New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LAWRENCE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-015-587, Claim No. 105975


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:
Reggie Lawrence, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Kevan Acton, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 10, 2004
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

In his claim filed on April 26, 2002 the claimant alleges that the State of New York was negligent when it lost certain of his personal property during the course of his transfer from Great Meadow Correctional Facility to Southport Correctional Facility.

At trial the claimant testified that prior to his departure from Great Meadow he possessed five draft bags and a typewriter. Claimant was permitted to transport only four property bags and the typewriter with him and turned the fifth bag over to Department of Correctional Services personnel so that it could be mailed to him at Southport Correctional Facility. Mr. Lawrence testified that several weeks later he received a copy of a disbursement request indicating that the amount of $10.15 had been deducted from his inmate account to pay the cost of mailing his property. On September 12, 2001 the claimant wrote a letter to Superintendent McGinnis advising that he had not received his additional personal property and requesting an investigation of the matter. In response claimant received a memorandum from Captain W. E. Wilcox dated September 25, 2001 which indicates "[e]vidence concludes your property was mailed from Great Meadow Correctional Facility on August 14, 2001. It was sent 4
th class mail which takes 4-6 weeks to be delivered. You should be receiving your property shortly." Thereafter claimant initiated an inmate property claim which was denied. At trial claimant also provided a memorandum from the Southport Correctional Facility's captain's office which indicates "[f]acility records indicate that a property bag was received for you at Southport on 9/11/01. The location of the property cannot be determined at this time."
Defense counsel acknowledged at trial the loss of one bag of claimant's personal property but argued that there is inadequate proof to establish that any of the property which claimant alleges was lost was actually contained within the property bag mailed from Great Meadow Correctional Facility and received at Southport Correctional Facility.

The proof provided at trial establishes that the additional property bag placed in the custody of DOC's personnel at Great Meadow Correctional Facility was mailed and received at Southport Correctional Facility. As acknowledged in the memorandum of November 21, 2001 "[t]he location of the property cannot be determined at this time."

In relation to the issue of damages the claimant testified to the loss of the following personal property and it's value:

(1) Personal photographs which although of sentimental value are not capable of being valued for purposes of a recovery in a bailment action.

(2) Two packages of magazines which claimant testified he received on the day of his transfer and for which he paid $108.00. The Court awards the full amount for these items.

(3) Several novels purchased in February or March 2001. The claim lists a value for these items of $56.77 and the Court awards claimant the amount of $45.00 for their loss.

(4) A bucket purchased at the commissary for $10.00 which the claim relates claimant had possessed for six months and for which the Court awards claimant the amount of $5.00.

(5) Four pairs of sweat pants which the claim indicates were purchased three months prior to their loss. Claimant testified that he purchased the pants for $20.00 each and the Court awards him the amount of $65.00.

(6) Various cosmetics for which the Court awards the amount of $35.00.

(7) A bible which the claimant had possessed for three
months for which the Court awards the amount of $20.00.
(8) The claim asserts that the lost property bag contained 2,500 pages of legal documents. The Court awards claimant the amount of $500.00 as the cost of reproducing the lost documents at a cost of $.20 per page.

The Chief Clerk of the Court of Claims is directed to enter judgment against the defendant in the amount of $778.00 together with interest at the legal rate from September 11, 2001 to March 11, 2002 and then from April 26, 2002 to the date of the decision and thereafter to the date of entry of the judgment. It is further ordered that to the extent that claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 11-a (2).

February 10, 2004
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims