New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BYAS v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-018-246, Claim No. 102810


After trial, the Court hereby grants the State's motion to dismiss. Without any expert testimony regarding the standard of care or any deviation therefrom, the claimant has failed to prove a prima facie case of medical malpractice.

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:
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: HEATHER R. RUBINSTEIN, ESQUIREAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 3, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

When claimant arrived for trial, he indicated he had not had an opportunity to serve

subpoenas on the facilities where he had been housed as an inmate in order to obtain his ambulatory health records. Conveniently, the assistant attorney general made copies of claimant's medical records for claimant and the Court, and the trial proceeded.
Claimant seeks damages for failure to appropriately treat an injury he sustained while playing football at the Cape Vincent Correctional Facility where he was housed at the time. The incident occurred on November 15, 1999 at approximately 8:45 p.m. At that time, claimant testified that he jammed his finger and had an emergency sick call at the end of the game. He received no specific treatment at that time, but the next morning he again had sick call, and he had no movement of his left ring finger; his fingers were swollen, and there was a lump in his hand. It took approximately six-to-seven days before he saw a doctor who indicated his tendon had been injured during the football game. On November 22, the doctor at the facility requested a consultation; however, claimant did not see a specialist until January 26, 2000. During that time there was some confusion regarding the type of splint he would need for his hand, and when he returned to the facility it was not available. He was then sent to a Watertown clinic and they did not have that type of splint available either.

On or about February 8 or 9, claimant was again sent to Syracuse where he received the appropriate splint for his hand. On July 14, 2000, he had his first surgery after which he was supposed to receive occupational therapy, but he did not receive it. Apparently he was sent for physical therapy in Gouverneur; however, he indicated that was not an appropriate response to his needs. He had a second surgery on March 30, 2001, again in Syracuse. Again, he was sent for physical therapy and not occupational therapy. Claimant argued that the rules and regulations, among them 9 NYCRR §7010, were not followed by the facility. Claimant filed a grievance. He was transferred to Walsh Correctional Facility where he remained for seven months receiving treatment for his hand. He was seen again in March by an orthopedic surgeon who has recommended additional surgery. He does not want to have the additional surgery while still incarcerated.

On cross-examination, claimant acknowledged that in January of 2002, he re-injured his finger, the same finger which was initially injured in 1999. At that time he was seen by the medical staff at the correctional facility and removed from any programs. He was seen by a doctor on January 14, 2002, and was at Upstate Medical Center receiving treatment on January 26 and 28, 2002. He acknowledged that he did not have any medical training but learned about his problems by reading numerous books.

At the close of claimant's testimony, the State moved to dismiss on the basis that the case sounds in malpractice and there was no evidence regarding the standard of care in the community nor that there was any deviation from that standard of care. There is also an issue as to whether or not there was an interceding cause for his problem when he re-injured his hand in January 2002. Claimant's medical records are extensive covering his treatment at numerous correctional facilities as well as State University Hospital and Walsh, a medical facility. Suffice it to say, Mr. Byas received considerable medical treatment for his injury. The result of any surgical intervention or attention may not meet with his approval, however, based upon the evidence at trial, the Court cannot say that Mr. Byas' injury has gone untreated. Further, without any expert testimony regarding the standard of care or any deviation therefrom, the claimant has failed to prove a prima facie case of medical malpractice. The Court hereby grants the State's motion to dismiss. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

September 3, 2003
Syracuse, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims