This claim was tried on September 24, 2002 at the Clinton Correctional Facility
("Clinton") in Dannemora, New York.
Rickey Moore, claimant, filed this claim, pro se, on November 30, 2000. The
claim alleges that the defendant destroyed claimant's personal property,
violated its own policies and directives, and failed to perform its duty towards
claimant (Claim, § 2). Specifically, claimant alleges that on August 28,
2000, another prisoner, J. Coleman ("Coleman"), was transferred from Clinton. It
further avers that Coleman requested that the television he had purchased while
at Clinton be transferred to claimant (Claim, § 4). Claimant never received
On September 14, 2000, claimant filed an inmate grievance complaint that
stated, "upon leaving Mr. Coleman transferred the TV he purchased in the
commissary to me via the package room. All the forms and paper work was filled
out, and the TV was to be turned over to me...." (Exhibit A, p 5). On October
11, 2000, the claim was denied because "the TV was not legally owned by first
inmate and therefore could not be transferred to this inmate." (Exhibit A, p 2).
On October 16, 2000, claimant received a letter from the defendant indicating
that the television was considered contraband and disposed of on October 1, 2000
(Claim, § 5).
The appeal of this determination was denied by the acting superintendent and
the Central Office Review Committee, on October 27, 2000 and November 1, 2000,
respectively, because "[i]nformation provided by the Package Room reveals that
the inmate named did not have a valid permit for the TV. Therefore, it cannot
be issued to another inmate." (Exhibit A, p. 3).
Claimant then filed this
The Court finds that a bailment did not exist in this instance either between
the defendant and Coleman or between defendant and claimant. A bailment exists
when the property is delivered from one person to another "for a particular
purpose under an express or implied contract with the understanding that it
shall be redelivered to the person delivering it, or kept until he reclaims it
after fulfilment of the purpose for which it was delivered" (9 NY Jur 2d,
Bailments and Chattel Leases, § 1, p 9). In the instant case, Coleman had
the television placed in the facility's package room allegedly to be transferred
to claimant. Coleman never intended to have the television redelivered to
himself (Exhibit 3 [October 5, 2000 letter from Alison Coleman indicating that
her husband transferred the television to claimant]). Hence, no bailment existed
between inmate Coleman and the defendant (
Beyrle v Finneron,
199 AD2d 1022, 1023 [4th Dept. 1993]). Therefore,
the Court will not address whether a proper assignment of that bailment occurred
between Coleman and claimant.
The Court further finds that no bailment existed between claimant and
defendant because claimant did not meet the evidentiary burden of proving by a
preponderance of the evidence that the television properly belonged to him.
Indeed, on cross-examination claimant admitted that he never purchased the
television, he never possessed it, nor did he have a permit for it. Claimant did
not produce any documents indicating that the Commissioner had given written
permission to Coleman to possess the television as required under the Department
of Correctional Services Directive 4921 (Exhibit 2). Claimant only produced two
documents at trial. Claimant argues that Exhibit 1, which is labeled form
Admin./161 and is a certificate issued by the prison commissary, is the permit
necessary for the use of the television in the facility. The words "Inmate
Guidelines For Possession/Use Of A Personally Owned Television Set" are set
forth at the top of this document. It provides certain rules for the use of the
television and it provides for sanctions if any of the guidelines are violated.
It is signed by Coleman and a store clerk from the commissary. It is not
designated a permit, nor is it signed by the Commissioner. However, the document
does contain a utile provision in support of the defendant's
8. Inmates may not loan, sell, or give away their televison sets, without proper
(a.) Inmates being transferred to a facility where personally owned televison
sets are not allowed, may:
(1) With the Superintendent's approval, transfer ownership of the television
set to another inmate, only upon transfer or discharge.
(2) Send it home at their own expense.