Claimant seeks damages from the State of New York for negligence in failing to
provide claimant with the "minimal civilized measures [sic] of lifes [sic]
necessities, (which is water)."
The incident in question occurred on July 17, 1997, at approximately 2:30 p.m.
Claimant, an inmate at Riverview Correctional Facility, was on keep-lock status
and was having his hour of daily recreation in an outside recreation yard.
Claimant testified that he was doing sit-ups, and because it was hot, he asked
Correction Officer LaForce if he could get a drink. The officer told him he
could not. Claimant asked the officer if he could use the bathroom, but the
officer again refused his request. Claimant then rested for a period of time,
but returned to doing his sit-ups and consequently fainted a short time later.
Claimant was taken to the infirmary on a stretcher. Claimant testified that he
had bumped his head when he fell, and as a result he had lost sleep and had
continuing headaches after this incident for approximately two weeks.
Claimant's medical records were received into evidence which confirm he was
transported to the infirmary on July 17, 1997. The records show he was treated
and discharged later that day.
Claimant called Officer LaForce on his direct case. Officer LaForce testified
that he was alone on duty for the keep-lock recreation period that day. The
officer acknowledged that he had denied claimant access to water or the bathroom
during that period because of the regulations restricting inmates on keep-lock
status from traveling through the facility without an escort, Officer LaForce
said he could not let claimant go for a drink or to the bathroom on his own.
Officer LaForce did not recall claimant ever telling him that he did not feel
well, nor did claimant explain that his health was the motive for his request to
get a drink of water or to use the bathroom.
On cross-examination, Officer LaForce also indicated that inmates are aware of
the fact that they are restricted in their movements while on keep-lock status,
and that they need to be prepared for their hour of recreation. This means that
all necessities, such as bathroom use, should have been taken care of prior to
attending recreation. Officer LaForce recalled that claimant was vigorously
doing sit-ups that afternoon prior to his fainting.
The State owes inmates in its correctional facilities a duty of reasonable care
to protect them from injury (
Condon v State of New York,
193 AD2d 874; Casella v State of New York,
121 AD2d 495). The State, however, is not an insurer of the safety of
inmates, and the fact that an injury has been incurred does not, by itself,
establish liability (Killeen v State of New York,
66 NY2d 850; Hirsh v
State of New York,
8 NY2d 125). There must be some showing that the State
breached its duty of care to the claimant and what is reasonable care is
commensurate with the reasonable probability of injury (Palsgraf v Long Is.
248 NY 339; Eackles v Natl. R.R. Passenger Corp.,
691; Bixby v Eddy,
167 AD2d 51; PJI 3d 2:10 at 183-184 ). In other
words, the State is not obligated to protect an inmate from engaging in conduct
which causes injury to himself, where there was no reason for the State to know
that the inmate would engage in such conduct (Compare, Killeen v State of New
66 NY2d 850, 851-852; Dunham v Village of Canisteo,
Here, claimant's own behavior caused his injury. Claimant chose to exercise
vigorously on a very hot day. When he began to feel ill, he did not advise the
officer on duty of his illness, but instead requested water and bathroom use
when he knew or should have known such activities were restricted during
keep-lock recreation. Failing to heed his physical warnings, claimant proceeded
to exacerbate the situation by returning to vigorous activity, with full
knowledge that he would have to wait for a drink or bathroom use. There was no
negligence on the part of the State. Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim
made after the close of claimant's case is now granted. The claim is
The claim is hereby DISMISSED.