On January 19, 2001, claimant James McNulty was taken from Adirondack
Correctional Facility and transferred to Clinton Correctional Facility Satellite
Unit on an emergency basis. His personal property was left behind in a locked
locker next to his bed, but he was told that the property would be packed up and
placed in storage while he was away. When he returned on January 24, 2001, his
property had not been moved but several items were missing.
Claimant immediately instituted an institutional claim, seeking $50.64 for four
cassette tapes and a pair of headphones. The claim was denied on January 31,
2001, on the ground that the property had been secured in a locker and the
padlock did not appear to have been tampered with (Exhibit 7). The appeal was
denied for the same reason (
As proof that he owned the items in question, claimant placed into evidence two
invoices from The Music Company, Inc. which show that the headphones and two
tapes were sent to claimant on January 9, 2001 (Exhibit 4) and the two other
tapes had been sent on November 7, 2000 (Exhibit
Claimant also provided the facility package inventory sheets establishing that
the items were received (Exhibits 3, 5). He testified that he had been
listening to the Santana cassette tape immediately before being transferred. To
the best of his memory, he secured the padlock on his locker prior to leaving
but, in any event, there were several correction officers who remained behind
and would have been in a position to secure his property. Correction Officer
Johnny Baker, testifying for defendant, confirmed that it is the responsibility
of correction officers to secure an inmate's locker "as soon as possible" when
an inmate is removed from a housing area unexpectedly. If the locker is open,
the officer is to pack it up. If the locker is unopened, he is to open it and
secure any loose items.
Pursuant to Directive No. 4934 of the Department of Correctional Services
(DOCS), "Inmate Property - Temporary Storage of Personal Belongings" (Exhibit
1), when an inmate is moved to a hospital on a short-term basis and is not able
to secure his or her own property, a correction officer is to search, list, and
pack the property "[a]s soon as possible" and to complete a property transfer
form, Form 2064 (I-64). The property is then to be "adequately protected
against theft," with the recommendation that it be identified and stored in a
secure area until the inmate's return. The only I-64 form placed into evidence
was one dated February 22, 2001, when claimant was transferred from Adirondack
Correctional Facility to Oneida Correctional Facility. Listed on that form are
a pair of Colby
headphones, but no cassette tapes.
Claimant has succeeded in proving that he possessed the items in question prior
to January 19, 2001 and that he no longer had them in his possession one week
later. In addition, defendant failed to submit an I-64 form to establish both
that claimant's property had been inventoried and secured as required by DOCS'
own regulation. Consequently, the Court determines that claimant is entitled to
compensation for his lost property.
The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of claimant in the
amount of $50.64, with appropriate interest from January 24, 2001.
To the extent that claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant
to Court of Claims Act Section 11-a (2).