New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HALL v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-006-102231, Claim No. 102231


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2002-006-102231
Claimant(s):
STEPHANIE HALL, Individually and as M/N/G of THOMAS HALL, an Infant,
Claimant short name:
HALL
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
102231
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
EDGAR C. NeMOYER
Claimant's attorney:
CELLINO & BARNES, P.C.By: Michael J. Cooper, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
By: Gregory P. Miller, Esq.Assistant Attorney Genral
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 26, 2002
City:
Buffalo
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
In a decision dated February 19, 2002 and filed February 28, 2002 the court found the defendant liable for all injuries sustained by claimant, as a result of an incident occurring on November 30, 1999. Therefore, this aspect of the bifurcated trial related solely to the issue of damages.

This claim involved an altercation between claimant, Thomas Hall[1]
, and Kevin Knox, occurring on November 30, 1999 at the Educational Opportunity Center (Center) in Buffalo, New York. Both Mr. Hall and Mr. Knox were students at the Center, and 17 years old. During this altercation, claimant was slashed and cut on the left cheek by Mr. Knox with the blade of a box cutter.
After being cut, claimant was brought by ambulance to Sheehan Memorial Hospital, where his laceration was cleaned an sutured. The hospital records (Exhibit 20) indicate claimant was given a local anesthetic in the area of his laceration. The laceration was cleaned with a Betadine solution, and then sutured together in two layers. One layer of sutures closed the subcutaneous tissue, while 12 external sutures closed the outside of the wound. The claimant was instructed to return to the clinic in five days for removal of the sutures. Claimant was treated at the hospital for approximately three and one half hours.

Claimant, who is now 19 years old, testified the area of his laceration on his left cheek was swollen for approximately one- half to two months after the incident. He stated the laceration felt painful for approximately six months after the incident. Claimant testified that when he touches the scar he feels his upper lip tingle. However, there was no medical proof to explain the cause of this. According to claimant, he believes he has less self-esteem because of the scar on his left cheek. He stated he has been the subject of ridicule because of the scar. However, no proof was offered of specific instances where claimant was ridiculed. Claimant testified that after the incident, he was suspended from school, and did not return until about one and a half years later.

Claimant also has a significant scar on his lip. This is a vertical scar running the length of claimant's lip, from the base of his left nostril to the tip of his upper lip. Claimant testified he has had this scar since he was eight years old, when he ran into a parked car.

Claimant's mother, Stephanie Hall, testified she observed her son when he returned from the hospital on November 30, 1999. She stated his face was swollen around the laceration, and she noticed stitches in his cheek. Ms. Hall claimed she has told her son she does not like the scar, and wants it revised.

The court closely observed the well healed scar on claimant's left cheek. It appeared to be approximately one inch long and one-eighth inch wide. When the court observed claimant from a distance of approximately 20 feet, the left cheek scar was not visible to the court. However, the scar on claimant's lip was quite noticeable.

The court believes the scar on claimant's lip, from his accident at eight years of age, is a much more cosmetically significant disfigurement than claimant's left cheek scar, which is not that noticeable. Exhibits 21 and 22 are photographs of claimant's face and left cheek scar. They were taken in May 2000. The court has given little weight to these photographs in assessing the seriousness of the scar. They were taken a short time after the accident of November 30, 1999, before the healing process could fully evolve. Most importantly, the lighting in the photographs appears to be such as to enhance and overemphasize the appearance of the scar. The photographs depict claimant as a light skinned African American, while in person, his complexion is much darker.

Taking all of the foregoing factors into consideration, the court awards claimant $ 9,000.00, together with appropriate interest at the rate of 9% from February 19, 2002 (the date of the liability decision), for all past and future pain and suffering arising from the incident of November 30, 1999. No award is made for any past and future medical expenses or for damages to claimant, Stephanie Hall, individually, since there was no proof at trial for these items.

LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.


June 26, 2002
Buffalo, New York

HON. EDGAR C. NEMOYER
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]References to the claimant herein are to Thomas Hall unless otherwise noted.