New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GEER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-011-502, Claim No. 100902, Motion Nos. M-60981, M-61093


Synopsis


Motion by claimant to dismiss defenses and for summary judgment and motion by defendant for summary judgment. The claim is for false imprisonment based upon allegations that claim was confined to his cell after his disciplinary determination was administratively reversed.

Case Information

UID:
2000-011-502
Claimant(s):
Damon Geer
Claimant short name:
GEER
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
100902
Motion number(s):
M-60981, M-61093
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
Thomas J. McNamara
Claimant's attorney:
Damon Geer, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General(Paul F. Cagino, Esq., Assistant Attorney General)
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 9, 2000
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The Claimant has moved to dismiss defenses and for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR

3211(b) and the Defendant has moved for a summary judgment motion pursuant to CPLR 3212. Each party has moved for summary judgment in this claim for false imprisonment[1]. As alleged in the claim, Claimant was given a misbehavior report on April 10, 1999 and a disciplinary hearing on the matter was held on April 21, 1999. The hearing was concluded on April 23, 1999 and Claimant was found guilty of the charge. A penalty of 365 days confinement to the Special Housing Unit was imposed and Claimant was immediately transferred from Adirondack Correctional Facility to Southport Correctional Facility. The disciplinary determination was administratively reversed on June 9, 1999 but Claimant maintains that he remained in punitive confinement until July 8, 1999.

To establish this cause of false imprisonment the claimant must show that: (1) the defendant intended to confine him (2) that he was conscious of the confinement, (3) he did not consent to the confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged (Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451). Here, the only issue disputed by the parties is whether the confinement was privileged.

In determining a previous motion by Claimant for summary judgment, the court found that Defendant had come forward with proof sufficient to raise questions of fact (Geer v State of New York, M-60308, M-60427, M-60428, November 19, 1999, McNamara, J.). On this motion, Claimant has not come forward with any new proof to establish that he is now entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly, his motion is denied.

To succeed on its motion for summary judgment, Defendant must tender evidentiary proof in admissible form sufficient to justify the direction of summary judgment in its favor whereupon the burden shifts to the party opposing the motion to raise a triable issue of fact (Hackstadt v Hackstadt, 194 AD2d 908).

The period of confinement from April 28, 1999 to June 8, 1999 was carried out pursuant to a disciplinary determination for which Defendant, presumptively, had absolute immunity (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212). Based upon the presumption of absolute immunity afforded to Defendant in matters of inmate discipline, Defendant has established its entitlement to summary judgment for the period of confinement from April 28, 1999 to June 8, 1999 and thereby shifted the burden of raising an issue of fact to Claimant.

Claimant argues that he was deprived of constitutional safeguards when the hearing officer found him guilty based upon information from a confidential source but did not place on the record testimony of either the confidential source or the testimony of an employee contacted by the confidential source. Although procedural errors of a constitutional dimension necessitated dismissal of the charges upon which the hearing was held and expungement of the tainted proceedings (Rosario v Selsky, 162 AD2d 939), the hearing officer's error in failing to properly assess credibility was a discretionary decision made while he was acting in a quasi-judicial role and is afforded absolute immunity (see, Minieri v State, 204 AD2d 982, hearing officer refused to view video tape). Claimant, therefore, has failed to rebut the presumption of absolute immunity and consequently, Defendant is entitled to summary judgment on this portion of the claim.

With respect to the period of confinement from June 9, 1999 to July 8, 1999, Defendant has submitted an affidavit by Robert C. Morse, Deputy Superintendent for Security Services at Southport Correctional Facility. In his affidavit, Mr. Morse states that the facility was advised on June 9, 1999 that Claimant's disciplinary determination had been administratively reversed. Claimant was then placed on Detention Admission which Mr. Morse indicates is a holding status while awaiting classification transfer to a general population facility. The transfer to Detention Admission status apparently did not involve a change in the conditions under which Claimant was held but on June 11, 1999 a cell became available on Progressive Inmate Movement System Level II and Claimant was moved to that cell. This change afforded Claimant certain privileges which he did not previously have at Southport though his movement was still greatly restricted. On June 30, 1999, Claimant was moved to Auburn Depot for transfer to Collins Correctional Facility where he arrived on July 8, 1999. Mr. Morse avers that at no time after June 9, 1999 was Claimant held in any type of punitive confinement.

The use of detention admission in circumstances where an inmate is being transferred from Southport Correctional Facility is authorized by the regulations (7 NYCRR §301.3[a][3]) and consequently, the burden shifts to Claimant to show that an issue of fact exist concerning whether his confinement status after June 8, 1999 was wrongful. Though he argues that the conditions of his confinement did not change, Claimant has not shown that an issue exists as to whether his confinement status was wrongful in the sense that it was not authorized and therefore, not privileged. Consequently, summary judgment dismissing this portion of the claim is also appropriate.

Based upon the foregoing, the motion by Claimant is denied and the motion by Defendant for summary judgment is granted and the claim is dismissed.


March 9, 2000
Saratoga Springs, New York

HON. THOMAS J. MCNAMARA
Judge of the Court of Claims


Papers Considered:
  1. Notice of Motion and affidavit of Damon Geer sworn to the 12th day of December, 1999 with exhibits attached.
  2. Affirmation in Opposition of Paul F. Cagino, Esq. dated January 11, 2000
  3. Claimant's reply affidavit sworn to the 17th day of January, 2000.
  4. Notice of Motion and affirmation of Paul F. Cagino, Esq. dated January 19, 2000.
  5. Affidavit in Opposition of Damon Geer sworn to the 1st day of February, 2000.
  6. Affidavit Statement of Claimant sworn to the 6th day of February, 2000 with exhibits attached.

  1. [1]Though Claimant has labeled his motion as one to dismiss defenses, the relief he requests is for judgment in his favor as a matter of law. Accordingly, the motion is treated as one for summary judgment.