This claim arose on July 16, 1995, when claimant suffered burns to his legs
while he was working as a prison inmate in the kitchen at Watertown Correctional
Facility, where he was then incarcerated. In a Decision dated March 21, 2006,
this Court determined that the State was 70% liable for the injuries sustained
by claimant, and that claimant was 30% liable for his injuries (Marria v
State of New York
, Ct Cl, March 21, 2006, Midey, J.,
A trial on the issue of damages was held on June 4, 2007, at which claimant
testified as to the extent of his injuries. Additionally, a report prepared by
Enrique Armenta, M.D., who examined the claimant pursuant to defendant’s
Demand for Medical Examination, was received into evidence, including
photographs taken by Dr. Armenta (Exhibit A). Claimant’s medical records
maintained by the defendant were also introduced and received into evidence
As set forth in this Court’s prior Decision on liability, claimant was
injured on July 16, 1995, when he slipped on a table while cleaning oven hoods
in the kitchen at Watertown Correctional Facility, and fell into a pot of
boiling water. Claimant testified that he suffered burns on both legs up to his
knees, but that his feet were not burned because he was wearing work boots at
the time. Claimant testified that immediately after he fell, he pulled up his
pant legs and noticed that his skin was peeled down from the knee to just above
the ankle on both legs, and that he tried to “put his skin back on his
As set forth in claimant’s medical records (Exhibit B), claimant was sent
by ambulance to the Emergency Department at Good Samaritan Hospital in
Watertown, where he was treated and released back to the facility that day. At
Good Samaritan Hospital, he was treated with sterile saline soaks, his burns
were dressed with Silvadene and DSD with kerilux wraps on both legs. He was
prescribed Toradol for relief of his pain.
Claimant was then admitted to the Infirmary at Watertown Correctional Facility,
where he stayed for approximately three weeks, until August 2, 1995. During
this time, Silvadene was applied directly to his burns, and claimant was given
Motrin and Tylenol with codeine for pain.
During this period of time in the Infirmary, claimant required a walker, but he
was able to get up from his bed and transfer to a wheelchair, or to a commode
when necessary, without assistance.
The medical records contain notations that claimant continuously complained of
severe pain during this time, and that he was not receiving sufficient pain
medication. Additionally, the records reflect that claimant often refused to
have his dressings changed, due to the pain involved.
On August 2, 1995, claimant was transferred to Walsh Medical Center, where he
remained for approximately one month, until August 31, 1995. As set forth
in the medical records, claimant was in constant pain upon his admission to
Walsh Medical Center, but began to show significant healing and improvement of
his burns shortly after his admission. The medical records indicate that by the
time he was discharged from Walsh Medical Center on August 31, 1995, claimant
had shown significant improvement, and he was able to walk without requiring a
walker by that time.
Upon his discharge from Walsh Medical Center, he was transferred to the
Infirmary at Mid-State Correctional Facility, where he remained for
approximately two weeks, until September 12, 1995.
Upon his release from the Infirmary, claimant continued to receive topical
treatment for his burns, and medication for pain relief, until April, 1996.
There was no testimony from claimant, or through the introduction of any other
medical records, to indicate that claimant received any medical treatments for
his injuries subsequent to that date.
The medical records also establish that claimant was born on December 29, 1959,
and, therefore, was 47 years of age at the time of the damages trial.
As mentioned above, the report prepared by Enrique Armenta, M.D., the plastic
surgeon who performed an Independent Medical Examination of claimant, was
received into evidence (Exhibit A). In his report, Dr. Armenta described
the appearance of claimant’s legs as follows:
"On the left side there is a segment 18" all the way from the knee to the
foot, and all the way around the ankle and mid leg [sic] and going only on
isolated spots around both sides of the leg. The posterior aspect of the leg,
the discolored skin measures 13" high and it is almost completely
On the right leg there is a discoloration of the skin in the lower and middle
third portion, measuring 7" in height but complete circumference, which is about
8" to 9".
The discolored area is hyperpigmented; in some areas there is loss of
pigmentation. The quality of skin is thinner and dryer but there is no evidence
of ulcerations and the patient doesn't complain of any breakdowns or any cold
intolerance or any functional problems, except that it feels tight."
Based upon his examination, Dr. Armenta concluded that claimant had sustained
second-degree burns in this accident, but he found no evidence of any
third-degree burns. Furthermore, Dr. Armenta noted that his scars were
permanent, and that claimant can expect to encounter problems in the future due
to the hyperpigmentation and thinness of the skin, if his legs are exposed to
the sun. He did not find any limitations on motion, and no evidence of any
functional problems except for some symptoms of tightness, which he also found
to be of a permanent nature.
During his trial testimony, the Court personally reviewed the scarring which is
evident on both legs.
Based upon the trial testimony, as well as the medical records received into
evidence, the Court finds that claimant suffered severe pain immediately
following his fall into the pot of boiling water, and that this pain continued
during the various courses of treatment he received for his burns. The medical
records establish that claimant continuously received pain medication, which was
required not only for the pain caused by his fall, but also for the treatments
that he received for his burns. Furthermore, it has been established that
claimant was confined, either to prison infirmaries or the Walsh Medical Center,
for approximately two months following his accident, during which time claimant
received intensive and painful treatments. The medical records also establish
that even after his discharge from the Infirmary at Mid-State Correctional
Facility, claimant continued to receive treatment and medication for his
injuries while incarcerated.
Furthermore, based upon the Court’s personal examination of
claimant’s legs, as well as the report made by Dr. Armenta, the Court
finds that claimant has extensive scarring between the ankle and knee of each
leg, and that this scarring appears to be permanent in nature. His legs, in
different areas, exhibit both a loss of pigmentation and hyperpigmentation, and
claimant testified to tightness in both legs due to the scarring.
There was no testimony or any evidence of any economic loss suffered by
claimant as a result of the injuries suffered by him in this accident.
Accordingly, based upon the foregoing findings and the entire trial record, the
Court finds that claimant has suffered damages of $120,000.00 for past pain and
suffering, and $40,000.00 for future pain and suffering, resulting in total
damages of $160,000.00. This award must be reduced by the percentage of
claimant’s comparative fault as found in this Court’s prior Decision
on liability. As a result, after applying claimant’s 30% comparative
fault to the total award, the Court hereby awards claimant the sum of
The amount awarded herein shall carry interest at the rate of 9% per year from
the date of the determination of liability on March 21, 2006 (Dingle v
Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 85 NY2d 657; Love v State of New
York, 78 NY2d 540).
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.