable risks of harm (see, Flaherty v State of New York, 296 NY 342; Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833; Dizak v State of New York, 124 AD2d 329; Sebastiano v State of New York, 112AD2d 562), "[t]he State is not an insurer of inmate safety" (see, Padgett v State of New York, supra; Leibach v State of New York, 215 AD2d 978).
To establish liability, claimant must demonstrate one of the following (1) the State knew that claimant was at risk of being assaulted and yet failed to provide claimant with reasonable protection (
see Sebastiano v State of New York, supra); (2) the assailant was particularly known to the State to be prone to perpetrating such an assault and the State did not take proper precautionary measures (see, Wilson vState of New York, 36 AD2d 559); or (3) the State had ample notice and opportunity to intervene but did not act (see, Huertas v State of New York, 84 AD2d 650). Claimant failed to establish any basis for finding defendant liable for the attack. Accordingly, defendant's motion to dismiss, upon which decision was reserved, is GRANTED.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED DISMISSING CLAIM NO. 96875.


August 9, 2001
White Plains, New York

HON. TERRY JANE RUDERMAN
Judge of the Court of Claims