Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se, alleges that his typewriter and
eyeglasses were damaged during the course of shipment to another correctional
facility. The claim proceeded to trial on April 30, 2009.
Claimant, testifying through an interpreter, stated that his belongings were
packed in four bags for transfer to Arthur Kill Correctional Facility from
McGregor Correctional Facility. His eyeglasses were placed in the same bag as
his typewriter. He testified that he requested that the typewriter be shipped
through the United States mail service but that he was instructed to place it in
a bag. Claimant testified that his typewriter and glasses were broken during
the course of the transfer. He stated that his typewriter now works only
sporadically and that the memory no longer works. The cost of the typewriter
was $169.65, including tax and shipping (see Exhibit 3). The eyeglasses
were relatively new and cost $120.50 (Exhibit 2).
In addition to the receipts for the purchase of the typewriter and eyeglasses
(Exhibits 2 and 3), the Inmate Claim Form was received in evidence as claimant's
Exhibit 1 and the 2064 form reflecting the property transferred from Mt.
McGregor to Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on February 2, 2005 was received
in evidence as claimant's Exhibit 4. The 2064 form reflects the shipment of
the typewriter and eyeglasses on February 2, 2005 and the receipt of this
property in Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on February 5, 2005.
On cross-examination claimant testified that Exhibit 3 is the receipt for the
purchase of the typewriter in 1992. He testified that he no longer uses the
typewriter because it now works only sporadically. The cost of the typewriter
excluding tax and shipping was $145.00. He testified that he still has the
damaged eyeglasses although he did not bring them to trial.
The State as a bailee of an inmate's personal property owes a common-law duty
to secure the property in its possession (Pollard v State of New York,
173 AD2d 906 ; see also 7 NYCRR part 1700). A rebuttable
presumption of negligence arises where it is established that the property was
delivered to the defendant with the understanding that it would be returned, and
that the defendant failed to return the property or returned it in a damaged
condition (Ramirez v City of White Plains, 35 AD3d 698 ; Feuer
Hide & Skin Corp. v Kilmer, 81 AD2d 948 ; Weinberg v D-M Rest.
Corp., 60 AD2d 550 ; see also Claflin v Meyer, 75 NY 260
). Thereafter the burden of coming forward with evidence that the loss
or destruction of the property was not its fault is upon the defendant (Feuer
Hide & Skin Corp. v Kilmer , supra; Board of Educ. of
Ellenville Cent. School v Herb's Dodge Sales & Serv., 79 AD2d 1049
; Weinberg v D-M Rest. Corp., supra).
Claimant sufficiently established by a preponderance of the credible evidence
that he delivered the typewriter and eyeglasses to the defendant and that these
items were returned to him in a damaged condition. While these facts were not
contested, the defendant established that the typewriter was 13 years old at the
time it was damaged and was still usable sporadically. Upon consideration of
the age of the typewriter, the Court will award the claimant $50.00 for the
damage to the typewriter. Although the receipt for the purchase of the
eyeglasses reflects that the claimant paid $120.50 on October 4, 2004, claimant
did not bring the glasses with him to trial. As claimant testified that he has
not replaced the glasses it appears they are still usable and the Court awards
the claimant $50.00 for the damage to his glasses.
Based on the foregoing, the Court hereby awards total damages to the claimant
of $100.00 plus interest at the statutory rate from February 5, 2005 (CPLR 5001
[a] and [b]).
To the extent the claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant
to Court of Claims Act § 11-a (2).
Let judgment be entered accordingly.