New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MOORE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-032-505, Claim No. 103448


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:
Rickey Moore, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, NYS Attorney GeneralBy: Michael C. Rizzo, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 18, 2002

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

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 the television.

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 claim.
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 position[1]
8. Inmates may not loan, sell, or give away their televison sets, without proper authorization.

(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.
In addition to not producing any document from Coleman to show that he had possessed the proper permit for the television, claimant did not produce any document at trial indicating that the Superintendent authorized a transfer to claimant. Since claimant has failed to produce sufficient evidence to satisfy the burden of proof in this case, the defendant's motion to dismiss propounded at trial is hereby granted.

Let judgment be entered accordingly.

December 18, 2002

Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]These requirements are also set forth in the Department's policy directive 4921.