This is a bailment claim arising at Riverview Correctional Facility on June 3,
Claimant testified that the morning of June 3, 2003, a sergeant and a correction
officer came to his dormitory and escorted him to the tier hearing office. He
had just dressed but hadn't cleaned up. He said the sergeant searched and
handcuffed him and took him to the tier hearing office without allowing him to
lock his locker, leaving his property unsecured.
Claimant was taken to the Special Housing Unit (hereinafter SHU) from the tier
hearing office and his property was moved there later. He was shown his I-64
form, listing his packed property, and he noted that items were missing. He
filed an administrative claim on June 4,
which claim was denied on June 30, 2003. Claimant appealed and the appeal
review was disapproved on July 9, 2003, exhausting Claimant's administrative
remedies. This claim was filed on August 8, 2003. Claimant included in this
claim additional items not reflected on the certified copy of the administrative
claim admitted into evidence.
testified that he later added to the administrative claim. Since Claimant's
administrative remedies were not exhausted for the additional items, as
reflected on Exhibit A, those items were not considered by the Court. Claimant
submitted his I-64's
in support of his claim
as well as receipts
for purchases he made in
the year 2000.
The I-64 form dated June 3, 2003, Claimant had signed, although he testified he
did so without inventorying his property. He did not sign the acknowledgment on
June 4, 2003, when his property was being delivered to SHU because he knew some
property was missing.
The State called Correction Officer (hereinafter C.O.) Thomas McGrath who was
working in Claimant's dorm on June 3, 2003 as the housing unit officer. He does
not recall who the officers were who went to get Claimant but he saw them leave
the area. After C.O. McGrath learned Claimant was being moved to SHU, he
secured Claimant's property in his cube with a State lock. He could not recall
whether Claimant's locker was locked when he arrived at his cube. He testified
that it is the facility's policy to allow an inmate to secure his property if
requested to do so.
On cross-examination, C.O. McGrath said he could not recall how much time
elapsed between the time Claimant was taken off the dorm and the time he secured
Claimant's property; nor was he specifically watching over Claimant's
C.O. Daniel Harris also testified on behalf of the State. He and other
officers were assigned to pack Claimant's belongings after C.O. McGrath had
secured the cube. Everything in the locker was packed and taken to SHU. The
items were inventoried and recorded on the I-64 form. He believes that the
property listed on it was all personal, and that the State-issued property goes
on another form. He did not know if anything happened to Claimant's property
between the time Claimant was removed from the dorm and when C.O. McGrath
secured his property.
To establish a prima facie case of negligence in a bailment transaction,
Claimant must show that his property was deposited with the Defendant and the
Defendant failed to return it (
Weinberg v D-M Rest Corp.,
60 AD2d 550). Once Claimant meets his burden,
Defendant must come forward with proof explaining the loss (Matter of
Terranova v State of New York,
111 Misc 2d 1089). The measure of recovery
for the loss of bailed property is fair market value, which can be established
by evidence of the original purchase price less a reasonable rate of
depreciation (Phillips v Catania,
155 AD2d 866; Schaffner v Pierce,
75 Misc 2d 21, 24).
Based upon the testimony and exhibits, to the extent legible, the Court finds
that Claimant has established that he was directed to leave his cube without an
opportunity to secure his property. The State packed his property on June 3,
2003, and the following items were missing on June 4, 2003:
The sheets and pillowcases Claimant also alleges were missing were actually
accounted for on the I-64 sheet. Claimant did not adequately prove the missing
commissary items and no award is made for those items.
The Court finds the value of the towels to be $5 each and the robe to be $8.
Therefore, Claimant is awarded the sum of $28 with interest from June 4,
It is hereby ORDERED, that to the extent Claimant has paid a filing fee, it may
be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act §11-a(2).
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.