New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MARTINEZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-041-509, Claim No. 107491


Synopsis


Claim alleging that claimant fell due to a hole in the floor is dismissed where preponderance of the evidence shows that claimant fell for reasons unrelated to the claimed hazard.

Case Information

UID:
2007-041-509
Claimant(s):
SHAWN MARTINEZ
Claimant short name:
MARTINEZ
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
107491
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANK P. MILANO
Claimant’s attorney:
SHAWN MARTINEZPro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO
New York State Attorney General
By: Frederick H. McGown, III Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
August 27, 2007
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision


Shawn Martinez (claimant) alleges that he fell over a hole in the floor of the Clinton Correctional Facility (Clinton) laundry room on January 6, 2003, suffering injuries to his right arm. He described the injuries to his arm as “superficial scratches” and stated that the arm was “red and swollen,” that it was treated with ice in the prison hospital on the day of the fall and that a black and blue mark resulted the following day.

There was no dispute at trial that an approximate 3½ inch - 4 inch wide hole in the floor of the Clinton laundry room, caused by the removal of a pipe attached to a removed laundry machine, had existed for a period of time, that it was open and obvious and that its existence was known to both claimant and defendant.

The only dispute was whether claimant fell or tripped over the hole in the floor. Claimant, his only witness, alleges he did. Defendant, through witness Donald Kramer, contradicts claimant’s allegation. Mr. Kramer, a Department of Correctional Services employee on duty on the date and at the time of the incident in the Clinton laundry room, having worked in that laundry room for over 20 years, was defendant’s only witness.

Mr. Kramer, while not observing claimant’s fall, reported seeing claimant rise from the floor in the immediate aftermath of the fall and further reported that while rising, claimant was 10 to 15 feet from the hole in the floor. His observation went uncontradicted and unchallenged. Mr. Kramer further testified, without objection, that subsequent to the fall, another inmate present at the time of claimant’s fall, reported to him that claimant fell as a result of being slapped during a verbal confrontation with another individual.

Claimant bears the burden of proving his case by a preponderance of the credible evidence (Zi Guang v State of New York, 263 AD2d 745, 746 [3d Dept 1999]). In the Court of Claims, credibility assessments and resolution of questions of fact are within the province of the Court (see Pursel v State of New York, 226 AD2d 872, 873 [3d Dept 1996]; Weber v State of New York, 107 AD2d 929, 931 [3d Dept 1985]).

Having had an opportunity to observe the two witnesses at trial and assess their demeanor as they gave their testimony, the Court credits Mr. Kramer’s testimony. The Court therefore finds, as a matter of fact, that Mr. Martinez did not fall in the Clinton laundry room on January 6, 2003 by reason of having tripped over the aforementioned hole in the floor.

The claimant has failed to prove his case. The claim is dismissed.

All motions not previously decided are hereby denied. Let judgement be entered accordingly.


August 27, 2007
Albany, New York

HON. FRANK P. MILANO
Judge of the Court of Claims