IN THE LEGISLATIVE CLAIMS COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
WEST VIRGINIA DIVISION OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION,
REGIONAL JAIL AUTHORITY AND EASTERN REGIONAL JAIL
Claimant appeared pro se.
Briana J. Marino, Assistant Attorney General for the Respondent.
The Claimant filed this claim to recover for the value of certain personal property that he alleges was stolen, lost or destroyed while under the care of the Respondent.
The Claimant and the Respondent, through its counsel, appeared for a hearing before the Legislative Claims Commission on May 3, 2019.
The Claimant testified that he was originally incarcerated at Western Regional Jail. In December, 2017, the Claimant’s wife delivered the Claimant’s prescription eyeglasses to Captain Aldrich at the Western Regional Jail. The eyeglasses were ultimately given to the Claimant. Approximately a month later, the Claimant was transferred to the Eastern Regional Jail and had his eyeglasses in his possession when he went through the intake procedure at Eastern. Shortly after his arrival at Eastern, the Claimant was placed in segregation at which time his property was packed up and stored. The Claimant testified that when he asked for his glasses to be brought to segregation, his eyeglasses could not be located. The Claimant placed a value of $1,500.00 on the lost eyeglasses.
The Claimant’s wife, Brittany Shy, appeared at the hearing under subpoena, and testified that she hand-delivered the Claimant’s eyeglasses to Captain Aldrich at the Western Regional Jail. Mrs. Shy also produced a copy of the receipt for the Claimant’s glasses, which indicated that the purchase price of the eyeglasses was $269.90.
The Respondent admitted the validity of the claim in its pleadings and in the hearing as to liability only. The Respondent denied the validity of the claim in its pleadings and also at the hearing as to the Claimant’s damages and contested the Claimant’s assertion that the eyeglasses were valued at $1,500.00. The Respondent’s witness, Administrator Sheely, testified that the Claimant filed a grievance regarding his lost glasses on the facility kiosk, He further testified that the Respondent would have provided replacement glasses to the Claimant had he gone to his scheduled eye appointments, but the Claimant refused three different eye appointments. Administrator Sheely also confirmed that personal property such as prescription eyeglasses are given to inmates while in a segregation unit.
The Legislative Claims Commission is aware that the Respondent does not have a fiscal method available to it for paying claims of this nature. As such, the claim has been submitted to this Commission for determination.
In West Virginia, when a bailment situation is created, a duty or “obligation to exercise reasonable and ordinary care for the safety of the property so delivered” is imposed upon the bailee. Barnette v. Casey, 124 W. Va. 143, 19 S.E.2d 621 (1942). This Commission has previously held that a bailment situation exists when the Respondent records the personal property of an inmate and takes it for storage purposes, and then has no satisfactory explanation for not returning it. Page v. Division of Corrections, 23 Ct. Cl.238 (2000); Heard v. Division of Corrections, 21 Ct. Cl. 146 (1997).
Upon consideration of the evidence filed in this claim and the testimony given at the hearing, the Commission finds that a bailment existed between the Claimant and the Respondent. The Respondent had a duty to exercise reasonable and ordinary care with respect to the Claimant’s property but failed to do so on the date of the incident.
Accordingly, this Commission is of the opinion to make an award to the Claimant herein in the amount of $269.90.
Award of $269.90.