Allen Moore, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim Number 99925 that
Defendant's agents negligently allowed his personal property to be lost or
destroyed in or about November, 1998 when he was transferred from Sing Sing
Correctional Facility (hereafter Sing Sing) to Fishkill Correctional Facility
(hereafter Fishkill). Trial of the matter was held at Sing Sing on January 25,
Claimant testified that on or about September 11, 1998, as a result of a Tier
III disciplinary hearing disposition at Sing Sing he was given "...180 days
keeplock and confiscation of all personal property and permit
While he was held in "the pen" after the hearing, officers proceeded to his cell
to pack up the confiscated items, to be sent to the storage area and returned to
him after he had served his disciplinary time.
In reviewing the attachments to the Claim, there is an I-64 inventory form
pertinent to what items were confiscated as a result of the Tier III disposition
at Sing Sing.
, Claim No.99925, filed March 4, 1999, Exhibit A-2]. There are two
"contraband receipts" also dated September 11, 1998 indicating that one green
sweatshirt and one pair of yellow sweat pants were confiscated by Sing Sing
personnel; and a Timex watch was "placed in Watch Commander's evidence locker."
, Exhibits "B" and "C"]. No value is indicated for the
On November 4, 1998 he was "packed up for a draft," including only that
property still in his cell - essentially one bag of State issued clothing
-because of the disciplinary disposition. The following day he was removed to
Fishkill. He arrived at Downstate November 5
, 1998, then transferred to Fishkill, where he was placed in Special Housing
Unit (SHU) "double-bunking facility." He was given the one bag of State issued
clothing that had been packed up from Sing Sing.
According to his claim, on January 31, 1999 Claimant reviewed the property that
should have been transferred with him on November 4, 1998, and found numerous
personal effects missing. The property was scheduled to be returned on December
12, 1998, after the confiscation period ended. What did arrive at Fishkill was
"some of the property, but what is mentioned in the Claim is what was missing."
Attached to his Claim, there is what appears to be an I-64 completed at
Fishkill on January 31, 1999. [
, Claim No. 99925, filed March 4, 1999, Exhibit "D"]. He indicated
that what he asserts was missing is indicated on Exhibit "E" to the present
Claim. [Claimant's Exhibit "1"]. The list includes: 15 cassette tapes, 1 yellow
sweat pants, 1 Timex watch (yellow), 1 beard trimmer (Wahls), 1 am/fm radio, 1
cassette player, 1 pack of cigarettes, 3 packs of cigars, 3 rolls rich tobacco,
1 soft shoe brush, 3 shoe polish, 1 bottle of glue.
On cross-examination, Claimant acknowledged that he received "some items back."
He wasn't "sure" whether he had filed a facility grievance at Fishkill, because
the "property never got to Fishkill;" and he hadn't filed one at Sing Sing
because he "wasn't there anymore." No receipts were presented, nor was there
any testimony concerning value.
In his Claim, Claimant seeks $3,000 in "compensation" and $2,000 for punitive
No other witnesses testified.
This claim is one alleging negligence by the alleged bailee in a bailment
created between Defendant and Claimant by delivery of Claimant's personal
property into the custody of Defendant's employees .
, Claflin v Meyer
, 75 NY 260 (1878);
Ahlers v State of New York,
(Claim No. 82543, unreported decision filed
December 23, 1991, Corbett, P.J.). The State has a duty to secure an inmate's
personal property. Pollard v State of New York
, 173 AD2d 906 (3d Dept.
1991). A delivery of property to the bailee, and the latter's failure to return
it, satisfies Claimant's burden of establishing a prima facie
of negligence. The bailee is then required to come forward with evidence to
"overcome the presumption." Weinberg v D-M Rest. Corp
., 60 AD2d 550 (1st
Dept. 1977). "Where a bailment is created, a showing that the...[property was]
delivered to the bailee and returned in a damaged condition establishes a
case of negligence and the burden shifts to the bailee to
demonstrate that it exercised ordinary care...(citation omitted
Board of Educ. of Ellenville Cent. School v Herb's Dodge Sales &
79 AD2d 1049,1050 (3d Dept. 1981).
With respect to value, Claimant must satisfy the court of the fair market value
of the items in question.
Phillips v Catania
, 155 AD2d 866 (4th Dept. 1989); Schaffner v
, 75 Misc 2d 21 (Nassau Co. Dist. Ct. 1973). Receipts are the best
evidence of fair market value, although uncontradicted testimony concerning
replacement value may also be acceptable.
Finally, punitive damages are available only where there has been gross
negligence of a kind that is "...(1) egregious, (2) directed at the...[claimant]
and (3) part of a pattern of similar conduct directed at the public at large.
Punitive damages may be recovered in cases where a defendant's conduct ‘is
morally culpable, or is actuated by evil and reprehensible motive, not only to
punish the defendant but to deter [it] as well as others who might otherwise be
so prompted, from indulging in similar conduct in the future.' ..." (
). Seynaeve v Hudson Moving & Stor.
, 261 AD2d
168, 169 (1st Dept. 1999). Punitive damages are generally unavailable in a
"...garden variety bailment case...."[Id.]
such as this one.
Here, while there has been the suggestion of delivery of at least the sweat
clothes and the Timex watch, and the same minimal level of proof as to loss,
there has been no proof of value as to any items. Accordingly, Defendant's
motion to dismiss for failure to establish a
case, reserved on at the time of trial, is hereby granted,
and Claim Number 99925 is dismissed in its entirety.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.