Timothy Williams, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim Number 101024 that he
had been denied reasonable and adequate medical care throughout his
incarceration. Trial of the matter was held at Sing Sing Correctional Facility
(hereafter Sing Sing) on December 7, 2001.
Claimant testified that as a result of a prison disturbance in 1983, he
suffered injuries to his back, right ankle, and hip. He claims the Defendant's
agents demonstrated indifference to his medical needs in failing to treat him
immediately, and in failure to order x-rays, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test
(MRI) and other diagnostic tools and ameliorative care. He stated "I just can
walk....some mornings I can't move at
He testified that "...a day or two..." after the original injury in 1983, he saw
a doctor, and was given "ice for his ankle and ...[his] back...and some pain
pills..." About a month later he got x-rays.
According to the exhibits Claimant submitted in evidence, he has complained of
chronic pain in his back for a long time, and has been seen by medical personnel
with some regularity, and received medication of various kinds for pain.
[Claimant's Exhibits "1", "2" and "3"]. Although he denied it during his
testimony, the documentation also seems to indicate that there was some level of
non-compliance with recommended physical therapy. According to a letter to the
Claimant from the Regional Medical Director, dated July 14, 2000, the various
tests "...did not disclose any neurologic changes and the orthopedic consultant
noted that you had no focal neurologic signs. The consultant also noted in his
report that you had not been compliant with the exercise program arranged for
your performance at the facility. His final conclusion was that there was no
indication for surgery....There are no other avenues open to you at this time.
I recommend you continue to bring your problems to the medical staff and try to
be compliant with their recommendations." [Claimant's Exhibit "2"]. More recent
correspondence to Claimant from New York State Department of Correctional
Services (DOCS) personnel again urges cooperation. [Claimant's Exhibit "2",
Letter from Deputy Commissioner dated June 2, 2001]. Other than physical
therapy and medication for pain, there does not seem to be an indication of any
further course of treatment, including surgery. It does appear, however, that
the Claimant has attempted repeatedly to get more treatment.
No other witnesses testified.
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...injuries' (
Parker v State of New York
, 242 AD2d 785, 786...)." Auger v State of
, 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
, 40 NY2d 804 (1976). A medical expert's testimony is necessary to
establish, at a minimum, the standard of care. Spensieri v Lasky
NY2d 231 (1999).
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 Med. 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 in support
of any claim of malpractice. 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.
There is no medical evidence on any medical issue and thus no proof that
accepted standards of care were not met. Accordingly, the claim of medical
malpractice must be dismissed.
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- Cornell Med. Center
Kagan v State of New York
. 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 Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to establish a
case, upon which decision was reserved at the time of trial,
is hereby granted, and Claim Number 101024 is dismissed in its
Let Judgment be entered accordingly.