New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MURRAY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-010-053, Claim No. 104131


Claimant offered no evidence to establish the medical treatment rendered during his incarceration constituted a departure from the applicable standard.

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):

Terry Jane Ruderman
Claimant’s attorney:
Defendant’s attorney:
Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 14, 2007
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant alleges that during his incarceration at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (Sing Sing), defendant failed to provide him with adequate medical care in connection with his gastro-intestinal problems. Claimant further contends that delays in diagnosis or in treatment aggravated his condition. Defendant maintains that it responded to claimant’s complaints in a timely manner and took reasonable and appropriate measures to diagnose and treat claimant’s condition.

Claimant testified that in 1999 he presented at sick call with stomach pains and was treated for hemorrhoids. As his condition worsened, he returned to sick call more than a dozen times until he was finally sent to St. Agnes Hospital (St. Agnes), an outside hospital, for tests. The following day, claimant’s “stomach erupted”[1] and emergency surgery was performed resulting in a partial loss of his colon and a colostomy bag.

Physician’s Assistant Phillip Williams testified on behalf of defendant. He reviewed claimant’s medical records and concluded that the medical treatment claimant had received was appropriate. Williams testified that on November 30, 1998, claimant presented at sick call, with a history of peptic ulcers and diabetes, and complaints of rectal bleeding. Claimant was given instructions about hemorrhoids and constipation (Ex. A, p 65). Two weeks later, claimant returned to sick call again with complaints of rectal bleeding. He did not return to sick call again until May 24, 1999. At that time, he complained of an ulcer, upper gastric pain after meals and passing bright red blood. His abdomen was soft and not distended. Claimant was treated with Maalox and Pepto-Bismol (Ex. A, p 57). Three weeks later, he complained of urinary frequency and was prescribed the antibiotic Cipro (Ex. A, p 55). An x-ray taken on June 14, 1999 revealed no evidence of an acute abdomen.

On July 17, 1999, claimant again presented at sick call. He complained of abdominal pain, blood in his stool, and weight loss. A physical examination revealed normal bowel sounds and a soft abdomen. He was diagnosed with anemia, given iron tablets and a stool specimen test (Ex. A, p 53). The results of the stool test were negative for blood. After a July 26, 1999 sick call visit, a GI consult was ordered. This was followed by an upper GI series performed at St. Agnes on August 25, 1999. The results were normal. On September 1, 1999, a CT scan of claimant’s abdomen and pelvis was done at St. Agnes. The conclusion of the study was normal with the possibility of diverticulosis and a recommendation for a sigmoidoscopy. There was no demonstration of acute abdomen ulcers and no indication of anything of an emergent nature. Claimant was not admitted to St. Agnes and was sent back to Sing Sing.

The next day, September 2, 1999, claimant was seen at the Sing Sing emergency room with persistent abdominal pains and the presence of blood in his rectum and urine. After an evaluation by Physician’s Assistant Muthra, claimant was transferred to St. Agnes for treatment. Claimant remained at St. Agnes until September 30, 1999. The discharge summary from St. Agnes reveals that claimant had an anal fistula. During his hospital stay, claimant developed septic shock and was diagnosed with a perforated viscus. He underwent surgery and had a sigmoid colectomy, colostomy, and abdominal abscess drainage. He was also treated for colitis, dehydration and wound infection. Claimant was released from St. Agnes on September 30, 1999 with recommended discharge orders which were followed by Sing Sing.

According to Williams, Sing Sing adhered to the appropriate procedures for a patient complaining of stomach pain. In order to ascertain the source of the abdominal pain, claimant, who had a history of peptic ulcers, was evaluated several times. Williams explained that it was proper to treat claimant initially with medications such as antacids and Zantac. When those proved ineffective, claimant underwent an upper GI series, a CT scan, and blood and stool specimen tests. At claimant’s September 1, 1999 visit to St. Agnes, there were no signs of an acute process and no indication of an emergent situation pending; therefore claimant was returned to Sing Sing.

To establish a claim of medical malpractice, 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 or that the treatment rendered to claimant constituted a departure from the applicable standard. Significantly, claimant failed to present any competent medical evidence, either from a treating physician or from an expert whose opinion was based upon the available medical records, to support his allegations of medical 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, 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” (Trottie v State of New York, 39 AD3d 1094). 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]).

All motions not previously ruled upon are hereby DENIED.


November 14, 2007
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]. All quotations are to the trial notes or digital sound recording unless otherwise indicated.