New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
RUGGIERO v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-041-075, Claim No. 121004, Motion No. M-92582

Synopsis

Claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied in claim alleging assault by correction officers, negligence and falsification and/or spoliation of medical evidence where claimant fails to satisfy initial burden of showing prima facie entitlement to summary judgment, and, even assuming claimant had met burden, triable issues of fact exist.

Case information

UID: 2018-041-075
Claimant(s): ANTHONY RUGGIERO, 99-A-4419
Claimant short name: RUGGIERO
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 121004
Motion number(s): M-92582
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANK P. MILANO
Claimant's attorney: ANTHONY RUGGIERO
Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. BARBARA D. UNDERWOOD
New York State Attorney General
By: Anthony Rotondi, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: November 15, 2018
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, an inmate at Southport Correctional Facility, moves pursuant to CPLR 3212 for summary judgment. Defendant opposes the motion.

The claim alleges that on March 30, 2011, while claimant was incarcerated at Clinton Correctional Facility (Clinton), claimant was taken to the Clinton Office of Mental Health Observation Unit (OMH) and assaulted by several Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) correction officers. The claimant's affidavit in support of his motion alleges that the asserted reason that he was taken to OMH, that he was exhibiting "suicide-watch" behavior, was a pretext used by defendant's correction officers in order to assault claimant in a location "where there are no cameras, no potential witnesses" in retaliation for claimant stating that he wanted to report and document a prior assault by defendant's correction officers.

The claim further alleges that defendant falsified claimant's medical records and was "guilty of Intentional Ministerial Negligence" by neglecting to photograph claimant's right rib area after the alleged assault.

"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]).

Summary judgment is "a drastic remedy" (Lebanon Val. Landscaping, Inc. v Town of Moriah, 258 AD2d 732, 733 [3d Dept 1999]). It "is the procedural equivalent of a trial and should be granted only when it has been established that there is no triable issue of material fact" (Harris v State of New York, 187 Misc 2d 512, 517 [Ct Cl 2001]; see Paulin v Needham, 28 AD3d 531 [2d Dept 2006]).

The Court "must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, giving that party the benefit of every reasonable inference and ascertaining whether there exists any triable issue of fact" (Boston v Dunham, 274 AD2d 708, 709 [3d Dept 2000]).

The Court's role on a motion for summary judgment is issue finding, not issue determination (Sillman v Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 3 NY2d 395, 404 [1957]; Matter of Hannah UU., 300 AD2d 942, 943 [3d Dept 2002]; Schaufler v Mengel, Metzger, Barr & Co., LLP, 296 AD2d 742, 743 [3d Dept 2002]) and where a genuine issue of fact exists, the motion must be denied (Fleet Bank v Tiger Racquet Fitness and Exercise Center, Inc., 255 AD2d 793, 794 [3d Dept 1998]).

The Court finds that claimant has failed to satisfy his initial burden of proof on the motion, which requires claimant to prove, by competent admissible evidence, that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Claimant's affidavit simply parrots, in conclusory fashion, the allegations of the claim and notice of intention to file a claim.

Even assuming that claimant had satisfied his initial burden, the summary judgment motion must be denied, however, because the affirmation of defendant's attorney, and particularly, the eight (8) affidavits of the Clinton registered nurses and correction officers involved with claimant, and with the incident of March 30, 2011, specifically refute all of the substantive allegations of the claim and claimant's affidavit.

Viewing the evidence presented on the claimant's summary judgment motion most favorably to the party opposing the motion, as required in assessing a request for summary judgment, the Court finds that the evidence offered by defendant raises triable issues of fact requiring a trial.

The claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied.

November 15, 2018

Albany, New York

FRANK P. MILANO

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Claimant's Notice of Motion, filed July 18, 2018;

2. Affidavit of Anthony Ruggiero, sworn to July 11, 2018, and attached exhibits;

3. Affirmation in Opposition of Anthony Rotondi, dated September 7, 2018, and eight (8) attached affidavits of defendant's employees;

4. Reply Affidavit of Anthony Ruggiero, sworn to August 31, 2018.