Inmate bailment trial decision.
|Claimant short name:||JACKSON|
|Footnote (claimant name) :|
|Defendant(s):||THE STATE OF NEW YORK|
|Footnote (defendant name) :|
|Claimant's attorney:||NAHSHON JACKSON
|Defendant's attorney:||HON. LETITIA JAMES
Attorney General for the State of New York
By: Dorothy M. Keogh, Assistant Attorney General
|Third-party defendant's attorney:|
|Signature date:||November 7, 2019|
|See also (multicaptioned case)|
Claimant seeks recovery for the damages to his typewriter during his incarceration. On September 23, 2015 his typewriter was packaged at Sing Sing Correctional Facility for shipping by United Parcel Service to Otisville Correctional Facility and was delivered on September 28, 2015 in a damaged and inoperable condition. Claimant also seeks recovery for the cost of packing his typewriter in bubble wrap, shipping his typewriter and his alleged emotional suffering resulting from this incident.
The State, as a bailee of an inmate's personal property, owes a common law duty to secure the property in its possession (see Pollard v State of New York, 173 AD2d 906 [3d Dept 1991]). A rebuttable presumption of negligence arises where it is established that the property was delivered to defendant with the understanding that it would be returned to claimant and that defendant subsequently failed to return the property or returned it in a damaged condition (see Reed v Cornell Univ., 138 AD3d 816 [2d Dept 2016]). Claimant's failure to make a prima facie showing requires dismissal of the claim. If, however, claimant makes a prima facie showing, then there is a presumption of liability and the burden shifts to defendant to come forward with evidence to overcome the presumption by establishing a non-negligent explanation for the loss or damage to claimant's property
Upon consideration of all the evidence, including claimant's Exhibits 1 through 10, defendant's Exhibits A through C, the testimony of claimant, and the testimony of defendant's witness, Sergeant Levi Mendez, the Court finds that claimant has met his burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the credible evidence, that the State should be held liable for the damage to claimant's typewriter which was placed in defendant's possession in good condition at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. The Court further finds that on September 28, 2015, claimant was provided with a damaged and inoperable typewriter at Otisville Correctional Facility and defendant failed to rebut the presumption of liability for the damage.
Notably, claimant testified that he does not know the cost to repair the typewriter and Claimant's Exhibit 5 is concededly not probative in that regard as claimant testified that Exhibit 5 related to a different repair and different parts of the typewriter. The Court cannot speculate as to the cost to repair the typewriter. Rather, the Court finds that claimant is entitled to an award of damages that the Court calculated by the original cost of the typewriter, $187.00, minus its depreciation, thus finding an award of $150.00 (Claimant's Ex. 6). In addition, claimant shall receive interest from the date of accrual which the Court finds to be September 28, 2015. The Court denies claimant any award for the cost of bubble wrap, the shipping cost and his alleged emotional distress.
It is further ordered that, to the extent that claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act §11-a (2).
All motions not ruled upon are DENIED.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly
November 7, 2019
White Plains, New York
Judge of the Court of Claims