Eiseman v. State

511 N.E.2d 1128, 518 N.Y.S.2d 608, 70 N.Y.2d 175 (1987)

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Eiseman v. State

New York Court of Appeals
511 N.E.2d 1128, 518 N.Y.S.2d 608, 70 N.Y.2d 175 (1987)

Facts

Rhona Eiseman and Michael Schostick (plaintiff) both lived with Larry Campbell in an off-campus apartment near the State University College at Buffalo (Buffalo). Campbell was an ex-convict who had just been released from a state correctional facility after serving three years for criminal possession of dangerous drugs in the fourth degree. Campbell was treated for various mental disorders during his incarceration, and he was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia, paranoid type, and impulsive/explosive personality. It was believed that Campbell had a high potential for killing and was characterized as antisocial, belligerent, and disruptive. Nevertheless, Campbell only had a few disciplinary infractions, and he was released on his statutorily mandated release date, which was calculated by assessing his good-behavior time. During his incarceration, Campbell was admitted to Buffalo through a government program (SEEK) to help disadvantaged high school graduates. After his acceptance, Buffalo sent Campbell a form, part of which was to be completed by him and part of which was to be completed by a physician. A prison physician, unaware of Campbell’s full history, completed the physician’s portion, answering no to the question of whether there was any evidence of anxiety, other tension states, or emotional instability. The form Campbell submitted did not disclose that Campbell had a history of mental disorders and had attempted suicide several times. Campbell wrote to the director of SEEK about his suicide attempt and mental illnesses. When Campbell was released, there was no evidence that he was in need of psychiatric treatment, and no special conditions were placed on his parole. However, Campbell’s parole officer worked with Buffalo’s SEEK counselor to ensure that Campbell was checked in on. Campbell murdered Thomas Tunney, another student, murdered and raped Eiseman, and inflicted serious injuries upon Schostick. Both Schostick and the estate of Eiseman (plaintiff) sued the state, claiming negligence in releasing Campbell, failing to advise Buffalo of his medical history, admitting him to Buffalo without appropriate inquiry, and failing to adequately supervise him. A trial court held that the state was liable to Eiseman because its agent, the prison physician, had failed to inform Buffalo of the medical history and because Buffalo was negligent in admitting him and failing to restrict his activity. A court of appeals affirmed. The state appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, J.)

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