New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

DAW v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-011-105, Claim No. 100806


Dismissal of claim for false arrest/false imprisonment.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :
The caption is amended to reflect the only properly named defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Thomas J. McNamara
Claimant's attorney:
William M. Simon, Esq.
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General (Glenn C. King, Esq., of counsel)
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 17, 2000
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


On April 29, 1999, a warrant was issued for Claimant's arrest by the City Court of the City of Hudson, Columbia County. The warrant was issued based upon a felony complaint prepared and filed by an unemployment insurance investigator working for the State Department of Labor. The complaint accused Claimant of grand larceny in that he was alleged to have received unemployment insurance payments he was not entitled to because he was employed. Claimant was arrested on May 6, 1999 by a member of the State Police. He was arraigned later that day in Hudson City Court and remanded to the Columbia County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail. Though the complaint contained an allegation that the crime occurred at the Department of Labor premises in the City of Hudson, it was later realized that the claim for the benefits in question had been filed through the Department of Labor office in Newburgh, Orange County. Claimant was released from custody on July 10, 1999 and the charge against him was withdrawn without prejudice to refiling in the proper jurisdiction.

The claim alleges a cause of action for false arrest/false imprisonment.

To establish a cause of action for false imprisonment, Claimant must show that: (1) the defendant intended to confine him (2) that he was conscious of the confinement, (3) that he did not consent to the confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged (
Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451). The first three elements of the cause of action are not disputed.  However, though a detention is privileged where the confinement was by arrest under a valid process issued by a court having jurisdiction (Davis v City of Syracuse, 66 NY2d 840), Claimant maintains that the warrant does not insulate Defendant from liability under the facts of this case. He contends that the warrant was void ab initio either because the issuing court lacked jurisdiction or because the warrant was obtained using knowingly false information.
The issue of whether the Hudson City Court had jurisdiction to issue the warrant is answered by the Criminal Procedure Law. A local criminal court accusatory instrument, here a felony complaint (see, CPL §100.05), may be filed with a city court of a particular city when the offense charged therein was allegedly committed in such city (CPL§100.55[3]). The complaint filed by Defendant contained such an allegation and though the allegation turned out to be wrong, the court had jurisdiction to issue the warrant as the accusatory instrument laid before it was sufficient on its face (CPL§§120.20,120.30; see,
Marks v Townsend, 97 NY 590; cf. Malte v State of New York, 125 AD2d 958, warrant jurisdictionally defective because obtained from a Town Justice in a town not adjoining the town wherein the acts occurred).
Despite the validly issued warrant, Claimant maintains that he has a cause of action for false arrest. He relies on a line of cases which have permitted recovery for false arrest despite the presence of a valid arrest warrant. In
Pantazis v Bleau Towing Service, Inc., 145 AD2d 816 the court held that a wrongful accusation resulting in an arrest is not privileged and can give rise to liability for false imprisonment even though a valid arrest warrant had been issued. In Ross v Wappingers Falls, 62 AD2d 892 the court held that an arresting officer was not insulated from a claim of false imprisonment where he personally procured the issuance of the warrant based upon his own false and unsubstantiated statements. Similarly, in Collins v Brown, 129AD2d 902 the court indicated that the privilege attendant to an arrest made pursuant to a lawful warrant could be overcome by a showing of malice. Though the proper remedy in instances when an unlawful arrest is made pursuant to a valid warrant is a claim for malicious prosecution (Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451 supra; Marks v Townsend, supra), to the extent these cases represent an exception to the rule, the principle does not apply here.
Thomas Connery, a senior unemployment insurance investigator for the Department of Labor, testified that a notice was sent to Claimant in March 1999 advising him that he owed money to the State because he had received benefits during the period from September 1, 1997 to February 8, 1998 for which he was not eligible. At the time the notice was sent, Claimant was receiving unemployment insurance benefits under a subsequent claim filed in the Hudson office. The earlier claim had been handled out of the Newburgh office but that fact was not picked up when the felony complaint was prepared and filed. Consequently, the complaint contained the erroneous allegation that the offense was committed in the City of Hudson, Columbia County. Unlike the situation in this claim, in each of the cases relied on by Claimant the warrant was procured using knowingly false statements. Here, though the information that the offense was committed in Hudson was false, in that it was not correct, there is no evidence that it was known to be false when made.

Inasmuch as Claimant was arrested pursuant to a lawfully issued warrant and because the circumstances of the claim do not fall within any exception to the privilege created by the warrant, Claimant cannot establish a cause of action for false arrest/false imprisonment. Accordingly, the claim is dismissed.


July 17, 2000
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims