New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

COMBES v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-044-019, Claim No. 109385


Synopsis


Claimant awarded $750 in damages-only trial, for injuries incurred in a brief altercation while claimant, an inmate, was being held in protective custody

Case Information

UID:
2007-044-019
Claimant(s):
GEORGE COMBES
Claimant short name:
COMBES
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
109385
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
CATHERINE C. SCHAEWE
Claimant’s attorney:
GEORGE COMBES, pro se
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: James E. Shoemaker, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 26, 2007
City:
Binghamton
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

.
Decision

Claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, filed this claim against the State of New York (defendant) seeking recovery for injuries incurred when he was physically assaulted by another inmate while being held in voluntary protective custody. His attacker was being held in involuntary protective custody, and had an extensive history of violent behavior and disciplinary problems. Liability was essentially conceded by defendant, and claimant's motion for summary judgment was granted, solely with respect to liability, by Decision and Order of the Court (Combes v State of New York, Ct Cl, July 21, 2006, Sise, P.J., Claim No. 109385, Motion No.

M-71295 [UID # 2006-028-570]). A trial to determine claimant's damages was held at Elmira Correctional Facility on October 23, 2007.


Claimant testified that he was punched by his assailant once beneath the left eye, once behind the left ear, and once on top of the head. Claimant stated he took aspirin for headaches for three to four days after the assault. Claimant also testified that he has suffered nervousness and emotional distress as the result of the altercation. He said that he has not sought assistance from mental health services, because he does not “trust the State.”[1]

Claimant introduced the pertinent ambulatory health record and defendant introduced the inmate injury report into evidence. Although the inmate injury report, signed by claimant, states in part: “[t]he inmate . . . punched me in the [left] eye one time,” the photographs introduced by defendant also show a contusion on and above the left ear, corroborating his testimony. Both the inmate injury report and the ambulatory health record indicate that the injury to claimant's face was merely a superficial abrasion, with minor redness and swelling. The infirmary cleansed the abrasion with betadine and claimant applied ice to the area. The minor nature of the injury is confirmed by the pictures.

The Court finds that claimant was caused pain and suffering by the assault, as well as non-permanent physical injuries, and that he is entitled to compensation of $750 therefore. Claimant's proof was insufficient, however, to support a finding that he incurred damages due to either emotional distress or lost earnings.

To the extent that claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 11-a (2).

Let judgment be entered accordingly.

November 26, 2007
Binghamton, New York

HON. CATHERINE C. SCHAEWE
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]. All quotes are taken from the Court's recording of the proceedings.