In April 2002, claimant filed this action alleging negligence and medical
malpractice. After a trial held on April 20, 2006, the Court finds as follows.
Claimant alleges that on March 28, 2001, at approximately 2:30 P.M., he slipped
on a puddle of water while he was working in the dormitory laundry room. He
claims that a washing machine malfunctioned and, before maintenance arrived to
fix it, water leaked on the floor causing him to slip and fall. Although
claimant alleged that the Franklin Correctional Facility was negligent for
failing to keep the dormitory safe and secure, he offered no proof at trial in
support of this allegation. The Court, therefore, deems this part of his claim
abandoned. However, he also alleged medical malpractice and negligence "towards
diagnosis, treatment and other more general treatment toward my rehabilitation"
(Claim, ¶ 2).
At trial, claimant produced documentary evidence and oral
testimony of his treatment by the medical staff. Claimant was seen in the
medical facility at the prison several times on March 28, 2001, where he
reported that he twisted his left leg and ankle. He was provided an ice wrap,
Tylenol, crutches and placed on cube restriction,
but was to eat his meals in the mess hall which was quite a distance away from
his dormitory (Exhibit 1[i], [j], [p]). According to Nurse Chestnut Gordon, the
nurse who initially saw claimant in the infirmary,
it is the policy of the infirmary that if an inmate gets crutches, the inmate is
placed on cube restriction (Exhibit1[j]). She also testified that although
inmates are restricted to their cubes for safety purposes, the infirmary never
issues feed-up slips to those on crutches who were not admitted to the
infirmary. Therefore, those inmates who are injured, but not seriously enough to
be admitted to the hospital, must walk on their crutches to the mess hall no
matter what the distance may be from their dormitory.
that he did not want to be on cube restriction, so he went back to the infirmary
on March 29, 2001. The entry for that date indicates that he wanted to return
his crutches so he could go back to his programs. He testified, however, that he
did not return the crutches that day. He went back to the infirmary the next day
and complained of pain and clicking in his left lateral knee area. He was placed
on 72 hours of bed rest, cold compresses and analgesics. On April 10, 2001, his
leg was finally X-rayed.
The X-ray showed that his left fibula was broken and he was sent to an outside
hospital for treatment. The leg was not cast, just wrapped with an ace bandage,
and partial weight bearing was allowed with crutches. He was to be seen by an
orthopedist in four to six weeks (Exhibit 1[n]). On April 17, 2001, a nurse
observed claimant walking without his crutches, so, in her opinion, they were
“not medically necessary.” The crutches were returned, as they were
6 inches too short and not being used properly, and claimant was not given new
crutches. Although claimant had not previously complained about his crutches
because he was afraid he would receive a disciplinary ticket, when the crutches
were taken away, he wrote to the nurse administrator asking for new crutches
since he was still in pain. On April 23, 2001, he was issued proper crutches.
To establish a medical malpractice claim, a party "must prove, by a
preponderance of the evidence, a deviation or departure from accepted medical
practice and that such departure was a substantial factor in producing
[claimant's] injuries" (Valentine v Lopez
, 283 AD2d 739, 741 [3d Dept
2001]). Further, "expert medical opinion is required to demonstrate merit as to
matters not within the ordinary experience and knowledge of laypersons"
(Quigley by Kantrowitz v Jabbur
, 124 AD2d 398, 399 [3d Dept 1986]).
Medical negligence, in essence, alleges negligent omissions or commissions by
State caregivers which can be readily determined by the fact finder using common
knowledge without the necessity of expert testimony. This theory is limited to
“those cases where the alleged negligent act may be readily determined by
the trier of the facts based on common knowledge” (Coursen v New York
Hospital-Cornell Med. Center
, 114 AD2d 254, 256 [1st Dept 1986]).
is clear to this Court that claimant was not issued the proper size crutches on
March 28, 2001. This Court deems such action by the medical staff to be medical
negligence. A medical expert was not required in this case because, by their own
admission, the nursing staff admitted the crutches were too short in
claimant’s medical records (Exhibit 1 [m]). Claimant is, therefore,
awarded $100.00 per day for each day that he was required to use the short
crutches for his broken leg and the time period that they were taken away from
him. As such, claimant is awarded $2,600.00, with appropriate interest. All
motions not heretofore decided are denied. To the extent that claimant has paid
a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act §
Let judgment be entered accordingly.