New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

O’CONNOR v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-016-061, Claim No. 106496


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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant’s attorney:
Jose O’Connor, Pro se
Defendant’s attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Jeane Strickland-Smith, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 20, 2006
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Claimant Jose O’Connor alleges that on April 21, 2002, while he was incarcerated at Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, he fell from his top bunk while sleeping, injuring his back, neck and arm. He also alleges a second fall one week later on April 28, 2002. Mr. O’Connor asserts that he was wrongly assigned to a top bunk at the time.
Claimant testified that following his two accidents, he saw a doctor who directed that O’Connor be restricted to a bottom bunk. See claimant’s exhibit 1, a July 17, 2002 memorandum from a “Dr. Goulding,” stating that “[b]ased on my medical assessment of [claimant], he is to be restricted to a bottom bunk for a period of 6 months.” O’Connor stated that he “finally . . . got a bottom bunk, yes . . after I fell down those two times . . .”
* * *
As set forth above, the memorandum directing that claimant be assigned to a bottom bunk was issued after his two falls, and thus claimant’s assignment to a bottom bunk at the time of the falls could not have constituted a violation of such memorandum. In post-trial submissions, both parties submitted a copy of Department of Correctional Services Policy Number 1.4, entitled “Lower Bunk Placement,” which provides in relevant part as follows:
New York State Department of Correctional Services recognizes the existence of medical criteria for lower bunk placement.
. . .
  1. Inmates requesting placement in a lower bunk must meet or have one of the following clinical criteria:
- On medication of a seizure disorder
- Diabetes/insulin dependent
- Age over 60 years
- Weight over 300 pounds
- Documented back problems through physician review and approval . . .
- Permanent physical disability (e.g., amputee, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Diagnosis of sleep apnea
  1. In addition inmates may be considered for the following temporary reasons:
- Acute injury or serious medical conditions (i.e. fractures, recent MI, advanced arthritis)
. . .

Claimant presented no evidence at trial that he suffered from any of the conditions which would warrant a lower bunk placement pursuant to Policy Number 1.4.
In his post-trial submission, he states that he is an insulin-dependent diabetic, but such assertion is not supported by his medical records (see claimant’s exhibit 2).
In view of the foregoing, claimant has demonstrated no negligence on the part of defendant that proximately caused his accidents. Accordingly, claim no. 106496 is dismissed.

September 20, 2006
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]Claimant suggested that he might have fallen again after the July 17th memorandum was issued, but having provided no further information, failed to prove that such in fact occurred; in any event, as set forth above, the claim alleges only two falls, on April 21st and 28th, 2002. In addition, there is a reference in claimant’s exhibit 2 to a May 6, 2002 fall. However, claimant did not testify to such fall at trial, nor is it raised in the claim.
  2. [2]It should also be noted that the July 17, 2002 memorandum from Dr. Goulding does not indicate what medical conditions were the basis for the memo’s issuance.