Court finds pro se Claimant failed to establish by a preponderance of the credible evidence that Defendant was responsible for the damage to his radio when he was transferred.
|Claimant(s):||DAVID RAMOS, 92-A-5579|
|Claimant short name:||RAMOS|
|Footnote (claimant name) :|
|Defendant(s):||THE STATE OF NEW YORK|
|Footnote (defendant name) :|
|Judge:||CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY|
|Claimant's attorney:||David Ramos, 92-A-5579, Pro Se|
|Defendant's attorney:||ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: Thomas R. Monjeau, Esq., AAG
|Third-party defendant's attorney:|
|Signature date:||January 18, 2018|
|See also (multicaptioned case)|
In this Claim, pro se Claimant, David Ramos, failed to establish by a preponderance of the credible evidence that Defendant was negligent in damaging his radio when he was transferred from the general inmate population at Eastern NY Correctional Facility (hereinafter, "Eastern") to the Special Housing Unit (hereinafter, "SHU") at Eastern. The trial of this Claim was held by video conference on October 19, 2017, with the parties at Eastern and the Judge at the Court of Claims in Albany, New York.
At trial, the Court had marked as Court Exhibits 1 and 2, respectively, Claimant's filed Claim and the State's Answer. Claimant submitted into evidence one document (Ex. 1). The State did not offer any exhibits. Claimant was the only witness to testify at trial.
Claimant testified that, on June 18, 2013, he was transported to SHU from the general population at Eastern, and that Correction Officer Irazarry in SHU packed up Claimant's property. Claimant stated that he did not see his property again until July 30, 2013, when he discovered that his Sangean radio was damaged beyond repair (see Court Ex. 1, ¶ 3). Claimant stated that he submitted an institutional claim for the damage to his radio and it was denied and he was told to file a Claim in this Court (Exs. A and B attached to Court Ex. 1). Claimant testified that the radio was approximately three years old at the time it was damaged, was in good shape, and that he paid $149.99 for it.
To establish a prima facie case of negligence in a bailment transaction, "[C]laimant must demonstrate that his property was deposited with the [D]efendant and the [D]efendant failed to return it … Once [C]laimant meets his burden, there is a rebuttable presumption that the [D]efendant is negligently responsible for the loss, and [D]efendant must come forward with proof explaining the loss" (Rivera v State of New York, UID No. 2008-041-501 [Ct Cl, Milano, J., Jan.10, 2008], quoting Amaker v State of New York, UID No. 2006-032-511 [Ct Cl, Hard, J., Aug. 14, 2006]; see Claflin v Meyer, 75 NY 260, 262 ; Tweedy v Bonnie Castle Yacht Basin, Inc., 73 AD3d 1455 [4th Dept 2010]; Ramirez v City of White Plains, 35 AD3d 698 [2d Dept 2006]; Pollard v State of New York, 173 AD2d 906 [3d Dept 1991]; Feuer Hide & Skin Corp. v Kilmer, 81 AD2d 948 [3d Dept 1981]; Singer Co. v Stott & Davis Motor Express, 79 AD2d 227, 231 [4th Dept 1981]; Board of Educ. of Ellenville Cent. School v Herb's Dodge Sales & Serv., 79 AD2d 1049, 1050 [3d Dept 1981]; Weinberg v D-M Rest. Corp., 60 AD2d 550 [1st Dept 1977]; 7 NYCRR 1700.7[b]). "With respect to value, Claimant must satisfy the court of the fair market value of the items in question … Receipts are the best evidence of fair market value [less depreciation], although uncontradicted testimony concerning replacement value may also be acceptable" (Kilpatrick v State of New York, UID No. 2008-030-001 [Ct Cl, Scuccimarra, J., Jan. 22, 2008]; see Phillips v Catania, 155 AD2d 866 [4th Dept 1989]; Alston v State of New York, 9 Misc 3d 1126[A] [Ct Cl 2005]; Schaffner v Pierce, 75 Misc 2d 21 [Nassau County Dist Ct 1973]).
Based upon the credible evidence submitted at trial and the testimony adduced, the Court finds and concludes that Claimant has failed to establish, by a preponderance of the credible evidence, that the radio he asserts was damaged was part of the property that Claimant turned over to Defendant when he entered SHU, that he owned the radio on the date he entered SHU, or its reasonable value at the time it was allegedly damaged. Claimant offered no documentary evidence to establish that he purchased the radio, that it was in his possession when he entered SHU, or what he paid for the radio.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Claimant failed to establish his Claim for damaged personal property by a preponderance of the credible evidence and the Claim, therefore, is dismissed. All motions made at trial are denied as moot.
The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.
January 18, 2018
Albany, New York
CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY
Judge of the Court of Claims