New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CARAWAY V. THE STATE OF NEW YORK , #2002-019-014, Claim No. 96299


Claimant alleged negligent supervision resulted in two separate assaults by other inmates. Claim dismissed.

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:
Defendant's attorney:
BY: Joseph F. Romani, Assistant Attorney General,of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 11, 2002

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Claimant, Raynard Caraway, an inmate appearing
pro se, alleges he was injured as a result of an assault by another inmate due to the negligent supervision of the correction officers and employees at the Elmira Correctional Facility (hereinafter "Facility"). The trial of this Claim was held at the Facility on May 29, 2002.

Claimant testified that on June 9, 1995 at approximately 3:17 p.m. he was assaulted by an unknown assailant who severed a portion of his right ear, inflicted a six inch razor wound to his right bicep and various superficial wounds to the face and chest. Claimant testified this occurred when two cell blocks were passing through a walkway coming back from program. Claimant also alleges that on June 21, 1995 he was attacked a second time while on escort to the hospital and received a one-half inch razor wound to his right arm when the escort officer had left Claimant alone in the hallway of the hospital area. It was later determined that an inmate named Pitts and two others were responsible for the second assault.

On cross-examination Claimant acknowledged that with respect to the June 9, 1995 assault he was later charged with failing to report the injury. Claimant also acknowledged his assailant in the first incident was unknown. Claimant further stated on cross-examination that relative to the second incident which occurred June 21, 1995, that although he was familiar with Inmate Pitts, he had no fear of attack from him and had no prior controversy with Inmate Pitts.

The State called Sergeant Fernando Santiago, the correction officer who was on duty at the Facility on June 9, 1995 and he testified that at 3:20 p.m. he was called to G-Block in relation to a fight which resulted in an inmate getting cut. The Sergeant later learned that the injured inmate was the Claimant and escorted him to the hospital. He interviewed the Claimant who confirmed he had no idea who cut him. Claimant agreed to be placed in voluntary protective custody despite the fact the Facility never had any prior problems with the Claimant nor were they or Claimant aware of any known enemies or other inmates who may have had a vendetta against the Claimant.

The State also called Correction Officer Jim Sowers, who has been employed as a correction officer at the Facility for the past 20 years. Officer Sowers testified that on June 21, 1995 he was at the first floor of the hospital when a fight broke out between various inmates. He found a weapon on the floor but had no idea who was involved in the fight, nor did he have any contact with the Claimant. He was not aware of any prior problems between Claimant and any other inmates.

On cross-examination, however, Officer Sowers acknowledged that inmates in protective custody should not be left alone and that the Facility is obligated to respond and protect these inmates. Moreover, the Officer acknowledged that inmates in protective custody, such as the Claimant here, should not be left in a populated corridor without supervision.

1. June 9, 1995 assault
It is well-settled that the State is not an insurer of the safety of inmates, although it must provide reasonable protection against foreseeable risks of attack by other inmates. (
Pierrelouis v State of New York, 255 AD2d 824, 825). Nevertheless, the mere occurrence of an assault does not establish negligence. (Colon v State of New York, 209 AD2d 842, 843). The State will be liable for an inmate on inmate assault in the event of the following: (1) the victim is a known risk and the State failed to provide reasonable protection; (2) the State had notice that the assailant was particularly prone to perpetuating such an assault and failed to take proper precautionary measures; or (3) the State had ample notice and opportunity to intervene and failed to do so. (Sebastiano v State of New York, 112 AD2d 562; Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833; Schittino v State of New York, 262 AD2d 824, lv denied 94 NY2d 752). Here, Claimant was unable to identify his attacker in this June 9, 1995 assault and offered no evidence that he was a known risk himself at that time. In any event, unremitting supervision is unnecessary and, as such, absent any evidence of improper supervision, an assault upon an inmate by an unknown assailant does not establish a breach of any duty by the State owing to Claimant. (Colon v State of New York, 209 AD2d 842, 844). Consequently, the Court finds from a review of the evidence and testimony at trial that Claimant has failed to submit any proof of negligent supervision relative to the June 9, 1995 assault.

2. June 21, 1995 assault
Claimant's essential argument relative to the June 21, 1995 assault is that the Facility owed him a special duty to provide unremitting supervision based upon his protective custody status and that the Facility's act of leaving him unattended in the hospital corridor was a breach of that duty. General provisions governing inmates placed in either voluntary or involuntary protective custody are set forth in 7 NYCRR Part 330 which sets forth the minimum conditions of confinement for protective custody inmates addressing such issues as out-of-cell time, exercise, meals, religious programs, etc. With respect to the care and custody of such protective custody inmates, however, "[e]ach facility housing inmates in protective custody status shall promulgate rules and regulations for care and custody and submit them to the deputy commissioner for facility operations for review and approval." (7 NYCRR 330.6).

Here, Claimant did not introduce any evidence or testimony at trial relative to such local rules implemented by this Facility. As such, this Court cannot ascertain whether the Facility's actions in this instance were in violation of the Facility's own rules and regulations governing inmates in protective custody. Moreover, this Court finds that protective custody status in and of itself does not create a special duty to Claimant without more. (
Priester v State of New York, Ct Cl, April 4, 2002, Ruderman, J., Claim No. 98680). In addition, applying the previously enunciated standards to this second assault, Claimant has not established that Inmate Pitts had previously exhibited any violent propensity towards him or that the Facility was aware that Claimant himself was in an especially dangerous situation that would have triggered a heightened duty to provide "unremitting supervision". (Mobley v State of New York, 1 AD2d 731, 732; Bellamy v State of New York, Ct Cl, August 25, 1998, Bell, J., Claim No. 94134; Roudette v State of New York, 224 AD2d 808, 809; Huertas v State of New York, 84 AD2d 650; Leibach v State of New York, 215 AD2d 978). In sum, Claimant has failed to establish that the State was negligent in relation to the June 21, 1995 assault.

Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, Claim No. 96299 is hereby DISMISSED.

All other motions on which the Court may have previously reserved or which were not previously determined, are hereby denied.


July 11, 2002
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims