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New York: Burns from Faulty Steam Cooker Net Prisoner $2,500

New York: Burns from Faulty Steam Cooker Net Prisoner $2,500

by Mark Wilson

Last year, the New York Court of Claims awarded a prisoner $2,500 after he suffered burns from a faulty steam cooker. The court found prison officials had negligently failed to fix the cooker despite being aware it had problems.

On April 8, 2008, prisoner Bobby W. Hudson was employed as a cook at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility. Ninety percent of the prison’s food was prepared in steam cooker kettles. While Hudson was scooping rice out of the middle of three cookers, steam was released from the kettle to his right, inflicting second-degree burns on his right arm.

Hudson had previously notified supervisors that the valves on all of the kettles had been stripped, preventing proper steam management. On March 25, 2008, a work order was processed to repair the steam cooker regulator valves. Prison officials disregarded Hudson’s suggestion to shut down the kettles until they were repaired, and ordered him to continue using them. The work order was not acted on until April 17, 2008 – nine days after Hudson was burned.

He then filed a personal injury claim. After hearing testimony from both Hudson and Food Service Administrator Thomas Frese, the Court of Claims found that prison officials had negligently failed to repair the valves on the steam cooker kettles or remove them from service. The state was held 100 percent liable for Hudson’s injuries.

Finding that Hudson suffered significant discomfort for 15 to 20 days after being burned, the court awarded him $2,500 “for past pain and suffering and the permanent scars from the incident.” Hudson litigated his claim pro se.See: Hudson v. New York, New York Court of Claims (Albany), UID No. 2013-032-048, Claim No. 115236.

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Related legal case

Hudson v. New York