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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 30
Opinion Issued February 5, 2014
     Claimant appeared pro se.
     Cynthia R. M. Gardner, Assistant Attorney General, for Respondent.
      Claimant, Charles Roberts, an inmate at Huttonsville Correctional Center at the time of this incident, brought this claim to recover the value of certain personal property items that he alleges were converted by Respondent while he was being held in segregation.
      The Claimant testified at the hearing of this matter that after getting into a fight with another inmate he was sent to segregation. While in segregation, his personal property was inventoried by staff and noted on the inventory sheet. Once Claimant was released, Claimant maintains that his property was never returned to him. In fact, Respondent admitted that the property was never returned to Claimant and did not offer testimony to rebut Claimant’s argument.
      Claimant argues that a bailment was created between himself and Respondent, and that Respondent is liable for failing to return his personal property items upon his arrival at Potomac Regional Jail. Respondent did not offer evidence to refute this testimony.
      It is the law in West Virginia that the creation of a bailment situation “imposes upon the bailee the obligation to exercise reasonable and ordinary care for the safety of the property so delivered.” Barnette v. Casey, 124 W. Va. 143, This Court has held that a bailment exists when Respondent records the personal property of an inmate and takes it for storage purposes, and then has no satisfactory explanation for not returning it. Page v. Division of Corrections, 23 Ct. Cl. 238 (2000); Heard v. Division of Corrections, 21 Ct. Cl. 151 (1997).
      In the present claim, the evidence adduced at the hearing established that Claimant and Resondent had created a bailor/bailee relationship and that Respondent had a duty to return Claimant’s items upon arrival at Potomac Regional Jail. Therefore, the Court finds that Respondent is liable for Claimant’s missing personal property items.
      Accordingly, the Court is of the opinion to and does make an award to Claimant in the amount of $450.00.
      Award of $450.00.

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