New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
DAVIDSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-32-002, Claim No. 118778

Synopsis

Claimant failed to prove by a preponderance of the credible evidence that correctional staff deviated from accepted standards of medical care. Claimant failed to produce expert medical testimony at trial to support the claim.

Case information

UID: 2018-32-002
Claimant(s): NOEL DAVIDSON
Claimant short name: DAVIDSON
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 118778
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: JUDITH A. HARD
Claimant's attorney: Noel Davidson, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Hon. Eric T. Schneiderman, NYS Attorney General
By: Ray A. Kyles, Assistant Attorney General,
Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 16, 2018
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se, filed the instant claim on August 9, 2010, alleging that he received inadequate medical care while incarcerated at Five Points Correctional Facility (FPCF). Specifically, claimant alleges that he received inadequate care for his frequent urination.

A trial was conducted on December 18, 2017 by video-conference from FPCF. Claimant testified on his own behalf and offered several exhibits in support of his claim. Defendant did not call any witnesses, but submitted several exhibits in opposition to the claim.

FACTS

At trial, claimant testified that he arrived at FPCF on May 29, 2008. During his intake interview, he complained that he was suffering from frequent urination. He was not previously hospitalized or treated for this condition prior to his arrival at FPCF, and he testified that his problems started upon his arrival to FPCF. Claimant put in for sick calls on May 30, 2008; June 9, 2008; and June 16, 2008 and claims that he did not receive adequate treatment when examined by FPCF medical staff. He further claims that lab work for his medical issue was not performed until December 12, 2009. Claimant was examined by specialists outside of FPCF on March 24, 2010 and July 16, 2010, but alleges that he should have been taken to see a specialist sooner. In sum, claimant alleges that FPCF medical staff's inadequate care and delay in sending him for lab work and to see an outside specialist caused his kidney condition to worsen from May 29, 2008 through August 9, 2010--the date that he filed the instant claim.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

"It is fundamental law that the State has a duty to provide reasonable and adequate medical care to the inmates of its prisons" (Rivers v State of New York, 159 AD2d 788, 789 [3d Dept 1990], lv denied 76 NY2d 701 [1990]; accord Auger v State of New York, 263 AD2d 929, 931 [3d Dept 1999]). "Where an inmate alleges that defendant abdicated its duty to provide adequate medical care, he or she must present competent evidence demonstrating defendant's common-law negligence or that it departed from accepted standards of care and that such deviation was the proximate cause of the sustained injuries" (Knight v State of New York, 127 AD3d 1435, 1435 [3d Dept 2015]). "Whether the claim is grounded in negligence or medical malpractice, where medical issues are not within the ordinary experience and knowledge of lay persons, expert medical testimony is a required element of a prima facie case" (Myers v State of New York, 46 AD3d 1030, 1031 [3d Dept 2007] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see Knight v State of New York, 127 AD3d at 1435; Wood v State of New York, 45 AD3d 1198, 1198 [3d Dept 2007]).

Upon application of these principles to the facts presented here and considering claimant's testimony and demeanor at trial, the Court finds that he has failed to establish, by a preponderance of the credible evidence, his claim against defendant.

Claimant alleges that FPCF's medical staff was negligent in treating his kidney condition from May 29, 2008 through August 9, 2010. However, claimant presented no expert testimony on this issue. Specifically, the Court received no expert testimony regarding whether the alleged delay in treatment caused claimant's kidney condition to worsen over two years. As such information lies outside the experience and knowledge of a layperson, the Court finds claimant's failure to present expert testimony to be fatal to this claim (see Tolliver v State of New York, 133 AD3d 990, 991 [3d Dept 2015], lv denied 26 NY3d 919 [2016]; Myers v State of New York, 46 AD3d at 1031; Wood v State of New York, 45 AD3d at 1198). Claimant's general allegation that he did not receive adequate medical care from FPCF medical staff during multiple sick call examinations is unsupported by a review of such care by a medical expert. Although claimant attempted to submit medical records that allegedly show that his kidney condition worsened, the Court cannot discern whether these records prove the claim without expert medical testimony. Claimant's Exhibits 41, 42, 43 and 44 were specifically identified by claimant at trial as showing that his kidney condition worsened. These exhibits are medical records that generally state that claimant suffered from an enlarged kidney and multiple renal cysts, but none unequivocally state that the alleged delay in treatment caused claimant's condition to worsen.

Based on the foregoing, claim number 118778 is dismissed in its entirety. All motions and applications not previously determined are hereby denied as moot. The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

February 16, 2018

Albany, New York

JUDITH A. HARD

Judge of the Court of Claims