New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

APPLEGATE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-019-026, Claim No. 98887


Claimant alleged damages due to lost legal papers during transfer between correctional facilities. Claimant failed to submit competent proof of damages even assuming lost papers were relevant to pending litigation. 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: James E. Shoemaker, Assistant Attorney General,of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 16, 2002

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Claimant, Bradford Applegate, a
pro se inmate, alleges the loss of certain personal property entrusted to the custody of the Department of Correctional Services (hereinafter "DOCS"), on or about August 22, 1996. The trial of this Claim was held on July 30, 2002, at the Elmira Correctional Facility.

Claimant testified that on August 22, 1996, he was transferred from Southport Correctional Facility (hereinafter "Facility") to the Clinton Correctional Facility. Upon leaving the Facility Claimant testified that he possessed approximately 2 ½ draft bags filled with legal materials. These legal papers included but were not limited to trial transcripts, case files, and various legal documents pertaining to numerous items of pending litigation. In addition, Claimant had approximately 5 more draft bags of other personal property bringing his total property to 7 ½ draft bags. However, pursuant to DOCS policy, only four draft bags are to be transported along with the inmate free of charge. Any property in excess of that four bag limit must be mailed at the inmate's expense to the next facility. Additionally, DOCS requires that all inmate's legal materials be contained in the four bag limit. In other words, legal materials are not to be mailed with any excess baggage. Claimant testified that when he left the Facility on August 22, 1996 he signed two disbursements forms to pay for the mailing of the four boxes of property which were in excess of the above-referenced limit. These four boxes were to be mailed to Clinton Correctional Facility. However, Claimant was not transported directly to Clinton Correctional Facility rather he was sent to Downstate Correctional Facility and held over there for approximately three weeks. Upon arrival at Clinton Correctional Facility, Claimant was given access to his property and found that at least one full draft bag of irreplaceable legal material was lost during transport. Claimant alleges that the material contained in this draft bag, consisting of transcripts and other legal materials, will cost at least $5,000.00 to replace.

On cross-examination the Claimant identified and acknowledged State's Exhibit A, which is an I-64 form relating to Claimant's transfer from the Facility to Clinton Correctional Facility on August 22, 1996. This document clearly shows that on August 22, 1996 among various items of personal property were two fully packed bags of legal papers. Moreover, the I-64 also shows that on September 12, 1996, Claimant received and signed for the items contained on that I-64 at Clinton Correctional Facility which included two bags of legal papers. This document in and of itself belies the Claimant's argument that two bags of legal papers were lost since it demonstrates Claimant signed for and received the same on September 12, 1996. As such State's Exhibit A tends to indicate the legal papers packed on August 22, 1996 at the Facility were received by Claimant some three weeks later at Clinton Correctional Facility.

However, even if the Court were to find that some portion of Claimant's legal papers were in fact lost during transport, 7 NYCRR 1700.8 (4) has previously established that lost legal papers often have no value:

If records in a criminal case are lost when there is no further right of appeal and no further use for them, then the records have no more than "sentimental value," that is, no value. If the lost legal papers can still be used, for example, in a pending or future legal proceeding, then the loss may be compensated by either replacing the papers or paying the reasonable cost to reproduce them. If an inmate can obtain replacement copies for no cost, then the lost papers have no value. If an inmate claims that there is a cost to reproduce the lost papers, then the inmate should produce an estimate for the cost to reproduce the lost papers, which normally should not exceed the cost shown in the bill for the original papers.

(7 NYCRR 1700.8 [4] [Emphasis added]).

Here, based upon State's Exhibit A, and the Assistant Attorney General's cross-examination of Claimant relative thereto, the Court is not satisfied that any of the legal papers contained in those bags related to any pending or future legal proceedings. Furthermore, even if some of the matters contained in State's Exhibit A were in fact pending, Claimant produced no cost estimates for reproduction of the lost documents, nor did he produce a copy of the bill for the original production of those documents. The only proof submitted was Claimant's own assertion of a cost of at least $2.50 per page to reproduce his lost legal papers. Without more, the Court finds that there is a failure of competent proof upon which it could award damages to Claimant even assuming that the lost documents were relevant to viable pending litigation.

Based upon the foregoing, Claim No. 98887 is hereby DISMISSED.

Any and all motions on which the Court may have previously reserved or which were not previously determined, are hereby denied.


August 16, 2002
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims