New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MEDINA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-019-503, Claim No. 104005, Motion No. M-69409


Synopsis


Claimant's motion for summary judgment on bailment cause of action is granted as to liability for missing gold chain and medal, but denied with respect to damages.

Case Information

UID:
2005-019-503
Claimant(s):
JOSE MEDINA
Claimant short name:
MEDINA
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
104005
Motion number(s):
M-69409
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Claimant's attorney:
JOSE MEDINA, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Carol A. Cocchiola, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 20, 2005
City:
Binghamton
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, moves for summary judgment on his bailment claim. The State of New York (hereinafter "State") concedes liability but opposes the motion with respect to damages.

The facts as outlined by claimant in his supporting papers are undisputed. On April 15, 1998, claimant was incarcerated at Coxsackie Correctional Facility when he was transported to court for an appearance. Prior to leaving Coxsackie Correctional Facility, claimant was directed and did in fact relinquish a religious gold chain and medal. Several months thereafter, claimant was returned to Coxsackie Correctional Facility but soon transferred to Southport Correctional Facility. Claimant inquired as to the location of his gold chain and medal and was advised in a memo that "[y]our medal is here in Southport in your personal property." (Cl.'s Ex. 2). Claimant was then transferred to Elmira Correctional Facility. After another inquiry, claimant was advised that his gold chain and medal were not in his personal property upon his transfer from Southport Correctional Facility to Elmira Correctional Facility. (Cl.'s Ex. 3). After another transfer to Mid-State Correctional Facility, claimant was again advised that the gold chain and medal were not in his personal property. (Cl.'s Ex. 6).


Claimant served a notice of intention on the Office of the Attorney General on April 26, 1999 by certified mail, return receipt requested. Thereafter, the claim was served on the Office of the Attorney General on March 15, 2001 by certified mail, return receipt requested, and filed with the Clerk of the Court on March 22, 2001. The State filed a Verified Answer on May 1, 2001.


By way of this motion claimant argues he is entitled to summary judgment including damages in the amount of $1,050 for the value of the gold chain and medal. The State concedes there are no questions of fact as to liability, but argues that questions of fact as to damages exists warranting a trial on the issue of damages. With respect to the issue of liability, the court finds that claimant has established a prima facie case of bailment. (Heede Hoist & Mach. Co. v Bayview Towers Apts., 74 AD2d 598). As such, claimant's motion seeking summary judgment on the issue of liability for the gold chain and medal will be granted. Thus, the only remaining issue for the court is that of damages, if any, to which claimant is entitled for the loss of his gold chain and medal.


It is well-settled that the court must determine the fair market value of the missing or damaged property, which includes depreciation of the lost items. (Schaffner v Pierce, 75 Misc 2d 21, 24). Receipts are the best evidence of fair market value, although uncontradicted testimony concerning replacement value may also be acceptable. (Phillips v Catania, 155 AD2d 866). Here, however, claimant has submitted only a photocopy of a receipt for the missing chain and medal dated November 15, 1993. (Cl.'s Ex. 8). The State objects to the admissibility of said receipt arguing that the same is not evidence in admissible form and, in any event, is partially illegible, thereby warranting a trial on damages. (Affirmation of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, ¶ ¶ 5 & 6). Claimant indicates he will produce the original receipt at trial if he is able to retrieve the same from the inmate records coordinator. Although the court is able to read portions of the receipt,[1](Cl.'s Ex. 8). an integral part of the court's consideration of the fair market value of the missing chain and medal will be claimant's testimony. While claimant may well be able to convince the court at trial that the fair market value of the gold chain and medal is $1,050 as stated in the claim, such determination must be left for a trial on the issue of damages.

The parties are directed to advise the court in writing, within thirty (30) days from the date of entry of this Decision & Order with the Clerk of the Court, what discovery, if any, remains outstanding on the issue of damages.


Accordingly, in light of the foregoing, it is ORDERED that claimant's motion for summary judgment, Motion No. M-69409, is GRANTED IN PART with respect to liability for the gold chain and medal and denied with respect to damages. A trial will be scheduled as soon as practicable with respect to damages.


Let interlocutory judgment be entered accordingly.


January 20, 2005
Binghamton, New York

HON. FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Judge of the Court of Claims


The court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. Claim, filed March 22, 2001.
  2. Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment, Motion No. M-69409, dated November 23, 2004, and filed December 1, 2004.
  3. Affidavit of Jose Medina, in support of motion, dated and verified November 23, 2004, with attached exhibits.
  4. Memorandum of Law in Support of Claimants [sic] Motion for Summary Judgment, dated November 23, 2004.
  5. Affirmation of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated January 10, 2005, and filed January 12, 2005.
  6. Letter from Jose Medina to Court, in support of motion, dated January 15, 2005, and received January 20, 2005.

[1]The court can make out the following entries on the receipt as follows:

1 10K gold [illegible] $[illegible]
1 18K link chain $800.00

1 Lazarus metal [sic] $250.00