This bailment claim arose in April 1999 when claimant was taken ill and
transported from Greene Correctional Facility to the Albany Medical Center
Hospital. According to the claim, when claimant was released from the hospital
he discovered that his property was missing in its
He seeks the sum of $250.00 as compensation for his eyeglasses and personal
property. A bailment exists when property is delivered from one person (the
bailor) to another (the bailee) "for a particular purpose under an express or
implied contract with the understanding that it shall be redelivered to the
person delivering it, or kept until he reclaims it after fulfilment of the
purpose for which it was delivered" (9 NY Jur 2d, Bailments and Chattel Leases,
¶ 1, p 9).
A cause of action for bailment accrues "when the
bailor demands the property and the bailee refuses to deliver it" (Heede
Hoist and Machine Co., Inc. v Bayview Towers Apartments, Inc.
, 74 AD2d 598).
If the property is not returned or, where a demand is required, the bailee fails
to return it upon demand, the bailor has established a prima facie case based on
the presumption of negligence (9 NY Jur 2d, Bailments and Chattel Leases,
¶ 147, pp 177-178). The bailee must then rebut that presumption, if
possible, by showing that the loss was due to circumstances not within his
control or that it was damaged without his fault (id.
, ¶ 149, p 181;
Singer Co. v Stott & Davis Motor Express
, 79 AD2d 227).
instant case, claimant has established both that the missing property, which
included the specified items, was taken from him by correction officers prior
to his admission to the hospital and that upon his release from the hospital the
property was not returned to him. This is sufficient to establish a prima facie
case of negligence, and defendant presented no evidence suggesting that the loss
was not the fault of the State. Consequently, the State is liable for
To award compensation for these losses, the Court must
determine from the credible evidence presented at trial, the fair market value
of the missing property, which includes consideration of depreciation
(Schaffner v Pierce
, 75 Misc 2d 21, 24). Accordingly, the court awards
as follows: eyeglasses - $50.00 and long underwear $2.00.
As to the
toiletry and cosmetic items, claimant was unable to provide any estimation of
their value. Therefore, the Court declines to award even a nominal sum for
Claimant is awarded the sum of $52.00 with interest from
April 29, 1999.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.