New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

DAVIS v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-018-538, Claim No. 105827


Claimant has failed to prove 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. The claim is dismissed.

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):

Claimant’s attorney:
Defendant’s attorney:
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: G. LAWRENCE DILLON, ESQUIREAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 30, 2006

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

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.
To 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., 205 AD2d 683; Marcellus v Littauer Hosp. Assn., 145 AD2d 680). Claimant has failed to provide such proof.

November 30, 2006
Syracuse, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1].Exhibit 1.
[2].Exhibit 4.