New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

McNULTY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-032-532, Claim No. 104692


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:
James McNulty, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, NYS Attorney GeneralBy: Frederick H. McGown, III, Assistant Attorney General, Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 31, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

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 2).[1]
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[2]
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).

December 31, 2003
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] These two invoices total $56.14, but $5.50 of that amount is for shipping charges.
[2] The headphones that claimant ordered from The Music Store were "Digital Super Bass" headphones.