In this timely filed Claim, pro se Claimant, Ettore DeTorres, has failed
to establish by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the Defendant was
negligent in losing certain items of his personal property when he was
transferred from Upstate Correctional Facility (Upstate) in Malone to Attica
Correctional Facility (Attica) in Attica. The trial of this Claim was held by
video conference on April 17, 2007, with the parties at Clinton Correctional
Facility in Dannemora and the judge at the Court of Claims in Saratoga
Claimant testified that his property was packed “professionally” by
the staff at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining on July 22, 1999 for
his transfer to Upstate. He said the officers packed his property into four
bags and a fifth bag contained his typewriter and some other items (see
Ex. 3, I-64 Personal Property Transferred Form). Pursuant to Department of
Correctional Services (DOCS) Directive 4917, an inmate transferred from one
facility to another is allowed to transport up to four bags of personal property
and one musical instrument or typewriter (see Ex. 2, p. 1). Directive
4913 provides that personal property in excess of the above limits will be
disposed of or shipped to the new location at the inmate’s expense
(see Ex. 2, p. 5).
Mr. DeTorres further stated that, upon arrival at Upstate, his property was
opened, re-inventoried and “sloppily” re-packed by correction
officers into property bags, and then stored until his Special Housing Unit
(SHU) time was completed. Claimant testified that, upon leaving Upstate, the
property was inventoried again and an eighth bag was packed, which contained
some other items from his cell. Exhibit 4 is dated March 10, 2000 and indicates
Claimant was being transferred from Upstate to Attica. On the bottom right side
of the I-64 form, the number of bags listed is one and the form records that
Correction Officer (C.O.) Dominic checked the property at Upstate on March 9,
2000. The I-64 form indicates the property was received at Attica on March 23,
2000 and was signed for by C.O. Baines and Claimant. The form also contains
several handwritten notations: “3 I-64” “6 Bags Total. 4 on
draft. 2 mailed” “missing 2 bags upon issue” (see Ex.
4). No testimony was elicited as to who made these notations or when they were
made. In addition, Claimant did not offer any other I-64 forms into evidence at
Claimant stated he signed a disbursement form to have money taken from his
inmate account to have the extra bags mailed from Upstate to Attica. He stated
that, after he arrived at Attica, he received two bags of property, then, a week
later, he received a third bag. A few weeks after that, he received a fourth
bag of property that contained State-issued property, which Claimant stated
should not have left Upstate, as well as some of Claimant’s legal and
other personal papers. He testified that he never received the two bags that
were mailed. Claimant stated his belief that the two bags were never mailed.
He filed a claim with the United States Postal Service, but it was denied
because he did not have any postal receipts. Claimant stated that State
employees who handled the mailing of his extra bags could not produce the postal
receipts he needed to establish his Claim.
Claimant presented no other exhibits or witnesses. The Court reserved decision
on the State’s motion to dismiss for failure to establish a prima
facie case. The State rested without calling any witnesses.
Based upon the credible evidence presented at trial, the Court concludes that
personal property of the Claimant was lost during the transfer from Upstate to
Attica. However, the documentary evidence submitted by Claimant fails to
establish which items of personal property were lost. Exhibit 4, the I-64 form
Claimant received when he was transferred from Upstate to Attica, contains a
notation that there are “3 I-64” forms. It appears that Exhibit 4
is a list of items contained in only one bag. Claimant presented no evidence as
to what items were contained in the bags he did not receive, or the value of the
property that was lost as a result. Further, he offered no testimony or
documentary evidence to establish the amount he spent to mail the additional
bags of property that exceeded the State limit.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Claimant has failed to establish his Claim
for lost personal property by a preponderance of the credible evidence and the
Claim is, therefore, dismissed.
The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.