New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CHARLEMAGNE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-016-060, Claim No. 107201


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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant’s attorney:
Esteban Charlemagne, Pro se
Defendant’s attorney:
Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Roberto Barbosa, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
January 3, 2008
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This decision follows the trial of the claim of Esteban Charlemagne, in which it is alleged that because of defendant’s negligence, Mr. Charlemagne fell in a shower at Woodbourne Correctional Facility on September 27, 2002.[1]

Claimant testified that on the date in question, he fell in the shower of Woodbourne’s E1 housing unit, injuring his shoulder. According to claimant, he did not see any shower mats in the area prior to his fall. He testified that he had previously fallen in the same area in 1998 and maintained that other inmates had also fallen there. He did not at any time file a grievance as to the shower. Asked about his current physical condition, Charlemagne stated that his back hurts most of the time, and that he was told he has arthritis. Claimant added that he suffers from constant pain, which keeps him awake at night.

Defendant called Correction Officer Scott Mentnech, who described the shower area as an open stall with four shower heads. He described it as having tiled floors and rubber mats which are put down and removed by inmate porters. Defendant’s exhibit A, which consists of logbook entries for September 24, 2002, indicates that Mentnech was the “First Officer” on duty. The 9:57 a.m. entry for that day states, “Inmate Charlemagne . . . notified me that he had slipped on the rubber mat in shower. No known injuries reported.” The 10:00 a.m. entry states, “Inmate Charlemagne sent to medical emergency from previous noted fall.”

Defendant also called Dr. Frank Lancellotti, a physician at Woodbourne, who testified that he had provided medical care to claimant. Introduced through Dr. Lancellotti was claimant’s ambulatory health record for September 24, 2002, which states that claimant “slip[ped] on floor while showering . . . slipped on shower mat . . . [complains of decreased range of motion and increased] pain in both wrists . . . shoulder [and] lower back. [No] swelling . . . [no] redness noted.” Lancellotti testified that claimant had an x-ray on September 27, 2002, which showed that there were no fractures resulting from his fall.
* * *
The State has a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises. Basso v Miller, 40 NY2d 233, 386 NYS2d 564 (1976). But the State is not an insurer and negligence may not be inferred solely from the occurrence of an accident. See Mochen v State of New York, 57 AD2d 719, 396 NYS2d 113 (4th Dept 1977). In order to establish liability, claimant must show either that defendant created, or had actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition which caused his accident. See, for example, Bernard v Waldbaum, Inc., 232 AD2d 596, 597, 648 NYS2d 700, 701 (2d Dept 1996).

In this case, claimant testified that he did not recall there being any mats in the shower area prior to his fall. However, both the logbook entry and ambulatory health record relating to the incident indicate that claimant reported that he slipped on a shower mat; I find such to be the case. Claimant failed to show that the mats were in some way dangerous, for example, improperly placed, or that there was otherwise a dangerous condition in the shower.

In sum, Esteban Charlemagne failed to prove defendant’s negligence by a fair preponderance of the evidence adduced at trial, and accordingly, claim no. 107201 is dismissed. The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

January 3, 2008
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1].Although the claim has the date of claimant’s fall as September 27, 2002, exhibits A and B indicate that it actually occurred on September 24, 2002. It is also alleged in the claim that defendant failed to provide Mr. Charlemagne with proper medical care, but such issue was not addressed at trial.