Claimant seeks damages for purported injuries she sustained on June 14,
2004 when she went to Sing Sing Correctional Facility (Sing Sing) to visit her
husband who was incarcerated.
Claimant testified that she and her two
infant grandchildren had cleared the metal detector at Sing Sing and then
Correction Officer Otis Johnson asked claimant to submit to an ion scanner
Claimant tested positive for the presence of cocaine and was therefore advised
that she had to leave the facility and could not visit her husband that
Claimant maintains that she was wrongly accused of using drugs and that Johnson
was unprofessional and grabbed her grandson. She also claims that Johnson
falsely signed the test result form. Claimant testified that she has been
traumatized by the event and that her grandchildren were terrified. Claimant
seeks one million dollars to compensate for her ordeal. However, at her
examination before trial, claimant testified that she did not want money; she
just wanted to clear her name. Claimant now asserts that she has changed her
Correction Officer Otis Johnson testified that, on June 14, 2004, he
and Correction Officer Alston were assigned to the ion scanner team. Alston was
assigned to operate the machine and Otis was responsible for randomly selecting
visitors for testing. A third officer on the team completed the paperwork. The
machine detects a subject’s contact with illegal drugs. The test does not
determine whether the subject has used drugs and a positive test result is not
an accusation of drug use. The machine is checked and calibrated to the area
and tested by the correction officers before it is used on any subjects.
Johnson testified that before beginning the test on a selected visitor, he would
explain the nature of the test and then the visitor would be afforded the
opportunity to refuse to be tested. Claimant did not refuse to be tested. Otis
then tested claimant’s palms, pockets and shoes by passing over those
areas with a wand that had a cotton swab at the end. Alston then placed the
swab in the machine and it indicated a positive result for cocaine. Pursuant to
Sing Sing’s procedure, a photograph of claimant was taken and the test was
repeated. The second test again resulted in a positive finding for the presence
of cocaine. Contrary to claimant’s testimony, Johnson testified that he
followed all Sing Sing directives and Johnson maintained that he never touched
claimant’s grandson. Claimant was not accused of using drugs and was
allowed entry to Sing Sing on her next visit.
Correction Officer Darrick
Alston testified that he has been employed by the New York State Department of
Correctional Services (DOCS) for 23 years and has an Advanced Training
Certificate for the Ion Scanner. He explained that the machine is used to deter
the entrance of contraband in the facility and has no known health risk. The
scanner is able to detect up to 15 different narcotics and is calibrated to
avoid levels indicating casual contact. Visitors are chosen randomly by a
numeric system, and if they refuse the test, then they are denied entry into the
facility for 48 hours.
On June 14, 2004, Alston was the operator of the
machine so his name was written on the test result form (Ex. 2) by the
correction officer responsible for the clerical tasks. Based upon the ion
scanner receipt, Alston testified that claimant had twice tested positive for
cocaine on June 14, 2004 (Ex. A). Alston followed Sing Sing’s directives
for visitors and use of the ion scanner (Exs. F, G) and neither claimant nor her
grandchildren were mistreated.
Upon consideration of all the evidence,
including listening to the witnesses testify and observing their demeanor as
they did so, the Court finds that claimant has failed to establish any claim for
which money damages may be awarded. Rather, the Court finds that the correction
officers acted appropriately and in accordance with their assigned duties.
Additionally, contrary to claimant’s contention, a positive ion scan is
not an accusation of illegal drug use.
Defendant’s motion to dismiss,
upon which decision was reserved, is now GRANTED.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED
DISMISSING CLAIM NO. 109748.