Claimant seeks damages for personal property which the State allegedly failed
to return to him while he was incarcerated at Riverview Correctional Facility.
Claimant testified that on December 31, 1998, his property was packed by a
correction officer, because he was being sent to the Special Housing Unit
(hereinafter SHU). Claimant did not have an opportunity to inventory his
property and, therefore, refused to sign the
On January 22, 1999, claimant was transferred to Gouverneur Correctional
Facility (hereinafter referred to as Gouverneur) and his property was packed
and/or inventoried by Correction Officer (hereinafter C.O.) Cronkrite.
At that time, claimant had an opportunity to view his property while it was
being checked. It was then that he noted certain items were missing and filed
an administrative claim for those items on January 29,
His administrative claim was denied. Claimant served a notice of intention to
file a claim upon the attorney general on March 29, 1999. Claimant thereafter
timely commenced this action within two years of the date of
(Court of Claims Act §10).
On cross-examination, claimant acknowledged that his original administrative
claims differed from the items he alleges were missing in this claim. He noted
that he had not had access to his property before filing his administrative
claims. Claimant also explained that some items he included in his claim were
not listed on Exhibit 1 or found in mailroom records because other inmates gave
the items to him.
The State called C.O. Cronkrite who said he packed all of claimant's available
property on January 22, 1999, and that claimant inventoried the property at that
To establish a prima facie case of negligence in a bailment transaction,
claimant must show that his property was deposited with the defendant and the
defendant failed to return it (
Weinberg v D-M Rest Corp.,
60 AD2d 550). Once claimant meets his burden,
defendant must come forward with proof explaining the loss (Matter of
Terranova v State of New York,
111 Misc 2d 1089). The measure of recovery
for the loss of bailed property is fair market value, which can be established
by evidence of the original purchase price less a reasonable rate of
depreciation (Phillips v Catania,
155 AD2d 866; Schaffner v Pierce,
75 Misc 2d 21, 24).
Based upon the testimony and exhibits, to the extent legible, the Court finds
that claimant has established that he had his property packed and deposited with
the defendant on December 31, 1998 and the following items were missing on
January 22, 1999:
two hairbrushes, one pair of Timberlin [sic] boots, one lamp,
four items of lotion/aftershave, four pencils, eight pens,
one pillowcase, one electric razor, one missing slipper,
one pair sneakers, one tape cassette, one sound design tape
player, one towel.
Claimant did not establish the fair market value of the hair brushes, lamp,
lotion/aftershave, pencils, pens, pillowcase, electric razor, slipper, tape
cassette, or towel, as a result, the Court makes no award for these items. The
Court finds based upon the testimony and Exhibit A, and reasonable depreciation,
that the value of the one-year-old Timberlin [sic] boots is $40, the
two-year-old Sound Design AM-FM tape player is $25, and the New Balance sneakers
are valued at $15.
ACCORDINGLY, claimant is awarded $80.00 for his lost property with interest
from January 22, 1999 to July 22, 1999, and then from January 3, 2001 to the
date of the decision and thereafter to the date of entry of judgment, and it
ORDERED, that to the extent claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered
pursuant to Court of Claims Act 11-a(2). All motions not previously addressed
are DENIED. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.