New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

McCARTHY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-028-0002, Claim No. 100468


Synopsis


Bailment - Inmate claim is granted in part and damages of $52.00 awarded for eyeglasses and underwear not returned following hospital admission.


Case Information

UID:
2001-028-0002
Claimant(s):
SAMUEL McCARTHY
Claimant short name:
McCARTHY
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
100468
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RICHARD E. SISE
Claimant's attorney:
SAMUEL McCARTHY, pro se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: Kevan J. Acton, Esq. Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 19, 2001
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
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 entirety.[1]
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).
In the 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 claimant's losses.
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 these items.
Claimant is awarded the sum of $52.00 with interest from April 29, 1999.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.


January 19, 2001
Albany, New York

HON. RICHARD E. SISE
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]The Claim identified the lost property as eyeglasses and personal property. At the trial, claimant testified the personal property included long underwear, cosmetic and toiletry items.