New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ABDUL-LATIF v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2009-030-507, Claim No. 115656, Motion No. M-75925


Synopsis


Pro se inmate claimant’s motion for summary judgment denied. Claimant did not meet burden on motion. Whether inmate-on-inmate assault was reasonably foreseeable triable issue

Case Information

UID:
2009-030-507
Claimant(s):
ABDALLAH ABDUL-LATIF
1 1.The caption has been amended to reflect the only proper defendant.
Claimant short name:
ABDUL-LATIF
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
The caption has been amended to reflect the only proper defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
115656
Motion number(s):
M-75925
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Claimant’s attorney:
ABDALLAH ABDUL-LATIF, PRO SE
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: ELYSE J. ANGELICO, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
February 3, 2009
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

.
Decision

The following papers were read and considered on claimant’s motion for summary


judgment:

1,2 Motion for Summary Judgment; Affidavit in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment by Abdallah Abdul-Latif, claimant, and attached exhibits

  1. Affirmation in Opposition to Claimant’s Motion for Summary Judgment by Elyse J. Angelico, Assistant Attorney General and attachments
4,5 Filed papers: claim, answer

Abdallah Abdul-Latif alleges in his claim that the New York State Department of Correctional Services [DOCS] failed to protect him from an assault by a fellow inmate on April 26, 2008, causing him injury to his hand. Claimant alleges that his assailant was “mentally challenged” and known to be violent.

Claimant now moves for summary judgment, premised upon his own affidavit, and attached supporting documentation including a misbehavior report written against claimant documenting a fight between him and an inmate Ford on April 26, 2008 [Exhibit A]; a medical consultation form concerning a referral for treatment of claimant’s hand after the incident on April 26, 2008 [Exhibit B]; additional medical records and aftercare instructions concerning his hand fracture [Exhibits C and D]; and a photocopy of the disciplinary hearing disposition dated April 29, 2008 noting that inmate Ford was the aggressor and struck claimant with a broom, and finding claimant not guilty of the facility fighting charge. [Exhibit E].

While the State must provide inmates with reasonable protection against foreseeable risks of attack by other inmates, [Blake v State of New York, 259 AD2d 878 (3d Dept 1999); Sebastiano v State of New York, 112 AD2d 562 (3d Dept 1985)], the State is not the insurer of the safety of inmates, and the fact that an assault occurs does not - on its own - give rise to an inference of negligence. Sebastiano v State of New York, supra. In order to establish liability on the State’s part, an inmate claimant must allege and prove that the State knew or should have known that there was a risk of harm to the claimant that was reasonably foreseeable and inadequately addressed. Sanchez v State of New York, 99 NY2d 247, 253 (2002), see also Sanchez v State of New York, 36 AD3d 1065 (3d Dept 2007), lv denied 8 NY3d 815 (2007); DiDonato v State of New York, 25 AD3d 944 (3d Dept 2006). The Court must look at all the surrounding circumstances to see if the actions taken by the State were reasonable under the circumstances.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Civil Practice Law and Rules §3212(b) provides in pertinent part:

. . . A motion for summary judgment shall be supported by affidavit, by a copy of the pleadings and by other available proof, such as depositions and written admissions. The affidavit shall be by a person having knowledge of the facts; it shall recite all the material facts; and it shall show that there is no defense to the cause of action or that the case of action or defense has no merit. The motion shall be granted if, upon all the papers and proof submitted, the cause of action or defense shall be established sufficiently to warrant the court as a matter of law in directing judgment in favor of any party . . . the motion shall be denied if any party shall show facts sufficient to require a trial of any issue of fact. If it shall appear that any party other than the moving party is entitled to a summary judgment, the court may grant such judgment without the necessity of a cross-motion.


Assuming a movant has made a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by proffering sufficient evidence to eliminate any genuine, material issues of fact, the party in opposition to the motion for summary judgment must tender evidentiary proof in admissible form to establish the existence of material issues which require a trial. Winegrad v New York University Medical Center, 64 NY2d 851 (1985); Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 NY2d 557 (1980).

Claimant has not met his initial burden of showing entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, and has not proffered sufficient evidence to eliminate any material issues of fact. The risk of violent activity in a correctional facility housing dangerous individuals does not mandate imposition of liability for inmate-on-inmate assaults that are not reasonably foreseeable. Claimant has simply not sustained his burden of establishing that the State had actual notice of the harm that befell him, or that constructive notice should reasonably be implied in the surrounding circumstances, to sustain his initial burden on summary judgment. His affidavit and the attached exhibits do not conclude factual issues surrounding the cause of action, when what the State knew or should have known with regard to the foreseeability of the risk of harm to claimant or others is a necessary element. Simply showing that claimant had a fight with inmate Ford and was injured does not conclude the matter.

Accordingly, claimant’s motion for summary judgment [M-75925] is in all respects denied.


February 3, 2009
White Plains, New York

HON. THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Judge of the Court of Claims