This claim was filed pro se, seeming to allege four causes of action for
four different incidents. Claimant testified that on January 31, 2001, while an
inmate at Gouverneur Correctional Facility (hereinafter GCF), he fractured his
ankle getting out of the top bunk of his living area. He went to the infirmary
that day and was given crutches. The claim reflects that because the top bunk
should have a ladder or guardrails, Claimant was forced to use a locker to
access his bed. At trial, Claimant did not present any evidence that the lack
of a ladder or guardrails on his bed was negligent or that the State was aware
of any condition requiring Claimant to be assigned a bottom bunk. Accordingly,
this cause of action is DISMISSED.
On Friday, two days after he fell getting
out of his bunk bed, he returned to the infirmary for X-rays. Thereafter, on
Monday, he learned that his ankle was broken, not sprained. He was given an
air brace to use. Claimant apparently contends that he should have been
diagnosed and advised earlier that he had more than a sprained ankle. However,
Claimant’s proof failed to establish that the State’s diagnosis and
treatment of his ankle injury deviated from the standard of care. Without
expert testimony to establish the standard of care for evaluation and treatment
of an ankle injury and proof of how the State’s care deviated, any claim
that the State failed to provide proper medical attention for his broken ankle
must be DISMISSED.
Also, as part of the claim, Claimant alleges that on
February 27, 2001, and again on March 8, 2001, while still on crutches for his
ankle injury, he fell on an icy patch on a walkway he was forced to walk in
order to attend his academic program. As a result of falling, Claimant asserts
he suffered additional injuries for which he was denied proper medical
treatment. His primary complaint is that he was not taken for an MRI. The
Claimant’s radiology reports
were received into evidence and indicate Claimant had X-rays of his spine and
pelvic areas on February 20, 2001, February 27, 2001, March 8, 2001, and July
11, 2001, which showed no injuries.
Claimant was seen by the facility doctor
during the week of May 7, 2001, to address his complaints. Claimant testified
that he could not participate in some of his programs until September due to
pain in his ankle and upper back. His subjective allegations of pain were the
only evidence presented. No expert testimony or documentary medical evidence
was introduced. Again, any claim for improper medical care must be supported by
expert and/or documentary evidence of a deviation from the standard of care.
Without this evidence, the Court cannot find the State failed to properly care
for Claimant’s injuries. This cause of action is DISMISSED.
establish a cause of action for negligent maintenance of the walkways at the
facility, Claimant offered a document
dated March 28, 2001, which appears to be minutes of an inmate liaison committee
meeting. This exhibit was admitted into evidence, over objection, on the basis
it was an admission. Upon further review, the statements that were made that
pertain to falls on icy walkways were not made by a State employee but reflect a
request made by the committee for better maintenance. Therefore, the Court will
not consider this document.
Even if Exhibit 4 were to be considered the
location of the falls described, they are not identified, and therefore, could
not be used to prove notice to the State of a dangerous condition where
Claimant fell, nor could it be used to show the State created the condition in
those areas where Claimant fell.
As a landowner, the State had a duty to
maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition under the circumstances
(Basso v Miller,
40 NY2d 233, 241). However, the mere happening of an
accident does not establish the State’s negligence; Claimant must show
that the State either created or had actual or constructive notice of the
dangerous condition that caused Claimant to fall and failed to timely and
properly remedy the defect (Woll v Village of Rockville Ctr.,
683; Marcellus v Littauer Hosp. Assn.,
145 AD2d 680). Claimant has
failed to provide such proof.
The claim is hereby DISMISSED. LET JUDGMENT
BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.