New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
WILLARD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2010-010-016, Claim No. 116667


Inmate pro se claim dismissed, defendant properly denied claimant possession of a keyboard.

Case information

UID: 2010-010-016
Claimant short name: WILLARD
Footnote (claimant name) :
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 116667
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: Terry Jane Ruderman
Claimant's attorney: CHRISTOPHER WILLARD
Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO
Attorney General for the State of New York
By: Elyse Angelico, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 5, 2010
City: White Plains
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant seeks damages for the alleged mental anguish that he suffered during his incarceration at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (Sing Sing), when in December of 2008, the package room refused delivery of an electrical keyboard with digital enhancements that claimant had ordered from an outside vendor. Claimant also seeks damages in the amount of $10.22 for the cost of forwarding the keyboard to his father (Ex. 5).

Claimant filed a grievance regarding the facility's denial of his keyboard. After a full hearing and investigation, the grievance was denied based upon a finding that Directive 4911, dated November 26, 2007, was posted in the facility and prohibited musical instruments with "digitally enhanced or re-manufactured lifelike sounds (i.e., voices, ringing phone tones, animal sounds, etc.)" (Ex. B, p 20). Claimant argues that he was not aware of this Directive and that it was not posted in the facility. He testified that he relied upon Directive 4911, dated May 22, 2006, which did not have any prohibitions on keyboards (Ex. 1).

Sing Sing Captain Neil Ingenito, who has been employed by the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) for 26 years, testified to the procedures for posting Directives. He stated that as the Directives are updated and received from Albany, they are routinely posted in the facility. He further explained that instruments with digitally enhanced lifelike sounds which include sounds similar to gunshots raise security concerns within a prison setting. According to Ingenito, the package room staff properly denied claimant receipt of the keyboard based on Directive 4911, which was in effect when the keyboard was delivered. The denial was then reviewed by a sergeant and subsequently considered in the grievance process, which resulted in a determination denying claimant's grievance.

Upon consideration of all the evidence, including listening to the witnesses testify and observing their demeanor as they did so, the Court finds that defendant properly denied claimant possession of the keyboard consistent with its posted Directive which was in effect at that time, due to the security risks possession of such item posed in the facility.


February 5, 2010

White Plains, New York

Terry Jane Ruderman

Judge of the Court of Claims