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New York State does not owe a heightened duty of care to an intoxicated suspect who fell in a police station and fractured his skull, a Court of Claims judge has found. Judge Diane L. Fitzpatrick of Syracuse rejected assertions in Raymond v. State, 89747, that authorities negligently handcuffed Harold F. “Dewey” Raymond behind the back and in a manner that made it possible for him to fall off a chair. Raymond’s attorney, Patrick J. Higgins of LaFave & Associates in Delmar, Albany County, had cited several cases to support his heightened duty theory, but all of those cases were from other jurisdictions. The case arises from an incident during the early morning hours of July 23, 1993, when Raymond was arrested in the Utica area by state police and local authorities. Raymond, who, according to the judge, had consumed the equivalent of 13 to 15 beers in a two-hour period, apparently fell off a chair at the station and suffered what the court described as “severe and life-altering injuries.” Judge Fitzpatrick rejected Raymond’s claims of negligent supervision and negligent training, holding that the state does not owe a heightened duty to a drunk defendant. She rejected the heightened duty argument and said the appropriate question was whether troopers acted reasonably to protect Raymond from injury given the circumstances and the fact that the claimant was “intoxicated, belligerent, aggressive, threatening and uncooperative.” Fitzpatrick acknowledged that had Raymond not been handcuffed in the manner that he was and if he had been seated on the floor rather than on a chair, the injury would not have been as severe. However, she said, “the wisdom of hindsight and the atrocity of injuries cannot dictate the determination that the troopers’ actions were unreasonable.” The state was defended by Assistant Attorney General Ed J. Thompson.

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