New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
RODGERS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2009-015-505, Claim No. 113187

Synopsis

Bailment claim for loss of television during course of facility transfer was dismissed following a trial. Hearing disposition reflects television was confiscated as contraband prior to the transfer.

Case information

UID: 2009-015-505
Claimant(s): LARRY RODGERS
Claimant short name: RODGERS
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 113187
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: Larry Rodgers, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General
By: Stephen Maher, Esquire
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 16, 2010
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, a pro se inmate, alleges that the defendant negligently destroyed his television during the course of his transfer from Great Meadow Correctional Facility to Upstate Correctional Facility on June 5, 2006. The claim proceeded to trial on December 2, 2009.

At trial the claimant testified that he became aware that his television was missing upon reviewing his property following his arrival at Upstate Correctional Facility. He acknowledged that the Personal Property Transfer Form completed at Great Meadow Correctional Facility does not indicate his ownership of a television. Claimant testified, however, that he was informed by a draft officer at Great Meadow Correctional Facility that his television had to be destroyed because Upstate Correctional Facility did not hold or store televisions. According to Mr. Rodgers, this information was inaccurate and he was informed by a correction officer at Upstate Correctional Facility that they would, in fact, store televisions during the period an inmate was confined to the facility's special housing unit. Although the claimant testified that he purchased the television in September 2004 for $89.00, he possessed no proof of the purchase.

The claimant was not made subject to cross-examination and the defendant offered no witnesses at trial.

The documents received in evidence as Exhibit A include an Inmate Misbehavior Report dated May 21, 2006 and a Disciplinary Hearing Disposition signed and dated by the inmate on May 24, 2006. The misbehavior report indicates that a search of the claimant's cell was performed on May 21, 2006 and "the following articles of contraband was/were found and seized: (1) TV, (1) Hot Pot, (1) cell lamp, and (1) altered nail clippers" (see Inmate Misbehavior Report included as a part of Exhibit A). Claimant was charged with a violation of inmate rules 113.11 (possession of an altered item) and 113.15 [see 7 NYCRR 270.2], which states the following:

"An inmate shall not purchase, sell, loan, give or exchange a personally owned article without authorization."

As reflected on the hearing disposition sheet, claimant was found not guilty of possessing an altered item and guilty of possessing property that was the subject of an unauthorized exchange (see Hearing Disposition included in Exhibit A ). In the statement of evidence relied upon the Hearing Officer noted, with respect to the television, claimant's testimony that he received the television and hot pot from another inmate prior to that inmate's transfer. Significantly in this regard, Directive 4921 requires the Superintendent's approval when an inmate wishes to transfer a television to another inmate upon his release or transfer to another facility. The penalty imposed at the conclusion of the hearing on May 24, 2006 for the claimant's violation of inmate rule 113.15 was the confiscation of the televison and hot pot. Based on this evidence, the Court cannot conclude, as claimant alleges, that "DOCS negligently destroyed my personal property during the process of being transferred from Great Meadow Correctional Facility to Upstate Correctional Facility. . .on the 5th day of June, 2006" (Exhibit 1, claim, 2). The claimant simply failed to establish that the television was delivered to the defendant with the understanding that it would be returned as is required to establish a bailment cause of action (see Ramirez v City of White Plains, 35 AD3d 698 [2006]; Feuer Hide & Skin Corp. v Kilmer, 81 AD2d 948 [1981]; Weinberg v D-M Rest. Corp., 60 AD2d 550 [1977]; see also Claflin v Meyer, 75 NY 260 [1878]).

Accordingly, the claim is dismissed.

Let judgment be entered accordingly.

February 16, 2010

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims