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