New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SIDNEY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-010-003, Claim No. 106493


Synopsis


Inmate's claim for damages concerning the treatment he received at Sing Sing was dismissed due to the fact that he was unable to prove a prima facie care of either medical negligence or medical malpractice.

Case Information

UID:
2003-010-003
Claimant(s):
EUGENE SIDNEY
Claimant short name:
SIDNEY
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
106493
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Terry Jane Ruderman
Claimant's attorney:
EUGENE SIDNEYPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 29, 2003
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision
Claimant seeks damages for medical negligence and medical malpractice concerning the treatment he received while he was incarcerated in the New York State Correctional system.
Claimant contends that, from the time of his incarceration at Downstate Correctional Facility in 1994, defendant was aware that claimant had a nasal septum defect. In February 1994, claimant was transferred to Sing Sing Correctional Facility (Sing Sing). His Ambulatory Health Records reveal that in 1994 a one centimeter hole was noted in his mid septum and he was referred to an ear, nose and throat consult for evaluation (Ex. 1). The perforation was attributed to cocaine abuse. The hole enlarged through the years. Claimant was treated with topical medications and, on March 13, 2000, was admitted to St. Agnes Hospital in White Plains for a septoplasty. The surgical repair was unsuccessful and claimant continues to have symptoms relating to the hole in his septum. According to claimant, the hole has grown because defendant failed to address his condition in a timely and proper manner. Claimant also contends that he should be scheduled for further surgery.
Dr. John Petrilli, the Facilities Medical Director at Sing Sing, testified that
claimant's nasal defect was not considered a medical necessity and despite the fact that a septoplasty was performed at St. Agnes Hospital, the Department of Correctional Services does not have an obligation to perform such procedure and a further operation is not warranted.
"[A] duty of ordinary care is owed by prison authorities to provide for the health and care of their charges" (
Gordon v City of New York, 120 AD2d 562, 563, affd 70 NY2d 839; Cauley v State of New York, 224 AD2d 381). The theory of simple negligence is restricted to those cases where the alleged negligent acts are readily determinable by the trier of the facts on common knowledge (see Weiner v Lenox Hill Hosp., 88 NY2d 784; Rey v Park View Nursing Home, 262 AD2d 624; Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Center, 114 AD2d 254, 256). However, where, as here, the treatment received by the patient is an issue, the more specialized theory of medical malpractice must be followed (see Twitchell v Mackay, 78 AD2d 125; Hale v State of New York, 53 AD2d 1025). To establish a prima facie case of medical malpractice, a claimant must prove, inter alia, that defendant departed from good and accepted medical practice and that such departure was a substantial factor in producing the alleged injury (see Tonetti v Peekskill Community Hosp., 148 AD2d 525; Mortensen v Memorial Hosp., 105 AD2d 151).
Significantly absent from claimant's case was any competent medical evidence, either from a treating physician, or from an expert whose opinion was based upon the available medical records. Without such evidence, claimant's own unsubstantiated assertions and speculations were insufficient to establish merit and a prima facie case of either medical negligence or medical malpractice (see Wells v State of New York, 228 AD2d 581; Mosberg v Elahi, 176 AD2d 710 affd 80 NY2d 941; Quigley v Jabbur, 124 AD2d 398).
Defendant's motion to dismiss, upon which decision was reserved, is now GRANTED.

LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED DISMISSING CLAIM NO. 106493.

January 29, 2003
White Plains, New York

HON. TERRY JANE RUDERMAN
Judge of the Court of Claims