New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
VAZQUEZ v. STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-032-010, Claim No. 120507

Synopsis

Following a trial, the Court finds that claimant proved his bailment claim by a preponderance of the credible evidence and awards claimant $380.00 as fair and reasonable compensation for the value of his lost items.

Case information

UID: 2018-032-010
Claimant(s): JOHN VAZQUEZ (08-A-2196)
Claimant short name: VAZQUEZ
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) : The Court has sua sponte amended the caption to reflect the properly named defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 120507
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: JUDITH A. HARD
Claimant's attorney: John Vazquez, pro se
Defendant's attorney: Hon. Eric T. Schneiderman, NYS Attorney General
By: Ray A. Kyles, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: March 23, 2018
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, an inmate previously housed at Five Points Correctional Facility, brings this claim against defendant seeking $455.00 for bailment arising from the alleged loss of property on or about June 7, 2011. A trial in this matter was held on March 21, 2018.

Claimant alleges that, on June 7, 2011, he was taken from his cellblock at Five Points Correctional Facility to the infirmary. Needing further treatment, claimant was then transported to Cayuga Medical Center where he was hospitalized for two weeks. When claimant returned to Five Points Correctional Facility on June 21, 2011, he was taken to the Special Housing Unit (SHU). On June 24, 2011, correction staff brought claimant's personal belongings to him. At that time, claimant realized that some of his personal belongings were missing.

This claim is one alleging that defendant took possession of claimant's personal

property, creating a bailment, and lost it through its negligent handling. The State has a duty to secure an inmate's property and may be liable in tort for failing to do so (Waul v State of New York, UID No. 2004-009-134 [Ct Cl, Midey, J., Dec. 9, 2004], affd 27 AD3d 1114 [4th Dept. 2006]; Edwards v State of New York, UID No. 2012-039-349 [Ct Cl, Ferreira, J., Dec. 24, 2012]).

A bailment is created once claimant demonstrates that his property has been delivered to defendant, and that defendant has failed to return it to claimant in the same condition (Weinberg v D-M Rest. Corp., 60 AD2d 550 [1st Dept. 1977]; Christian v State of New York, 21 Misc 3d 1128[A], 2008 NY Slip Op 52267[U] [Ct Cl 2008]). If claimant meets this burden, there is a presumption of liability, and the burden then shifts to defendant to come forward with evidence to overcome the presumption by establishing a non-negligent explanation for the loss of claimant's property (Maisel v Gruner & Jahr USA, 89 AD2d 503 [1st Dept. 1982]).

After assessing the weight of the evidence and observing the demeanor of the witness, the Court finds that defendant has proven his claim by a preponderance of the credible evidence and awards claimant $380.00 as fair market value of the lost property (see Phillips v Catania, 155 AD2d 866, 867 [4th Dept. 1989]). This award shall carry appropriate interest from June 7, 2011, to the date of this Decision, and thereafter to the date of entry of judgment pursuant to CPLR 5001 and 5002. Any and all motions on which the Court may have previously reserved, or which were not previously determined, are hereby denied. To the extent that claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act 11-a (2). Any and all other motions on which the Court may have previously reserved or which were not previously determined, are hereby denied.

Let judgment be entered accordingly.

March 23, 2018

Albany, New York

JUDITH A. HARD

Judge of the Court of Claims