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Moises Ramirez v. Mansfield Correctional Institution

June 27, 2011


The Ohio Judicial Center 65 South Front Street, Third Floor Columbus, OH 43215 614.387.9800 or 1.800.824.8263

Deputy Clerk Daniel R. Borchert


{¶1} On January 8, 2010, plaintiff, Moises Ramirez, an inmate formerly incarcerated at defendant, Mansfield Correctional Institution (ManCI), filed this action alleging "cruel an unusual punishment" and denial of medical care when he suffered injury to his wrists as the result of being handcuffed for three hours. Plaintiff further alleged that his stereo and fan had been stored in defendant's vault and were either lost or stolen as a result of negligence on the part of ManCI staff. Plaintiff requested damages in the amount of $6,500.00. Payment of the filing fee was waived.

{¶2} On March 16, 2010, a judge of the Court of Claims issued an entry wherein plaintiff's claim concerning the denial of proper medical care was dismissed and judgment for defendant was granted on plaintiff's claim of cruel and unusual punishment. Then, on December 16, 2010, a judge of the Court of Claims granted defendant's motion for summary judgment as to "plaintiff's claims regarding his placement in handcuffs on August 11, 2009." The judge then ordered that the case be transferred to the administrative docket. The judge noted that plaintiff listed a value of $500.00 for the loss of his stereo and fan. See, R.C. 2743.10. Pursuant to the December 16, 2010 entry, plaintiff's claim is limited to the alleged lost or stolen stereo and fan.

{¶3} In his complaint, plaintiff states that on October 11, 2009, ManCI employees Shaffer and Faulkner secured plaintiff's property in the vault at 10:50 a.m. Plaintiff asserts that every Tuesday supplies are sent to each unit, they are stored in the vault, and inmates have unsupervised access to the vault to retrieve supplies. Plaintiff suggests that his property was stolen by unidentified inmates as a result of defendant's negligence in failing to supervise inmates who entered the vault to obtain supplies.

{¶4} Defendant denied any liability in this matter. Defendant explained that plaintiff was placed in handcuffs on August 11, 2009, after he refused to lock in his cell. Defendant verified that plaintiff has a title from January 10, 2002, on file for a Panasonic am/fm cassette player.*fn1 According to defendant, plaintiff's property was inventoried on August 5, 2009, before he was sent to an outside facility for medical treatment, and another property inventory was completed on August 11, 2009, when plaintiff returned. Defendant pointed out that plaintiff signed both inventory sheets indicating that the inventory represented a complete list of all of his personal property. Defendant asserted that plaintiff did not produce any evidence to establish that any of his property items were lost or stolen while under the control of ManCI staff.

{¶5} Plaintiff filed a response wherein he essentially reiterated the allegations contained in his complaint and made reference to his initial claims which have been either denied or dismissed pursuant to judicial entries dated March 16 and December 16, 2010.*fn2 With reference to the alleged missing property, plaintiff provided copies of the August 5 and August 11, 2009 inventories. The August 5, 2009 inventory lists one Panasonic radio as "GF" or "grandfathered" in pursuant to defendant's policies. A fan is also listed on the August 5, 2009 pack-up sheet. Neither item is listed on the August 11, 2009 inventory.


{¶6} For plaintiff to prevail on a claim of negligence, he must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that defendant owed him a duty, that it breached that duty, and that the breach proximately caused his injuries. Armstrong v. Best Buy Company, Inc., 99 Ohio St. 3d 79, 2003-Ohio-2573,¶8 citing Menifee v. Ohio Welding Products, Inc. (1984), 15 Ohio St. 3d 75, 77, 15 OBR 179, 472 N.E. 2d 707.

{¶7} "Whether a duty is breached and whether the breach proximately caused an injury are normally questions of fact, to be decided . . . by the court . . ." Pacher v. Invisible Fence of Dayton, 154 Ohio App. 3d 744, 2003-Ohio-5333,¶41, citing Miller v. Paulson (1994), 97 Ohio App. 3d 217, 221, 646 N.E. 2d 521; Mussivand v. David (1989), 45 Ohio St. 3d 314, 318, 544 N.E. 2d 265.

{¶8} Although not strictly responsible for a prisoner's property, defendant had at least the duty of using the same degree of care as it would use with its own property. Henderson v. Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (1979), 76-0356-AD.

{¶9} This court in Mullett v. Department of Correction (1976), 76-0292-AD, held that defendant does not have the liability of an insurer (i.e., is not liable without fault) with respect to inmate property, but that it does have the duty to make "reasonable attempts to protect, or recover" such property.

{¶10} Plaintiff has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he suffered a loss and that this loss was proximately caused by defendant's negligence. Barnum v. Ohio State University (1977), 76-0368-AD.

{ΒΆ11} Plaintiff must produce evidence which affords a reasonable basis for the conclusion that defendant's conduct is more likely than not a substantial factor in bringing about the harm. Parks v. ...

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