New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CAMPOVERDE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-019-011, Claim No. 98067


Claimant failed to submit any proof of improper supervision and failed to establish a prima facie case of medical malpractice. 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:
Defendant's attorney:
BY: Joseph F. Romani, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 22, 2001

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Claimant, a
pro se inmate, alleges that he was a victim of an assault resulting from the negligent supervision of inmates at the Southport Correctional Facility (hereinafter "Southport") and received inadequate medical treatment thereafter. The trial of this Claim took place on May 15, 2001, at the Elmira Correctional Facility.

Claimant testified that on March 6, 1998, at approximately 5:30 p.m., he was performing his duties as a porter in C-Block. He was collecting meal trays for the day and alleges that a gate in C-Block was left open allowing Claimant to be attacked by an unknown assailant. Claimant testified that he only saw out of the corner of his eye the individual who slashed the left side of his face. Claimant then went to the intercom called for a guard and reported his injury. Claimant was then told to return to his cell for lock down and received medical attention immediately. Claimant acknowledged on cross-examination that he was unable to identify his assailant and had stated to a Correction Officer that "
somebody cut me" (emphasis added).[1]

The State called Sergeant Thomas Decker who was the supervisor of C-Block at Southport on March 6, 1998. Sergeant Decker testified that Claimant told him that he had fallen and hurt himself in his cell. However, the witness testified that the wound appeared to him to be a razor cut and that he specifically asked Claimant if he had been cut by a razor. According to Sergeant Decker, Claimant insisted that he had sustained the injury in a fall. It was Sergeant Decker's opinion that the only way Claimant could have been cut would have been through one of the meal slots of the cells contained in this Block while Claimant was collecting meal trays. Sergeant Decker further testified that there had been no prior reports of stabbings or slashings in this particular cell block and Southport officials were not aware of any particular inmate that posed a particular risk or threat of danger to staff or other inmates within the cell block.

It is well-settled that the State is not an insurer of the safety of inmates, although it must provide reasonable protection against foreseeable risks of attack by other inmates. (
Pierrelouis v State of New York, 255 AD2d 824). Nevertheless, the mere occurrence of an assault does not establish negligence. (Colon v State of New York, 209 AD2d 842). The State will be liable for an inmate on inmate assault only in the event of one of the following: (1) the victim is a known risk and the State failed to provide reasonable protection; (2) the State had notice that the assailant was particularly prone to perpetuating such an assault and failed to take proper precautionary measures; or (3) the State had ample notice and opportunity to intervene and failed to do so. (Sebastiano v State of New York, 112 AD2d 562; Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833; Schittino v State of New York, 262 AD2d 824, lv denied 94 NY2d 752). Here, Claimant was unable to identify his attacker and offered no evidence that he was a known risk himself. Moreover, unremitting supervision is unnecessary and, as such, absent any evidence of improper supervision, an assault upon an inmate by an unknown assailant does not establish a breach of any duty by the State owing to Claimant. Consequently, the Court finds from a review of the evidence and testimony at trial that Claimant has failed to submit any proof of improper supervision in this instance.

Finally, in the absence of any testimony from a medical expert, Claimant has failed to establish that the inadequate medical treatment allegedly rendered amounts to medical malpractice.
(Macey v Hassam, 97 AD2d 919). To the contrary, the Court finds that immediately after the attack, Claimant received appropriate and competent medical attention.

Based on the foregoing, Claim No. 98067 is hereby DISMISSED.


June 22, 2001
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the Court's trial notes.