New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SANDERS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-010-035, Claim No. 104239


Synopsis


Claimant alleged that defendant was responsible for his attack by another inmate. The Court found that claimant failed to establish any basis for finding defendant liable for the alleged attack.


Case Information

UID:
2002-010-035
Claimant(s):
JAMES SANDERS
Claimant short name:
SANDERS
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
104239
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Terry Jane Ruderman
Claimant's attorney:
JAMES SANDERSPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 8, 2002
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant seeks damages for injuries he allegedly sustained during his incarceration at Sing Sing Correctional Facility ("Sing Sing"). The claim was heard in a unified trial.
Claimant
testified that on April 13, 2001, he was assaulted on housing block B, U gallery by another inmate and that the correction officer on duty did not assist claimant.
It is well settled that the State is required to use reasonable care to protect the inmates of its correctional facilities from foreseeable risk of harm (
see, Flaherty v State of New York, 296 NY 342; Dizak v State of New York, 124 AD2d 329; Sebastiano v State of New York, 112 AD2d 562). Foreseeable risk of harm includes the risk of attack by other prisoners (see, Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833). However, "[t]he State is not an insurer of inmate safety; its duty is to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable attacks by other inmates" (Padgett v State of New York, 163 AD2d 914). The mere occurrence of an unprovoked, unexplained attack by a fellow inmate, with whom claimant had no prior contact, does not give rise to an inference of negligence, absent a showing that prison officials had notice of a foreseeable dangerous situation (see, Stanley v State of New York, 239 AD2d 700; Roudette v State of New York, 224 AD2d 808; Leibach v State of New York, 215 AD2d 978; Padgett v State of New York, supra). Nor does the mere fact that a correction officer may not have been present when an assault occurred give rise to an inference of negligence, absent a showing that prison officials had notice of a foreseeable dangerous situation (see, Sanchez v State of New York, 288 AD2d 647, 649; Colon v State of New York, 209 AD2d 842, 844).
To establish liability in an inmate assault case, claimant must demonstrate one of the following: (1) the State knew that claimant was at risk of being assaulted and yet failed to provide claimant with reasonable protection (
see Sebastiano v State of New York, supra); (2) the assailant was particularly known to the State to be prone to perpetrating such an assault and the State did not take proper precautionary measures (see, Wilson v State of New York, 36 AD2d 559); or (3) the State had ample notice and opportunity to intervene but did not act (see, Huertas v State of New York, 84 AD2d 650).
Claimant did not report the incident at the time of its alleged occurrence and there is no record of the alleged incident. Nor is the alleged assailant on claimant's enemies list. Upon consideration of all the evidence, the Court finds that
claimant has failed to establish any basis for finding defendant liable for the alleged attack.
ACCORDINGLY, LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED DISMISSING CLAIM NO. 104239.

August 8, 2002
White Plains, New York

HON. TERRY JANE RUDERMAN
Judge of the Court of Claims