Lionel Williams, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim number 98394 that while
held on keeplock status at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereafter Sing Sing)
he was denied medical attention. Trial of this matter was held at Sing Sing on
August 14, 2001.
Claimant relied upon the factual allegations contained in his claim, as well as
his own testimony at trial. Claimant testified that in "February, 1998...[he]
signed up for sick call" and that he had "previously signed up for sick call"
and had gotten "no response."
He testified that he filed a grievance. Claimant produced a one page document
from the Inmate Grievance Resolution Committee dated April 9, 1998, referring to
"Grievance No. 26646/98".
The document indicates: "[g]rievant claims that he was not taken to sick call,
and was denied keeplock recreation. Once again, there are apparent
inconsistencies in Officer W. Perez's ‘to-from' response. C.O. Perez
stated: ‘I was told by another officer not to let keeplock inmate L.
Williams...out to recreation because there was an officer coming to get him for
sick call and he would be taken to rec when they were finished.' Current block
policy is that keeplock inmates are
to go to recreation yard to await seeing the nurse if they
signed up for sick call. Officer Perez needs to be reminded that his main
function is the care
, custody and control of inmates." (emphasis
) [Claimant's Exhibit "1", Inmate Grievance Resolution
Committee dated April 9, 1998].
The form indicates that the matter was to be forwarded to the Superintendent
for action. There was no indication either in the testimony, or as part of any
exhibit, that any action was taken. The Claimant testified on cross-examination
that this was the "only paper" he "ever received" concerning this
In his claim, Mr. Williams alleged that on January 13, 14,15,16,20, 1998 and
then again on March 24, 1998, he signed up for sick call and got a sick call
slip but Correction Officer Perez wouldn't let him out. [Claim No. 98394,
Paragraph 3]. On cross-examination, however, he confirmed that he was seen by
medical personnel on January 15, 1998. He also recalled receiving copies of a
response to an additional grievance he filed on January 20, 1998 numbered
26183-98, which appears to address the alleged omissions of January, 1998.
[Defendant's Exhibit "A", Inmate Grievance Committee Report (Superintendent);
dated February 12, 1998].
The Superintendent's portion of this grievance report denying the grievance
indicates: "[g]rievant said he put in sick call slips for 1/13, 1/14 and was
finally seen on 1/15....There is no sick call on Wednesdays, so he would not
have been...[seen] 1/14. There is no record of a slip for 1/13....Staff are
aware of the sick-call procedure. His medical needs are being addressed."[
Claimant's Ambulatory Health Record (hereafter AHR) for the period from January
15, 1998 through April 6, 1998 also reflects that Claimant was seen by medical
personnel on January 15, 16, 23 and 30, 1998. [Defendant's Exhibit "B",
Claimant's Ambulatory Health Record ]. It also confirms that he was seen on
March 23, 1998, with respect to receiving an inhaler, and was a "no show" on
March 24, 1998. Claimant was seen again on March 27, 1998, and April 1 and 6,
No testimony was offered concerning two other allegations in the claim. The
first concerned alleged failures on three dates during February and March, 1998
to be provided with a beverage with his food. The second allegation concerned an
alleged failure to provide Claimant with a prescription in or about March,
No testimony, other than claimant's, was offered.
It is "fundamental law that the State has a duty to provide reasonable and
adequate medical care to the inmates of its prisons," including proper diagnosis
Rivers v State of New York
, 159 AD2d 788, 789 (3d Dept. 1990), lv.
, 76 NY2d 701 (1990).
In a medical malpractice claim, the Claimant has the burden of proof and must
prove (1) a deviation or departure from accepted practice and (2) evidence that
such deviation was the proximate cause of the injury or other damage. A cause
of action is premised in medical malpractice when it is the medical treatment,
or the lack of it, that is in issue. A Claimant must establish that the medical
care giver either did not possess or did not use reasonable care or best
judgment in applying the knowledge and skill ordinarily possessed by
practitioners in the field. The "‘claimant must [demonstrate]... that the
physician deviated from accepted medical practice and that the alleged deviation
proximately caused his (or her) injuries' (
Parker v State of New York
, 242 AD2d 785, 786...)." Auger v State
263 AD2d 929, 931 (3d Dept. 1999). Without such medical proof, no viable claim
giving rise to liability on the part of the State can be sustained. Hale v
State of New York
, 53 AD2d 1025 (4th Dept. 1976), lv. denied
40 NY2d 804 (1976). A medical expert's testimony is necessary to establish, at a
minimum, the standard of care. Spensieri v Lasky
, 94 NY2d 231
If a claim can be read to allege simple negligence, or medical negligence, then
the alleged negligent omissions or acts by the State's employees can be readily
determined by a fact finder using common knowledge without the necessity of
Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center
, 114 AD2d 254, 256
(1st Dept. 1986). Similarly, the State may be found liable for ministerial
neglect if its employees fail to comply with an institution's own administrative
procedures and protocols for dispensing medical care to inmates. Kagan v
State of New York
, 221 AD2d 7,10 (2d Dept 1996).
In this case only the testimony of the Claimant has been presented to support
any claim of medical malpractice. Claimant's testimony was belied, to some
extent, by the medical records substantiating regular examinations by medical
personnel. There was no testimony to show that these visits did not provide
reasonable care, or even that Claimant suffered any damage. No competent medical
evidence was presented, through a treating physician or an expert witness whose
opinion was based upon the available medical records, to support the allegation
of medical malpractice.
Additionally, from this record there is no indication that the actions of
medical care givers amounted to simple negligence or ministerial neglect.
Coursen v New York Hospital
; Kagan v State of
. To the extent the claim can be read to
assert such theories, any cause of action for negligence or ministerial neglect
is also dismissed.
The other allegations, concerning alleged isolated failures to provide a
beverage and a prescription, respectively, were simply not established by a
preponderance of the evidence.
The Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to establish a
case, upon which decision was reserved on at the time of
trial, is hereby granted and Claim number 98394 is dismissed in its
The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.