Claimant, Ernest West, an inmate appearing
, alleges that items of his personal property were lost due to the
negligence and deliberate indifference of the State of New York while said
property was in the custody of employees of the Department of Correctional
Services at Eastern Correctional Facility (hereinafter "Facility"). The trial
of this Claim was held at the Elmira Correctional Facility on May 29,
Claimant testified at trial that on July 31, 1997 he was transferred from the
Facility to the Bergen County Correctional Facility in Hackensack, New Jersey
for various New Jersey court proceedings. Apparently Claimant remained in
Bergen County until November 6, 1997. On that date Claimant was returned to
Eastern Correctional Facility and requested that his eight bags of personal
property be returned. These eight bags had previously been packed and stored at
the facility prior to Claimant's departure to Bergen County. When Claimant, on
or about November 6, 1997, was taken to unpack and obtain his property he
learned that the property storage area in the basement of said Facility had
sustained water damage. The correction officers at the Facility unpacked and
inventoried his personal property and Claimant alleges he lost among other
things various legal documents including two trial transcripts, approximately
600 pages each, with associated legal papers; various items of clothing; some
personal cosmetics; a beard trimmer/clipper; and a radio. Claimant testified
that while he was upset at the loss, he was assured that all property would be
tracked down and returned to him. He waited several days and received nothing.
Consequently, this timely Claim ensued.
On cross-examination Claimant acknowledged he had no receipts of purchases for
any of the items nor did he have any I-64s. Claimant testified that he had
previously submitted all of these items to the Attorney General in response to
various discovery demands. However, the Attorney General's file and the Court's
files show that no such discovery demands were received. As such Claimant
receipts or I-64s associated with this Claim have either been lost, or do not
To establish a prima facie case of negligence in a bailment transaction, a
claimant must show that his property was deposited with the defendant and that
the latter failed to return it.
(Weinberg v D-M Rest. Corp.,
60 AD2d 550).
of ownership - receipts or I-64s - of the items Claimant possessed on or about
July 31, 1997, or proof of the items returned to him on or about November 6,
1997, the Court cannot determine what, if any, of Claimant's property was
actually lost while in the custody of the Facility. Consequently, Claimant has
failed to meet his burden of proof, with any competent evidence, regarding the
items lost or the damages associated therewith. Consequently, the State's
motion to dismiss, upon which the Court previously reserved at trial, is now
GRANTED and Claim No. 97631 is hereby DISMISSED.
All other motions on which the Court may have previously reserved or which were
not previously determined, are hereby denied.
ENTER JUDGMENT ACCORDINGLY.