New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ADAMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-031-507, Claim No. 102896


Case Information

JOHN ADAMS Caption amended sua sponte to show the only proper defendant.
Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :
Caption amended sua sponte to show the only proper defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Defendant's attorney:
New York State Attorney General
BY: GORDON J. CUFFY, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 24, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

John Adams ("Claimant") filed claim number 102896 on August 11, 2000, alleging that Defendant is responsible for the loss of Claimant's personal property valued at $1,001.91. I held a trial on this matter on September 25, 2003, at Auburn Correctional Facility ("Auburn").

Claimant testified that, on November 24, 1999, Auburn employees departed from Department of Correctional Services Directive No. 4917 (Claimant's exhibit 2) in processing his personal property for transfer to Upstate Correctional Facility ("Upstate"), resulting in the loss of personal property. On that day, according to the Claimant, officers packed the contents of his cell into nine draft bags and removed five of the bags prior to taking a break for lunch. They left four draft bags in his cell at that time, intending to remove them after their break. Whether this was accomplished is unknown, but there is no dispute that these bags were not shipped to the Claimant with the five bags removed earlier.

The next morning, November 25, 1999, the officer in charge of processing inmate property, Officer Nicholas K. DeAngelis, Jr., was contacted and affirmed that the draft processing center would take care of Claimant's four remaining draft bags. There was delay in the delivery of these four bags resulting in Claimant's filing an initial administrative claim for all property contained in the bags. That claim was denied, however, as Defendant determined that the bags had not been lost, but were still in the process of being delivered. Claimant ultimately filed this claim relating to property he claims was missing from the four bags after he finally received them.

Claimant was unable to produce his personal inventory sheets ("I-64's") listing the personal property in his possession immediately before and after the transfer from Auburn to Upstate. Claimant testified that many legal documents and all receipts had been lost in a subsequent transfer from Upstate to Attica Correctional Facility ("Attica").

Claimant called Draft Process Supervisor Nicholas K. DeAngelis, Jr., the officer identified above. Officer DeAngelis' duties involved processing for transfer Claimant's property on the date in question. Officer DeAngelis identified Department of Correctional Services Directive No. 4917 and testified that it was in effect at the time in question. This document was submitted as Claimant's exhibit 2. Officer DeAngelis then verified that four bags were indeed left in the Claimant's cell at the time of his transfer. He also admitted that it is not regular practice to break for lunch during the process of packing an inmate's personal property, and that under normal procedures, officers would not leave bags behind. He could offer no explanation as to why, on this occasion, Claimant's property was not packed in accordance with Directive No. 4917.

With regard to damages, Defendant was able to provide I-64's signed on August 15, 1992, when the Claimant arrived at Auburn (Defendant's exhibit B) and February 21, 2000, when the Claimant arrived at Attica (Defendant's exhibit A). Defendant also offered into evidence an Auburn Local Permit dated August 15, 1992 (Defendant's exhibit C), which indicates that Claimant possessed a Sony tape deck valued by Claimant at $40.00. Additionally, the Defendant presented a local permit for a radio, dated August 16, 1995, listing a new radio valued at $23.98 (Defendant's exhibit D). The permit states that "inmates may NOT own more than ONE radio, tape player or combination at any one time." Thus, Defendant argues that Claimant may collect for the radio or tape player, but not both. Defendant also argued that, although Claimant sought reimbursement for two photo albums, both I-64's listed these items. Defendant also pointed out that, despite Claimant's alleged loss of a typewriter, neither I-64 indicated that Claimant owned a typewriter, and no local permit to have one had been issued to Claimant at Auburn. Defendant argues that Claimant, therefore, could not have had a typewriter at the time in question. Finally Defendant pointed out that inmates are not permitted to possess more than ten packs of cigarettes at any given time, and thus requested that the claim, which alleged a loss of 96 packs, be limited accordingly.

I find Claimant has established that his personal property was lost while in Defendant's possession. Therefore, Defendant is liable to Claimant for the loss of this property (
see 7 NYCRR § 1700.7; see also Weinberg v D-M Rest. Corp., 60 AD2d 550). Claimant is entitled to recover from Defendant the fair market value of the lost property (see Phillips v Catania, 155 AD2d 866). Although Claimant was not in possession of receipts with which to document the precise value of the property, based upon Claimant's testimony and the other evidence before this Court, I find that Claimant is entitled to an award of $250.00 for his lost property, together with appropriate interest from January 10, 2000 to July 10, 2000 and from August 11, 2000 to the date of this decision and thereafter to the date of entry of judgment, pursuant to CPLR 5001 and 5002.
To the extent that claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act §11-a(2).

March 24, 2004
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims