New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
TEVAULT v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-041-016, Claim No. 129118, Motion No. M-91461

Synopsis

Claimant's motion for summary judgment in wrongful confinement claim is denied where claimant fails to show that defendant violated a disciplinary hearing regulation and thus failed to satisfy his initial burden to show entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.

Case information

UID: 2018-041-016
Claimant(s): RICHARD TEVAULT
Claimant short name: TEVAULT
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 129118
Motion number(s): M-91461
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANK P. MILANO
Claimant's attorney: RICHARD TEVAULT
Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
New York State Attorney General
By: Douglas R. Kemp, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 15, 2018
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant moves for summary judgment on his claim alleging that defendant wrongfully confined him at Clinton Correctional Facility. Defendant opposes the claimant's motion.

The claim alleges that on November 3, 2015, claimant, then an inmate at Clinton Correctional Facility, was ordered by a correction officer to provide a urine sample because claimant allegedly appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Claimant either refused, or was unable, to provide the ordered urine sample. Claimant was issued a misbehavior report charging him with refusing a direct order and failing to comply with the facility urinalysis testing program.

On November 4, 2015, claimant was again ordered by a correction officer to provide a urine sample. Claimant provided the urine sample.

At his disciplinary hearing on November 6, 2015, claimant pled guilty to the charges of refusing a direct order and failing to comply with the facility urinalysis testing program, with regard to the incident of November 3, 2015, and was sentenced to 15 days of keeplock, among other penalties.

On November 11, 2015, Claimant was issued a misbehavior report charging him with drug use based upon the November 4, 2015 urinalysis which had resulted in a positive finding for drug use.

A disciplinary hearing on the drug use charge was held on November 16 and 17, 2015 and claimant was found guilty of the charge of drug use and was sentenced to 95 days in the Special Housing Unit, among other penalties.

The claim, and claimant's summary judgment motion, assert that claimant was wrongfully confined as a result of defendant violating his constitutional right against double jeopardy because defendant allegedly twice "found him guilty of the same incident."

"A motion for summary judgment should be entertained only after the moving party has established, by competent admissible evidence, that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If the movant meets this initial burden, the opposing party is required to submit evidence which raises a material issue of fact to preclude an award of summary judgment" (Ware v Baxter Health Care Corp., 25 AD3d 863, 864 [3d Dept 2006]; Svoboda v Our Lady of Lourdes Mem. Hosp., Inc., 31 AD3d 877 [3d Dept 2006]).

To establish that he was wrongfully confined, claimant must prove the following elements "(1) the defendant intended to confine him, (2) the [claimant] was conscious of the confinement, (3) the [claimant] did not consent to the confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged" (Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451, 456 [1975], cert denied sub nom. Schanbarger v Kellogg, 423 US 929 [1975]; Krzyzak v Schaefer, 52 AD3d 979 [3d Dept 2008]).

The element most often contested in a prison disciplinary wrongful confinement claim is whether claimant can show that the confinement was not "otherwise privileged."

With respect to whether a confinement is privileged, Holmberg v County of Albany (291 AD2d 610, 612 [3d Dept 2002], lv denied 98 NY2d 604 [2002]), instructs that: "Generally, where a facially valid order issued by a court with proper jurisdiction directs confinement, that confinement is privileged . . . and everyone connected with the matter is protected from liability for false imprisonment."

In the context of confinement pursuant to a prison disciplinary proceeding, such confinement is "privileged to the extent that it was under color of law or regulation, specifically in accordance with [inmate misbehavior] regulations" (Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399, 402 [Ct Cl 1986]).

Claimant was found guilty at two separate hearings of violating different disciplinary rules in separate incidents on different days. Claimant has not provided prima facie evidence that defendant violated any inmate misbehavior regulations in the conduct of the two hearings.

Claimant has failed to satisfy his initial burden of proof to show his entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on his summary judgment motion with respect to his wrongful confinement cause of action.

Claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied.

February 15, 2018

Albany, New York

FRANK P. MILANO

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Claimant's Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment, filed November 27, 2017;

2. Affidavit of Richard Tevault, sworn to November 7, 2017, and attached exhibits;

3. Affirmation of Douglas R. Kemp, dated December 27, 2017.