New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LONG v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-031-506, Claim No. 112531


Claimant demonstrated that State had notice of a dangerous condition and failed to take adequate remedial action. State and Claimant each 50% responsible for Claimant’s injuries. Claimant awarded judgment in the amount of


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):

Claimant’s attorney:
Defendant’s attorney:
New York State Attorney General
BY: BONNIE GAIL LEVY, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 26, 2008

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Claimant Samuel E. Long filed claim number 112531 on July 12, 2006, alleging that the State of New York was negligent in failing to repair a broken stool in his cell. On December 2, 2004, the stool allegedly gave way underneath Mr. Long, causing him to fall to the floor and sustain injuries. I conducted a trial of this matter on June 20, 2008 at Auburn Correctional Facility (“Auburn”).

Claimant testified that he moved into his cell a little more than a month before the accident. On the day that he moved in, he was asked to inspect his cell and identify anything that was not in good working order. Claimant alleges that he noticed that the bar attaching the stool to the wall and suspending it in the air was bent. He reported this to the correction officer in the housing unit and was led to believe that it would soon be repaired.

Despite knowing that the chair had not yet been fixed, on December 2, 2004, while sitting on the chair, the bent arm broke completely and Claimant fell to the floor. According to Claimant, he injured his back in the fall. His ambulatory health record (Exhibit 1) does indicate that he fell from his chair and reported back pain relative to that accident. Those documents also show that he was treated conservatively with ibuprofen, a back brace and an analgesic balm. He was also given a series of back stretches to perform, which he admittedly did not do.

Defendant did not call any witnesses in defense of the action but pointed out that the ambulatory health record indicated that Claimant’s injuries were relatively minor.

It is well established that "[t]he State -- just as any other party . . . is responsible, in the operation and management of its schools, hospitals and other institutions, only for hazards reasonably to be foreseen, only for risks reasonably to be perceived" (Flaherty v State of New York, 296 NY 342, 346), and with respect to the safety of persons on its property, the duty of the State is one of reasonable care under the circumstances (see Miller v State of New York, 62 NY2d 506). However, the State is not an insurer of the safety of its premises and negligence cannot be

inferred solely from the happening of an accident (see Killeen v State of New York, 66 NY2d 850, 851; Condon v State of New York, 193 AD2d 874).

In order to establish liability in a premises liability case, Claimant must demonstrate, by a preponderance of the credible evidence, that a dangerous condition existed; that the State either created this dangerous condition, or had actual or constructive notice of the condition and failed to correct the problem within a reasonable time; and that this dangerous condition was a proximate cause of the accident (Dapp v Larson, 240 AD2d 918).

Upon the record before me, I find that Claimant was credible. Claimant has established that the stool provided for him in his cell was damaged when he moved in. The Claimant himself gave the State actual notice of this dangerous condition when he reported the damaged chair to the correction officer on his housing unit. Defendant failed to take appropriate and timely steps to remedy this dangerous condition. I find, therefore, that Defendant is liable for the damages Claimant sustained as a result of his fall in his cell on December 2, 2004.

However, Claimant is not without fault in this incident. Claimant was bound to see that, which by the proper use of his senses, he should have seen (Tarricone v State of New York, 175 AD2d 308, lv denied 78 NY2d 862). Claimant also had actual notice of this dangerous condition as established by, among other things, his own testimony. Claimant continued to use the stool despite knowing that it was damaged. When an inmate fails to use ordinary care and pursues a dangerous course of conduct, he must take responsibility for his own negligence (see Carter v State of New York, 194 AD2d 967). For this reason, I find that Claimant is equally culpable for the fall and resulting injuries.

Based upon the foregoing, I find that liability for this accident should be apportioned 50% to the State and 50% to Claimant for any injuries suffered by Claimant as a result of this accident.

With regard to damages, however, Claimant has failed to offer any proof that he suffered any injury more severe than a strained back. There is no objective evidence of any sort that Claimant was seriously injured in his fall. The only evidence before the Court is Claimant’s subjective complaints of pain. I find that Claimant has been damaged in the amount of $500.00. Therefore, Claimant is hereby awarded the sum of $250.00, representing the Defendant’s 50% portion of these damages.

Any and all other motions on which the Court may have previously reserved or which were not previously determined, are hereby denied.

It is ordered that, to the extent Claimant has paid a filing fee, it is recoverable pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 11-a(2).


September 26, 2008
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims