New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
PEREZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2020-015-070, Claim No. 134097, Motion No. M-95695

Synopsis

Defendant's dismissal motion on the ground of governmental immunity was granted where inmate's punitive confinement resulted from an alleged violation of a drug-testing Directive, which does not constitute a due process violation.

Case information

UID: 2020-015-070
Claimant(s): FELIX PEREZ
Claimant short name: PEREZ
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 134097
Motion number(s): M-95695
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: No Appearance
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Letitia James, Attorney General
By: Charles Lim, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: August 26, 2020
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant moves for dismissal on the ground the State of New York is immune from liability.

Claimant, an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), seeks damages for two periods of disciplinary confinement which the claim alleges were the result of "an unreliable urinalysis [testing] system" (defendant's Exhibit A, Claim, p. 1).

Conduct of correctional facility employees taken in furtherance of authorized disciplinary measures is quasi-judicial in nature and entitled to absolute immunity (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212 [1988]; Matter of Kairis v State of New York, 113 AD3d 942 [3d Dept 2014]; Loret v State of New York, 106 AD3d 1159 [3d Dept 2013], lv denied 22 NY3d 852 [2013]; Shannon v State of New York, 111 AD3d 1077 [3d Dept 2013]). Only where prison employees "exceed the scope of their authority or violate the governing statutes and regulations," may the cloak of absolute immunity be lost for those actions (Ramirez v State of New York, 175 AD3d 1635, 1636 [3d Dept 2019], lv denied 35 NY3d 902 [2020], quoting Miller v State of New York, 156 AD3d 1067, 1067 [3d Dept 2017]; see also Arteaga, 72 NY2d at 221; Loret, 106 AD3d at 1159; Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d 765, 765 [3d Dept 2001]). Where an alleged violation implicates no constitutionally required due process safeguard (see generally Wolff v McDonnell, 418 US 539 [1974]; Matter of Texeira v Fischer, 26 NY3d 230, 234 [2015]), the State retains immunity for its quasi-judicial determinations (Ramirez, 175 AD3d 1635; but see Bottom v State of New York, 142 AD3d 1314 [4th Dept 2016], appeal dismissed 28 NY3d 1777 [2017] [State was not immune from liability for a discretionary, albeit erroneous, denial of a witness at a prison disciplinary hearing]). A violation of DOCCS' drug testing directives does not constitute a due process violation (see Raimirez, 175 AD3d at 1638; Miller v State of New York, 156 AD3d at 1068). As a result, the State retains absolute immunity from liability for its discretionary, quasi-judicial disciplinary determination in this case.

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

August 26, 2020

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

  1. Notice of motion dated July 20, 2020;
  2. Affirmation in support dated July 20, 2020, with Exhibits A and B.