Claimant seeks damages resulting from the failure of defendant to reissue
prescription eyeglasses in a timely manner while he was incarcerated at Fishkill
Correctional Facility (Fishkill). On February 7, 2001, after his release from
the Special Housing Unit (SHU), claimant received his stored property and
discovered that his eyeglasses had been broken. It is undisputed that defendant
eventually agreed to replace the eyeglasses at no cost to claimant. Claimant,
however, did not receive new glasses until December 4, 2001. Claimant maintains
that, in the interim, he had blurry vision and headaches due to his work
assignment in the law library. He made multiple requests for a change of
program, which were denied. Claimant also contends that the delay in replacing
his glasses caused his vision to deteriorate. Claimant did not offer any expert
medical opinion to support that contention.
Pursuant to c
laimant's subpoenas, Correction Lieutenant Joseph Pataro; Dr. Richard Klyszejko,
Facilities Health Services Director at Fishkill; and Dr. Richard Wurzel, an
outside contractor providing ophthalmologic services to inmates, testified at
trial. Dr. Klyszejko conceded that it was possible for visual eyestrain to
cause headaches, but the lack of glasses would not cause blurred vision.
Klyszejko testified that eyeglasses are usually issued one month after an inmate
has a doctor's appointment. Klyszejko considered three months to receive
prescribed glasses as excessive.
On October 29, 2001,
claimant filed a grievance requesting a change in program assignment. In regard
to the grievance, Dr. Supple examined claimant and determined:
"It is my
medical opinion that if he does have headaches it is not caused by ‘visual
strain'. Furthermore, new glasses were ordered 8/01 but he has not received
them yet. He was advised to try his program with his new glasses. He refused
this advice. I believe his headaches are not from visual problems, but rather
are due to the fact he wants to change his program and has been denied. This
denial was in his prior grievance to Superintendent Mazzuca for the same issue.
The bottom line is there is no medical evidence that sitting in a law library
will cause headaches from eye strain."
(Ex. 10). Klyszejko relied on the
assessment of the examining physician. Claimant's request for a change of
program was denied.
Dr. Richard Wurzel testified that he has been an optometrist for 25 years and
is an outside contractor for the New York State Department of Correctional
Services. He reviewed
claimant's vision records and noted that from 2000 to 2002, his vision became
increasingly farsighted (Ex. 13). Wurzel testified that this was due to the
natural process of aging, rather than the absence of glasses. Wurzel testified
that the failure to wear glasses might be uncomfortable, but does not cause
deterioration. Claimant offered no competent evidence to refute this medical
Upon consideration of all the evidence, including listening to the witnesses
testify and observing their demeanor as they did so, the Court finds that
claimant experienced discomfort due to defendant's failure to issue claimant new
glasses in a more timely manner. Claimant, however, did not meet his burden of
proving that the lack of glasses caused his eyes to deteriorate (see
Wong v Tang
, 2 AD3d 840). The Court also finds a lack of evidence to
establish the other allegations of the claim. Accordingly, on the evidence
presented, claimant has established entitlement to an award of
It is further ordered that, to the extent that
claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.