New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WILLIAMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-013-017, Claim No. 95756, Motion No. M-61500


Defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the claim on the basis that Claimant failed to state a cause of action is granted and the claim is dismissed.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General of the State of New York
BY: EARL F. GIALANELLA, ESQ. Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 31, 2000

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


On June 21, 2000, the following papers were read on Defendant's motion for summary judgment:

Notice of Motion; Affirmation in Support; Annexed Exhibits
Claimant's "Answer" in Opposition to Motion
Filed Papers: Claim; Answer

Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se, seeks damages totaling 1.5 million dollars for injuries he says he suffered as a result of Defendant's decision to remove the mattress from his cell, and to deprive Claimant of that mattress for a period of at least eight months. In the present motion, Defendant argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Claimant has not stated a legally cognizable claim. I agree.

The furnishings that are to be provided to inmates residing in Special Housing Unit cells like the cell that Claimant occupied at Southport are described in 7 NYCRR 302.1. Although these furnishings are ordinarily to include one mattress per cell occupant, Defendant's regulations allow it to issue an order depriving an inmate of a specific item, privilege or service when it is determined that a threat to the safety or security of staff, inmates or state property exists (7 NYCRR 305.2). There is no question that Defendant issued a deprivation order before it removed the mattress from Claimant's cell. Nor is there any question that Defendant followed its internal procedures by reviewing its deprivation order on a daily basis from the date of the order's issuance on July 5, 1996 through April 2, 1997.

Claimant's principal contentions are (1) that the evidence used to justify the deprivation order was false and untrustworthy; (2) that the deprivation order was not justified by his prior behavior, including his opening of one mattress and burning of another; and, (3) that having a mattress in his cell did not pose a security or safety risk. Claimant also contends that he was deprived of his mattress for an additional fifteen months after April 2, 1997, a period of time for which Defendant has not provided deprivation order documentation.

Even if I were to accept all of Claimant's allegations as true, I would have to dismiss this claim. A violation of a Department of Correctional Services(DOCS) regulation does not, in and of itself, give rise to a cause of action for damages (see , Lawrence v State of New York, 180 Misc 2d 337 [no cause of action for violation of Public Officers Law Article 6-A, DOCS Directive 2810 regarding unauthorized dissemination of DOCS computer data and provisions of DOCS Employee Manual regarding inmate privacy]; Richardson v State of New York, Ct Cl, April 12, 1999 [Claim No. 96567], McNamara, J. [no cause of action for violation of DOCS regulation which gave non-smoking inmates the right to be moved from a double-bunk cell shared with an inmate who smoked]). If Claimant believed that Defendant was improperly depriving him of his mattress in violation of DOCS regulations, his remedy was to pursue relief in Supreme Court under CPLR Article 78 (see, Matter of Trammell v Coombe, 170 Misc 2d 471; CPLR 7801, et seq.).

Since this claim does not state a cause of action, Defendant's motion is granted. Claim No. 95756 is dismissed.

July 31, 2000
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims