New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BROWN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2017-015-276, Claim No. 124387

Synopsis

Pro se inmate claim alleging injuries from exposure to a germicidal cleaner was dismissed as claimant failed to present expert opinion that exposure could have caused the injuries complained of.

Case information

UID: 2017-015-276
Claimant(s): RAYMOND BROWN
Claimant short name: BROWN
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 124387
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: Raymond Brown, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General
By: Douglas R. Kemp, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: November 6, 2017
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The claim alleges the claimant was injured as a result of his exposure to a germicidal cleaner at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Great Meadow) on October 28, 2013. A trial of this matter was held on September 14, 2017.

The claimant testified that on October 28, 2013 he and the rest of his company were seated eating lunch in the mess hall at Great Meadow. Another inmate was attacked and cut by a sharp object which resulted in blood "all over" the area where the claimant was seated eating his lunch.(1) The inmates were instructed to remain in their seats while two inmates were assigned to clean the spilled blood, during which they sprayed a green colored germicidal cleaner.

After the claimant and his company were released to the yard for recreation he began to feel dizzy and experienced difficulty breathing, headache, vomiting and burning eyes. The claimant was taken to the infirmary on a stretcher where he was examined by a nurse for a brief period and then sent to his cell. Claimant attended emergency sick call the next morning where he was given ibuprofen and again returned to his cell. He returned to the infirmary on several occasions thereafter but was unsatisfied with the treatment provided. According to the claimant, he was never properly examined or treated for his symptoms and was returned to his cell rather than being held at the infirmary overnight for observation.

On cross-examination claimant acknowledged that he failed to present expert testimony regarding the effect of the germicidal cleaner used in cleaning the blood spill on the claimant's health. According to the claimant, he identified the particular germicidal cleaner which he alleges caused his injuries by speaking to one of the inmates assigned to clean up the blood spill in the mess hall.

In cases such as this, alleging injuries from exposure to toxic chemicals, a claimant cannot prevail absent expert opinion evidence demonstrating that he or she was exposed to a toxin capable of causing the particular injuries suffered, and that the claimant was exposed to levels of the toxin sufficient to produce such injuries (Sean R. v BMW of N. Am., LLC, 26 NY3d 801, 808 [2016]). No expert testimony was presented in this case. Moreover, nothing in the product literature, received in evidence as Exhibit 7, indicates the cleaner was used improperly. As a result, the claim must be dismissed as a matter of law.

Accordingly, the claim is dismissed.

Let judgment be entered accordingly.

November 6, 2017

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims


1. Quotation is taken from the trial recording.