New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RODRIGUEZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-045-501, Claim No. 108648


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):

Gina M. Lopez-Summa
Claimant’s attorney:
Michael Rodriguez, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Jeane Strickland Smith, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
March 5, 2007

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Michael Rodriguez, claimant, filed a claim on December 12, 2003 in which he alleged that defendant, the State of New York, through its agents, failed to properly maintain and repair the “swing down” window of his cell while he was incarcerated at the Green Haven Correctional Facility. On January 26, 2007, a trial was held at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility concerning this matter.

Defendant has a duty to act as a reasonable person would in maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe condition (Basso v Miller, 40 NY2d 233 [1976]; Preston v State of New York, 59 NY2d 997 [1983]). Defendant is not an insurer of an inmate’s safety and negligence cannot be inferred solely from the occurrence of an accident that was not reasonably foreseeable (Killeen v State of New York, 66 NY2d 850 [1985]; Codrington v State of New York, 19 AD3d 443 [2d Dept 2005]). In order to recover damages for a breach of this duty, claimant must establish that defendant created or had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition that existed and caused the injury (Piacquadio v Recine Realty Corp., 84 NY2d 967, 969 [1994]; Candela v City of New York, 8 AD3d 45 [1st Dept 2004]).

In this case claimant established at trial, without contradiction, that on November 14, 2003 at 4:30 a.m. a strong gust of wind forced the window in his cell to swing down and strike him above his right eye while he was sleeping. Claimant testified that on that morning there was neither a chain nor an operational hook on the window, which could have prevented the window from swinging open. As a result, claimant was struck on his head by the window causing a laceration above his right eye. Claimant was then taken to the infirmary where he received sutures for his injury. Claimant filed a grievance subsequent to the incident and the window was repaired thereafter.

Claimant stated that he was housed in his cell at the Green Haven Correctional Facility for the three months preceding November 14, 2003. Nevertheless, he failed to make any requests to the maintenance staff or the superintendent of the facility for repairs to the window prior to the subject occurrence. Claimant explained that he did not view the condition of the window as posing a danger or risk prior to the incident in question.

Claimant did not present sufficient evidence showing that the broken chain and the inoperable hook were readily visible prior to the accident or that those conditions existed for a sufficient period of time so that defendant could discover them and repair the window (Gordon v American Museum of Natural History, 67 NY2d 836, 837 [1986]). Additionally, claimant failed to provide the Court with any evidence establishing that defendant created the defective condition of the window.

Consequently, the Court finds that claimant has failed to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that defendant had actual or constructive notice of the condition of the window or that defendant created the condition of the window. Thus, defendant cannot be held liable for claimant’s injuries.

Therefore, based upon the foregoing, the claim is dismissed.

The Clerk of the Court of Claims is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

March 5, 2007
Hauppauge, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims