New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
YOUNG v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2019-041-048, Claim No. 131588, Motion No. M-93987

Synopsis

Defendant's motion to dismiss wrongful confinement claim for failure to state a cause of action is denied where claim sets forth the elements of wrongful confinement cause of action and record on defendant's motion shows that disciplinary hearing determination which resulted in claimant's confinement was annulled in claimant's Article 78 proceeding.

Case information

UID: 2019-041-048
Claimant(s): JEFFREY YOUNG
Claimant short name: YOUNG
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 131588
Motion number(s): M-93987
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANK P. MILANO
Claimant's attorney: JEFFREY YOUNG
Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. LETITIA JAMES
New York State Attorney General
By: Michael T. Krenrich, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: August 2, 2019
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant moves to dismiss the inmate-claimant's wrongful confinement claim for failure to state a cause of action pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (7) because "the claimant does not allege that his tier hearing determination was overturned via administrative review or CPLR Article 78 proceeding." Claimant opposes the defendant's motion to dismiss the claim.

In determining a CPLR 3211 (a) (7) motion to dismiss a claim for failing to state a cause of action, the court is required to liberally construe the claim, accept the facts alleged in the claim as true, confer on the claimant the benefit of every possible inference and determine whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory (Meyer v Howard A. Zucker, as Commissioner of Health, et al., 160 Ad3D 1243 [3d Dept 2018]; see Torrance Constr., Inc. v Jacques, 127 AD3d 1261, 1263 [3d Dept 2015]; Goshen v Mutual Life Ins. Co. Of New York, 98 NY2d 314, 326 [2002]; 511 West 232nd Owners Corp. v Jennifer Realty Co., 98 NY2d 144, 152 [2002)].

All of the factual allegations contained in affidavits offered in support of the dismissal motion which are inconsistent with the claim and the affidavits offered to sustain a cause of action must be disregarded (Rovello v Orofino Realty Co., 40 NY2d 633, 635 [1976]).

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]).

In seeking dismissal of the claim, defendant also relies upon the quasi-judicial governmental immunity defense set forth in its answer.

That defense provides that where employees of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, in commencing and conducting formal inmate disciplinary proceedings, "act under the authority of and in full compliance with the governing statutes and regulations . . . their actions constitute discretionary conduct of a quasi-judicial nature for which the State has absolute immunity" (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 214 [1988]; Varela v State of New York, 283 AD2d 841 [3d Dept 2001]). This immunity attaches even if the conviction is later reversed administratively or as the result of a successful CPLR Article 78 proceeding (see Arteaga, 72 NY2d at 215).

If, however, prison officials fail to comply with a rule or regulation governing such disciplinary hearings, absolute immunity may be lost and liability for money damages may be imposed if it is proven that the regulatory violation caused actual prejudice or injury to the inmate (see Davidson v State of New York, 66 AD3d 1089, 1089 [3d Dept 2009]; Vasquez v State of New York, 10 AD3d 825 [3d Dept 2004]).

Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim must be denied.

The claim adequately alleges the elements of the cause of action set forth in Broughton and, in particular, alleges that defendant failed to follow its own rules and regulations by denying claimant his right to call witnesses (7 NYCRR 254.5), among other alleged violations. Assuming the truth of claimant's allegations, as the Court must, the confinement was therefore neither "otherwise privileged," pursuant to Broughton, nor is defendant entitled to quasi-judicial absolute immunity as described by Arteaga.

Finally, the claimant's affidavit in opposition to defendant's motion to dismiss demonstrates that the disciplinary determination was administratively appealed by claimant and, on December 17, 2018, the disciplinary determination was annulled (with defendant's consent) by a Clinton County Supreme Court Decision, Order and Judgment issued in claimant's CPLR Article 78 proceeding against defendant.

Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim is denied.

August 2, 2019

Albany, New York

FRANK P. MILANO

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Defendant's Notice of Motion to Dismiss, filed May 21, 2019;

2. Affirmation of Michael T. Krenrich, dated May 21, 2019, and attached exhibits;

3. Affidavit in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss of Jeffrey Young, sworn to May 30, 2019, and attached exhibits.