Delmar Rampersant, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim Number 105655 that
Defendant's agents negligently lost or destroyed his property while he was
incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereafter Sing Sing). Trial of
the matter was held at Sing Sing on June 27, 2003.
Claimant testified that "on June 16, 2001 . . . [he] was packed up and
transferred to SHU [special housing unit] at Sing
He was allowed to shop at the commissary, on or about July 3, 2001, and had
purchased some items but when the items came from the commissary, he was not
allowed to take the items to SHU. His wedding band had been in his cell when he
was packed up for SHU. Then, "about July 25th or 26th" he was transferred to
Southport Correctional Facility (hereafter Southport) and his wedding band and
commissary property were "confiscated." He stated the value of the wedding band
was $125.00, and the value of the commissary items was $35.00. He indicated
that he did not know what property was missing until after he arrived at
Claimant filed a facility claim at Southport, which was denied for
untimeliness, lack of receipts, as well as the rationale that the wedding band
had been properly seized as contraband, and that some of the items on the I-64
inventory form taken at Sing Sing, were still present on the I-64 inventory form
completed at Southport. [
Exhibit 1]. His appeal to the Superintendent was also denied. [Exhibit 4].
In the facility claim Claimant gave the value of the wedding band as $75.00,
Exhibit 1], and indicated that the commissary items were not included on the
I-64 inventory form because the items came on the day he went to SHU. Claimant
produced a local permit from Sing Sing for the wedding band dated October 10,
2000, containing no monetary value [Exhibit 1]; as well as a receipt from the
Sing Sing commissary dated July 5, 2001 showing purchases in the amount of
$35.47 [Exhibit 2] and a copy of the Sing Sing commissary "buy sheet" form
showing the items purchased on July 3, 2001 [Exhibit 3]. Despite the different
dates on the commissary form, and the receipt, the items listed reflect the
No I-64 inventory forms were presented in evidence, or attached to the
On cross-examination Claimant conceded that his wedding band had been
confiscated as "contraband", and he had received a contraband receipt for the
Exhibit A]. The reason given on the contraband receipt for the seizure is that
the ring did not contain his identification number. [Id]
. Claimant stated
there is no departmental directive requiring that a wedding ring be marked with
the inmate's identification number, and that the rationale given on the receipt
was "just to put something down." He reiterated that he had a permit for the
ring. He would not concede that he could have eaten the various food items
listed on the commissary receipt because he stated again that he never received
the commissary items in the first instance.
No other witnesses testified, and no other evidence was submitted.
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.
See generally Claflin v Meyer
, 75 NY 260 (1878); Ahlers v State
of New York,
Claim No. 82543, Corbett, P.J., December 23, 1991. The State
has a duty to secure an inmate's personal property. Pollard v State of New
, 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
case 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 prima facie
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 & Serv.
, 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 (New York Dist. Ct. 1973). Receipts are the best
evidence of fair market value, although uncontradicted testimony concerning
replacement value may also be acceptable. Personally meaningful items, such as
photographs, have no fair market value. [See Benton v State of New
, Claim No. 94337, Collins, J., July 8, 1999].
New York State Department of Correctional Services (hereafter DOCS) regulations
list generally the kinds of property inmates are allowed to receive through the
package room, and indicate as well which items require permits. [
7 NYCRR §§724.3 and 724.4]. Wedding bands are allowable
items [7 NYCRR §724.4(h)(29)]. The regulation ". . . does not set forth a
comprehensive list of all items that an inmate may be authorized to have." [7
NYCRR §724.1]. It does appear to have served as a guideline, however, for
what items may be authorized. See e.g
. Ventimiglia v State of New
, Claim No. 102952, Sise, J., February 6, 2002.
In this case, Claimant possessed a permit for the wedding band, and has
established that it was taken into DOCS custody and not returned. Defendant has
not shown in turn that the ring was contraband properly seized. Claimant has
not, however, established the fair market value or age of the ring. With respect
to the commissary items, it has not been established that there was delivery
into DOCS' custody: it is unclear when and if such delivery occurred since
Claimant first testified to being taken to SHU on June 16, 2001, and these
purchases are shown as occurring in early July, 2001. There are simply internal
inconsistencies to the facts asserted. Thus, Claimant has not established by a
preponderance of the credible evidence his bailment cause of action with respect
to all items claimed.
Accordingly, Claim Number 105655 is in all respects dismissed.
Let Judgment be entered accordingly.