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Ex-Prisoner Receives $75,000 for Severed Fingertip

A New York Court of Claims judge awarded a former prisoner $75,000 in damages after finding the defendant, the State of New York, 100% responsible for his severed fingertip.  While incarcerated at the Marcy Correctional Facility near Utica, NY in January 2005, Gregory Fagan was working on the prison's compost crew.  Fagan's injury occurred when another prisoner caused a pump room door adjacent to the compost shed to close forcibly on Fagan's left hand.  The force of the door ripped off the tip of Fagan's left index finger just below his fingernail, exposing bone and tendon. Fagan was taken to a local hospital, but was given only Tylenol while he waited 6 hours to be seen by a doctor.  While he waited, Fagan's hand was placed in a cup of solution to soak and the amputated portion of his finger was placed in a separate cup to soak.

Fagan, however, was transferred to a different hospital because no hand specialist was available.  At the new hospital, the treating physician offered to try to reattach the fingertip, but transporting corrections staff failed to transport it and it was discarded.  As a result, Fagan's finger had to be amputated back to his knuckle.

To further complicate matters, DOC staff did not allow Fagan to take the narcotic drug that had been prescribed to him for his pain, which Fagan described as throbbing and a ten on a scale of one to ten.

Released from prison only 12 days after the accident, Fagan reported continued severe pain, a reduced ability to grip certain items, and an inability to participate in many sporting activities or to draw, both of which he frequently enjoyed before his injury.  Fagan also contended his ability to find work was greatly diminished.

The court, however, found that Fagan had failed to meet his burden of proof to support any award of damages for medical expenses, psychological injuries, or loss of earnings.  The court limited its award solely to past and future pain and suffering.  On June 21, 2012, Judge Glen T. Bruening awarded Fagan a total of $75,000 against the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the lone defendant in the case. See: Fagan v. State of New York, NY Court of Claims, UID No. 2012-048-509, Claim No. 110643 (June 21, 2012).


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Related legal case

Fagan v. State of New York