578 N.E.2d 565


No. 87-12081-AD.Court of Claims of Ohio.
Decided August 8, 1988.

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Willie D. Bacote, pro se.
Richard P. Seiter, Director, Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, for defendant.


On June 23, 1988, the deputy clerk denied plaintiff’s claim for $300.12 for loss sustained as a result of the theft of his locker box. On June 30, 1988, plaintiff objected to the deputy clerk’s determination and filed a motion for court review, pursuant to C.C.R. 6(H)(2).

C.C.R. 6(H)(6) states:

“Upon review of the clerk’s determination, the judge shall confirm the clerk’s determination and enter judgment thereon or, if there is substantial error, vacate the clerk’s determination and, pursuant to R.C. 2743.12, draft and journalize his own judgment.”

Upon review, the court finds there is substantial error in the clerk’s determination. Plaintiff, an inmate at Lebanon Correctional Institution, was

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assaulted by another inmate. Pursuant to that incident, Captain Morris drafted a letter of information which states in pertinent part:

“Lieutenant R.R. Reed is submitting a conduct report on inmate Carter this date. I was also informed that just prior to shift change Bacote’s locker box was brought to the officer’s desk. However, during shift change someone took the locker box away from the desk. I, Captain R.L. Morris, went to #1 dormitory to check for Bacote’s locker box. I then discovered his locker box underneath an empty bed with the lock ripped apart and his personal belongings scattered around the area.”

When prison authorities obtain possession of an inmate’s property, a bailment relationship arises between the correctional facility and the inmate. Buhrow v. Dept. of Rehab. Corr. (July 26, 1985), Ct. of Claims No. 85-01562-AD, unreported. “A bailment is defined as a delivery of something * * * by one party to another, to be held according to the purpose or object of the delivery, and to be returned * * * when that purpose is accomplished.” (Footnotes omitted.) 8 Ohio Jurisprudence 3d (1978) 401, Bailments, Section 2.

In this vein, there is a duty to return or otherwise account for the bailed property; however, this duty is not based on negligence. The bailee is liable for not returning the bailed property, and is excused only if it has been lost without fault or want of care. Id. at 439-440, Bailments, Section 45. Failure to redeliver a bailed article gives rise to an inference of negligence, and shifts the burden to the bailee (defendant herein) to present sufficient evidence to counterbalance this inference. Id.

Defendant has failed to present evidence showing it exercised ordinary care for the plaintiff’s locker box while it was in the sole possession of defendant. The preponderance of the evidence weighs in plaintiff’s favor. Therefore, the deputy clerk’s determination is VACATED. Judgment is hereby rendered for plaintiff. Defendant is ORDERED to pay plaintiff the amount of $300.12. Costs assessed against defendant.

So ordered.

FRED J. SHOEMAKER, J., retired, of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, sitting by assignment.

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