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New York Prisoner Awarded $2,500 for Delayed Eyeglasses

On February 9, 2005, a New York court of claims awarded $2,500 to a state prisoner whose replacement eyeglasses were delayed for 10 months.

Marc Herouard, a prisoner at the Fishkill Correctional Center, discovered on February 7, 2001, that his eyeglasses had been broken in storage while he was confined in the special housing unit. The New York Department of Correctional Services agreed to replace his glasses, but he did not receive them until December 4.

Herouard sued the state of New York, pro se, alleging that the prison failed to replace his glasses in a reasonable amount of time. He contended that his sight deteriorated as a result of the delayed replacement and that his request for a job change from his assignment as a law library clerk, which he claimed caused him to have blurry vision and headaches, had been denied. He presented no expert testimony.

The prison health services director testified that the lack of glasses would not have caused blurry vision, but that Herouard's headaches may have been caused by eyestrain. He also testified that prisoners usually receive glasses one month after they are ordered, and that a delay of even 3 months was excessive.

Judge Terry Ruderman concluded that Herouard had failed to prove that his sight deteriorated from his lack of glasses. However, she further ruled that the prison caused him discomfort by failing to provide his glasses in a timely manner. Accordingly, she awarded him $2,500. See: Herouard v. State of New York, White Plains Court of Claims, Case No. 104423.

Source: VerdictSearch New York Reporter

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Related legal case

Herouard v. State of New York

HEROUARD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-010-007, Claim No. 104423


Claimant is awarded $2500.00 in damages from the failure of defendant to reissue prescription eyeglasses in a timely manner while he was incarcerated at Fishkill Correctional Facility.

Case Information


Claimant short name:

Footnote (claimant name) :


Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):

Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):


Terry Jane Ruderman
Claimant's attorney:

Defendant's attorney:

Attorney General for the State of New YorkBy: Dewey Lee, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:

February 9, 2005

White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Claimant seeks damages resulting from the failure of defendant to reissue prescription eyeglasses in a timely manner while he was incarcerated at Fishkill Correctional Facility (Fishkill). On February 7, 2001, after his release from the Special Housing Unit (SHU), claimant received his stored property and discovered that his eyeglasses had been broken. It is undisputed that defendant eventually agreed to replace the eyeglasses at no cost to claimant. Claimant, however, did not receive new glasses until December 4, 2001. Claimant maintains that, in the interim, he had blurry vision and headaches due to his work assignment in the law library. He made multiple requests for a change of program, which were denied. Claimant also contends that the delay in replacing his glasses caused his vision to deteriorate. Claimant did not offer any expert medical opinion to support that contention.
Pursuant to c
laimant's subpoenas, Correction Lieutenant Joseph Pataro; Dr. Richard Klyszejko, Facilities Health Services Director at Fishkill; and Dr. Richard Wurzel, an outside contractor providing ophthalmologic services to inmates, testified at trial. Dr. Klyszejko conceded that it was possible for visual eyestrain to cause headaches, but the lack of glasses would not cause blurred vision. Klyszejko testified that eyeglasses are usually issued one month after an inmate has a doctor's appointment. Klyszejko considered three months to receive prescribed glasses as excessive.
On October 29, 2001,
claimant filed a grievance requesting a change in program assignment. In regard to the grievance, Dr. Supple examined claimant and determined:
"It is my medical opinion that if he does have headaches it is not caused by ?visual strain'. Furthermore, new glasses were ordered 8/01 but he has not received them yet. He was advised to try his program with his new glasses. He refused this advice. I believe his headaches are not from visual problems, but rather are due to the fact he wants to change his program and has been denied. This denial was in his prior grievance to Superintendent Mazzuca for the same issue. The bottom line is there is no medical evidence that sitting in a law library will cause headaches from eye strain."

(Ex. 10). Klyszejko relied on the assessment of the examining physician. Claimant's request for a change of program was denied.
Dr. Richard Wurzel testified that he has been an optometrist for 25 years and is an outside contractor for the New York State Department of Correctional Services. He reviewed
claimant's vision records and noted that from 2000 to 2002, his vision became increasingly farsighted (Ex. 13). Wurzel testified that this was due to the natural process of aging, rather than the absence of glasses. Wurzel testified that the failure to wear glasses might be uncomfortable, but does not cause deterioration. Claimant offered no competent evidence to refute this medical opinion.
Upon consideration of all the evidence, including listening to the witnesses testify and observing their demeanor as they did so, the Court finds that
claimant experienced discomfort due to defendant's failure to issue claimant new glasses in a more timely manner. Claimant, however, did not meet his burden of proving that the lack of glasses caused his eyes to deteriorate (see Wong v Tang, 2 AD3d 840). The Court also finds a lack of evidence to establish the other allegations of the claim. Accordingly, on the evidence presented, claimant has established entitlement to an award of $2,500.00.
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).

February 9, 2005
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims