New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

COLLINS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-016-057, Claim No. 98484


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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Clifford Collins
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Barry Kaufman, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 25, 2001
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

This is the claim of Clifford Collins, in which he alleges that because of defendant's negligence, he was assaulted by another inmate or inmates at Mid-Orange Correctional Facility. He also asserts that defendant was negligent in connection with the loss of a bag of his personal property which was sent to him upon his transfer to Otisville Correctional Facility. The claim was tried at Mid-Orange, where Collins testified on his own behalf. Defendant called no witnesses.

Collins testified that on the afternoon of July 13, 1997, he left his housing unit to go to the law library where he worked as a clerk. As he proceeded down the walkway, he encountered a large group of inmates, and as they passed by, he felt a sharp sting to his face. Claimant explained that the group kept moving and on seeing blood streaming down his face, he realized that he had been cut. He proceeded to the law library, where a correction officer sent him to the infirmary. Collins stated that he was never able to identify his assailant or assailants. He also testified that he had no enemies prior to the incident, which appears to be borne out by his "enemy list." See defendant's exhibit A.

Collins recalled that after the incident, he was put in involuntary protective custody and then transferred to Otisville Correctional Facility. He had a total of fifteen bags of property to be transferred. Since only four can be transported with an inmate, eleven were sent by U.S. mail, for which Collins was required to pay the postage. See Department of Correctional Services Directive No. 4917, claimant's exhibit 2. Collins testified that one of the eleven bags failed to arrive. According to claimant, that bag contained extensive legal documents, such as trial transcripts and briefs, educational records such as a diploma and certificates of program participation. See claimant's exhibit 1.
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Liability for an inmate-on-inmate assault may be based upon one of the following three grounds: (i) The victim is a known risk and the State failed to provide reasonable protection (
Sebastiano v State of New York, 112 AD2d 562, 491 NYS2d 499 [3d Dept 1985]); (ii) the State had notice that the assailants were particularly prone to perpetrating such an assault and failed to take proper precautionary measures (Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833, 630 NYS2d 407 [3d Dept 1995]); or (iii) the State had ample notice and opportunity to intervene and failed to do so (Schittino v State of New York, 262 AD2d 824, 692 NYS2d 760 [3d Dept 1999]).
In this case, there was no evidence that Collins was a known risk. In fact, he testified that he had no enemies prior to the assault. Nor was there any evidence that his assailant or assailants, whom he could not identify, were particularly prone to perpetrating assaults. As to the opportunity to intervene, Collins presented no evidence in this regard. As to his general contention that security was inadequate, he presented no evidence that any particular rules or regulations were violated. In short, Collins failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the assault could have been prevented or that defendant failed to take an opportunity to intervene.

As to Collins' lost property, he introduced no I-64 form or other documentary evidence to show that he did in fact possess such property. Moreover, even assuming that he did own such items, scant evidence was provided as to the nature of the loss. Collins testified that he did not receive one of the eleven bags sent to him. His claim states that three of the eleven bags to be sent "were mailed out after $16.74 was deducted from [claimant's] account. Only two . . . reached Otisville." The remaining eight bags to be sent "were mailed out after Claimant paid $42.68. The eight . . . bags reached their destination without any further complications." Claim, ¶13. The claim thus suggests that the bags were lost after having been placed in the custody of the U.S. Postal Service which eschewed responsibility for the loss after an investigation according to claimant. Once inmate property is delivered to the U.S. Postal Service for mailing, "beyond that point, [the facility is] no longer responsible" for any loss.
Odom v State of New York, Ct Cl filed 8/14/2000 at p.2, Ruderman, J. (unreported, claim no. 93187).
In view of the foregoing, Clifford Collins has failed to prove his case by a preponderance of the evidence and IT IS ORDERED that claim no. 98484 is dismissed.


July 25, 2001
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims