New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BROWN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-015-135, Claim No. 130768, Motion No. M-91978

Synopsis

Defendant's motion to dismiss a wrongful confinement claim on the ground it was served beyond the applicable time limitations was granted. A claim for wrongful confinement in the prison setting accrues on the date of release from the punitive confinement, not on the date the administrative hearing determination was reversed.

Case information

UID: 2018-015-135
Claimant(s): JAMES BROWN
Claimant short name: BROWN
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 130768
Motion number(s): M-91978
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: James Brown, Pro se
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Barbara D. Underwood, Attorney General
By: Michael T. Krenrich, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: June 20, 2018
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant moves for dismissal of the instant claim on the ground it was untimely served.

Claimant, a pro se inmate of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, seeks damages for wrongful confinement arising from a 60-day period of keeplock confinement imposed pursuant to a prison disciplinary determination in which he was found guilty of drug use.

Claimant was found guilty of drug use in violation of prison disciplinary rule 113.24 on July 27, 2016. The Hearing Officer imposed a 90-day period of keeplock, 30 days of which were suspended, together with the loss of other privileges. The Hearing Disposition reflects a release date of September 19, 2016. Claimant's appeal of the determination was administratively denied on September 16, 2016 and his January 10, 2017 request for reconsideration was denied by letter of the Director of Special Housing and Inmate Disciplinary Programs dated February 14, 2017. On September 19, 2017 the Hearing Officer's determination of guilt was administratively reversed for reasons that do not appear in the record. Defendant asserts that the claim, filed on December 29, 2017, was untimely served on February 12, 2018 as evidenced by the Attorney General's date-stamp on the envelope in which the claim was mailed.

In support of the dismissal motion, defendant contends that the claim was served beyond the limitations periods set forth in Court of Claims Act 10 (3) and 10 (3-b) and beyond the applicable Statute of Limitations set forth in CPLR 215 (3).

A cause of action for wrongful confinement is an intentional tort subject to the time limitations set forth in Court of Claims Act 10 (3-b). Such a claim, or notice of intention to file a claim, must be filed and served within 90 days of the date the claim accrued.(1) "The failure to comply with this provision constitutes a jurisdictional defect warranting dismissal of the claim"

Davis v State of New York, 89 AD3d 1287, 1287 [3d Dept 2011]). A claim for wrongful confinement accrues when damages are reasonably ascertainable, which is the day the claimant is released from the allegedly wrongful confinement (Johnson v State of New York, 95 AD3d 1455, 1456 [3d Dept 2012]; Davis, at 1287). Although the instant claim does not explicitly set forth the date it accrued, the Hearing Disposition reflects the end-date of the punitive confinement as September 19, 2016. The claim filed December 29, 2017 and served on February 12, 2018 was clearly untimely.

While claimant contends that his claim did not accrue until the disciplinary determination was administratively reversed, this same argument was considered and rejected by the Appellate Division, Third Department, in Campos v State of New York (139 AD3d 1276, 177 [3d Dept 2016]), which held that damages arising from a wrongful confinement claim such as this are "definable" upon release from punitive confinement. This Court is bound by that determination (Mountain View Coach Lines v Storms, 102 AD2d 663 [2d Dept 1984]).

Moreover, the Statute of Limitations applicable to wrongful confinement claims is one year (CPLR 215 [3]). In Trayer v State of New York (90 AD2d 263, 268 [1982]) the Appellate Division, Third Department, noted the constitutional proscription regarding payment of claims against the State "which, as between citizens of the state, would be barred by lapse of time" (NY Const, art III, 19) and held that in addition to the time limitations contained in Court of Claims Act 10, persons seeking to sue the State for intentional torts must also "comply with CPLR 215 (subd 3) or risk having their claim dismissed if a timely Statute of Limitations defense is raised" (see also Court of Claims Act 12 [2]). The instant claim was both filed and served well beyond the applicable one-year Statute of limitations. Inasmuch as defendant has preserved its defenses as to the timeliness of the claim by raising them as the Seventh and Thirteenth affirmative defenses in its Verified Answer dated February 12, 2018 (see Court of Claims Act 11 [c] and CPLR 3018 [b]), the claim must be dismissed.(2)

Based on the foregoing, defendant's motion is granted and the claim is dismissed.

June 20, 2018

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were considered:

1. Notice of Motion dated March 16, 2018;

2. Affirmation of Michael T. Krenrich, Esq., dated March 16, 2018, with Exhibit A;

3. Verified Answer dated February 12, 2018, filed February 13, 2018;

4. Verified Answer dated January 26, 2018, filed January 26, 2018.

5. Unsworn "Affidavit" of James Brown, with Exhibits A and B.


1. Where a notice of intention is served, an intentional tort claim must be filed and served within one year following accrual of the claim (Court of Claims Act 10 [3-b]).

2. Although defense counsel erroneously characterizes the instant motion as a pre-answer dismissal motion, two answers were filed and served, one dated January 26, 2018 and the other dated February 12, 2018.