New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

JENKINS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-011-100, Claim No. 102751


Claim for battery based upon allegation that Claimant was physically attached by correction officers is denied.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

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

Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
D. Jenkins, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Belinda A. Wagner, Esq.,Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 11, 2002
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

The claim sets forth a cause of action for battery based on an allegation that Claimant was

physically attacked by correction officers on May 1, 2000 at Upstate Correctional Facility.
The elements of a claim for battery are (1) bodily contact, which is (2) harmful or offensive and (3) made with intent (
Masters v Becker, 22 AD2d 118).
Claimant testified that at the time of the incident he was being moved from his cell. He maintains that he was standing inside the cell with his back to the closed door in accordance with the procedure. According to Claimant, when the cell door opened three correction officers rushed in and beat him up. Claimant suggests that the attack was in retaliation for his having filed complaints against the officers in the past.

The version of events offered by Defendant also involves correction officers employing force against Claimant but only for the purpose of restraining Claimant.

Justification is a defense to an action for battery (2 NY PJI 26 [Supp]). Justification in using physical force exists for a correction officer when an inmate resists or disobeys any lawful direction and it is necessary to maintain order or enforce observation of discipline (Penal Law §35.10[2]; Correction Law §137[5]). To establish the defense Defendant must demonstrate that the officer used objectively reasonable force (see,
Higgins v City of Oneonta, 208 AD2d 1067).
Correction Officer Spinner testified that on May 1, 2000 he was involved in moving Claimant to another cell. According to Officer Spinner handcuffs had been placed on Claimant when, through the cell window, he saw Claimant go into his property bag. He then directed Claimant to show his hands which he did. There was nothing in his hands. The officer then asked to have the cell door opened and as the door opened Claimant went back into his bag and came out with an orange pen. The officers rushed into the cell and wrestled Claimant to the ground where he was placed in restraints.

The testimony presents conflicting versions of what occurred. In Claimant's version the force used was unprovoked and constitutes a battery. In the version offered by Defendant force was used only to restrain Claimant and was reasonable under the circumstances. Liability, or the absence of it, depends on crediting one version rather than the other.

A videotape which shows the officers outside Claimant's cell and then entering the cell was reviewed by the court. On the videotape the officers can be seen standing outside the cell. At one point one of the officers directs Claimant, while the cell door is still closed, to show his hands. The officer then backs away from the window and just as the cell door opens he yells at Claimant and the three officers rush into the cell. Shouting and other noise can be heard coming from the cell but the interior of the cell cannot be seen.
The scene as shown on the videotape
is consistent with the version of events offered by Officer Spinner and therefore, the testimony of Officer Spinner is credited and the court finds that the force employed by correction officers was justified. Accordingly, the claim is dismissed.
The request by Claimant in his letters to the court following the close of the trial that the trial be reopened is denied.


January 11, 2002
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims