Claimant seeks damages for injuries he allegedly sustained during his
incarceration at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (Sing Sing). Claimant contends
that, upon entering the New York State Correctional System in March 2005, an
examination revealed that he was in need of dental work; however his treatment
was delayed and not proper.
Claimant testified that after his initial examination, he made several
requests to see a dentist (Exs. 2-4). He then filed a grievance regarding his
treatment (Ex. 5). The grievance was denied:
). Claimant further stated that after Dr. Stukes and Dr. Willim
treated claimant’s cavities, claimant experienced pain. He further
maintained that other “procedures should have been done” and it was
wrong to have “pain.”
Dr. Susan Stukes, a dentist employed at Sing Sing since 1997, testified that
she treated claimant twice in 2005 and examined his dental records (Ex. A).
Stukes explained that when claimant entered the correctional system, he had
several large cavities and the beginnings of infections. She also noted that an
incomplete root canal, which claimant has previously undergone, had since
deteriorated. Stukes maintained that claimant’s complaints of pain and
sensitivity to hot and cold liquids is common after having undergone fillings.
Claimant’s gums had also started to recede and his condition was treated
appropriately. In sum, Stukes testified that claimant had multiple dental
issues which were appropriately addressed.
It is well settled that the State owes a duty of ordinary care to provide its
charges with adequate dental and medical care (see Mullally v State of
New York, 289 AD2d 308; Kagan v State of New York, 221 AD2d 7, 8).
To prove that the State failed in its duty and committed malpractice, claimant
must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the State departed from
good and accepted standards of care and that such departure was a substantial
factor or proximate cause of the alleged injury (see Mullally v State
of New York, supra; Kaminsky v State of New York, 265 AD2d
306). A departure from good and accepted medical practice cannot be inferred
from expert testimony; rather the expert must expressly state, with a degree of
medical certainty, that defendant’s conduct constitutes a deviation from
the requisite standard of care (see Stuart v Ellis Hosp., 198 AD2d
559; Sohn v Sand, 180 AD2d 789; Salzman v Alan S. Rosell, D.D.S.,
P.C., 129 AD2d 833).
Claimant must prove, inter alia, that his “injuries proximately resulted
from the defendant’s departure from the required standard of
performance” (Tonetti v Peekskill Community Hosp., 148 AD2d 525).
Here, claimant offered no evidence to establish the requisite standard of care
or that the treatment rendered constituted a departure from the applicable
standard. Significantly, claimant failed to present any competent medical
evidence to support his allegations of malpractice. Claimant’s own
unsubstantiated assertions are insufficient to establish merit and a prima facie
case (see, Wells v State of New York, 228 AD2d 581; Mosberg v
Elahi, 176 AD2d 710, affd 80 NY2d 941; Quigley v Jabbur, 124
AD2d 398). Moreover, the evidence is inconclusive and purely speculative as to
whether such conduct, even if negligent, was a proximate cause of
claimant’s condition (see Naughton v Arden Hill Hosp., 215
AD2d 810 [even assuming defendant committed malpractice in its failure to
diagnose and admit patient to hospital, there was no proof of proximate cause,
i.e., that, had the patient been admitted, the risk of a heart attack would have
been prevented or lessened]; Brown v State of New York, 192 AD2d 936 [no
proof that delay in treatment contributed to the loss of claimant’s
larynx]). “Moreover, even assuming improper delay in providing treatment,
it was incumbent upon claimant to show by competent expert evidence that the
delay was a cause of his alleged ensuing medical problems” (see
Trottie v State of New York, 39 AD3d 1094, 1095).
ACCORDINGLY, LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED DISMISSING CLAIM NO. 112003.