IN THE LEGISLATIVE CLAIMS COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
WILLIAM O. ROBINSON
DIVISION OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION
Claimant appeared pro se.
Briana J. Marino, Assistant Attorney General, for the Respondent.
The Claimant filed this claim to recover the value of certain personal property that he alleged was lost 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 December 5, 2019.
At the hearing, the Claimant testified that he was incarcerated at the Western Regional Jail. He was to be released on furlough to attend a family funeral and at that time, he learned that the clothing he was wearing at the time of his intake at the facility had been lost. His clothing items included a hoodie sweatshirt, designer jeans, athletic shoes and a designer belt. To date, his items of clothing still have not been located. The Claimant placed a value of $910.00 on his lost property. The Claimant did not submit any invoices or receipts in support of his valuation of his personal items; however, the parties were able to adequately document a range of value for the missing property.
The Respondent denied the validity of the claim in its pleadings and in the hearing.
This 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 $520.00.
Award of $520.00.