IN THE LEGISLATIVE CLAIMS COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
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 November 22, 2019.
The Claimant was incarcerated at Mount Olive Correctional Complex. At the hearing, the Claimant testified that on October 3, 2018, he was involved in an altercation on his pod; he was then transferred to segregation. His personal property was inventoried, packed up and stored at the Respondent’s State Shop while the Claimant was in segregation. Upon his release, he learned that all of his personal property except for a broken television set was missing. The Claimant filed numerous grievances regarding his missing property and also requesting that the security cameras be reviewed, all of which were denied. The Claimant testified that he believed that the Respondent’s employees allowed other inmates from the pod into his cell and that his personal property was stolen by other inmates. The Claimant testified that his missing and damaged property included the broken television, a CD player, numerous CD’s, a set of headphones and a pair of tennis shoes. He testified that the television was working prior to his transfer to segregation and that it had been donated to him by another inmate who had been transferred to another facility. The Claimant further testified that the CD’s, the headphones and the CD player had been purchased on his behalf by family members and friends. He purchased his tennis shoes from the Respondent’s catalog but did not have any receipts for any of the missing or damaged property. The Claimant placed a value of $899.90 on his missing property but failed to submit any supporting documentation.
The Respondent denied the validity of the claim in its pleadings and at the hearing. The Respondent’s witness, Captain McKinney, testified that following the filing of the Claimant’s grievances, he investigated the allegations surrounding the missing and damaged property. His investigation revealed that the Claimant often “rented out” his personal property to other inmates on his pod in exchange for commissary items. Moreover, a search of the other cells on the Claimant’s pod did not uncover any of the Claimant’s personal property. He further testified that the Claimant’s pod is a heavily secured pod with these inmates receiving their meals while in their cells. The Respondent also submitted documentary evidence that indicated that the Claimant had requested that the CD player be destroyed six months before the altercation that occurred on his pod.
Upon consideration of the evidence filed in this claim and the testimony given at the hearing, the Claims Commission finds that the Claimant’s CD player had been destroyed at the Claimant’s request prior to the October 3, 2018 incident and further finds that the Respondent was following its longstanding policies and procedures for property identification and storage in handling and storing the Claimant’s personal property when he was transferred to the segregation unit. The Claims Commission further finds that the Respondent properly and reasonably discharged its duty to the Claimant to provide a means of storage for his personal property when the Claimant was in segregation. The Claimant failed to provide sufficient evidence to the Claims Commission to establish that his personal property had been stolen by other inmates and that the Respondent was liable for the alleged theft of the Claimant’s property, and accordingly, the Claimant failed to satisfy his burden of proof in this claim.
Based on the foregoing, the Legislative Claims Commission is of the opinion to, and does hereby, deny the Claimant’s claim.