New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HARVEY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-016-037, Claim No. 102131, Motion No. M-61540


Inmate complained of being transferred from one correctional facility to another, effectively terminating his participation in an apprenticeship training program. Claim was dismissed on defendant's motion.

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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant's attorney:
Steven Harvey
Defendant's attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Earl F. Gialanella, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 26, 2000
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


In his underlying claim, pro se claimant Steven Harvey alleges that defendant breached an "apprenticeship agreement" when it transferred him from a correctional facility with an apprenticeship program to a facility without such a program. This is defendant's motion to dismiss Harvey's claim on the grounds that it fails to state a cause of action upon which relief may be granted. Harvey alleges that on February 27, 1997, he began participation in a micro-computer repair apprenticeship program at Woodbourne Correctional Facility which was to last for four years. In connection therewith, he executed a Department of Labor "apprenticeship agreement," listing him as the apprentice and "NYS DOCS Woodbourne Correctional Facility" as the program sponsor. The document was also signed by representatives of the sponsor and the Department of Labor. See Exhibit B to Claimant's Answer to Motion to Dismiss.

Approximately 22 months later, on December 14, 1998, Harvey was transferred to Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, which effectively terminated his apprenticeship, since Mid-Orange has no such program. Harvey asserts that his transfer constitutes a breach of the apprenticeship agreement.
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While the apprenticeship agreement here provides that the length of the training program is 48 months, its very language contemplates that training can be terminated prior to completion of the 48 months for a variety of reasons, such as, for example, a "layoff due to lack of work," termination of the apprenticeship program and "for cause" reasons such as inability to perform, misconduct and "other." No provision of the Labor Law or its accompanying regulations provide otherwise (§810 et seq; 12 NYCRR §601.1 et seq).

Moreover, the decision to transfer inmates between correctional facilities "lies within the discretion of the Commissioner of Corrections . . ." Gregg v Scully, 108 AD2d 748, 749, 485 NYS2d 94, 96 (2d Dept 1985), lv denied, 65 NY2d 601, 491 NYS2d 1026 (1985). See also Taylor v Kennedy, 159 AD2d 827, 553 NYS2d 62, 63 (3d Dept 1990) ("Nor does [an inmate] have a right to serve his sentence in any particular facility . . ."). See, e.g., Gregg, supra. Nor does an inmate have a guarantee to a particular job in a correctional facility. See, e.g., Johnson v Smith, 112 AD2d 50, 490 NYS2d 414 (4th Dept 1985), affd, 66 NY2d 697, 496 NYS2d 425 (1985).

While a "clearly stated impermissible reason" may be grounds for voiding a transfer, see Taylor, supra, such would be effected via an Article 78 proceeding in Supreme Court. Furthermore, if DOCS varied from a policy of considering preserving continuity within an apprenticeship program in determining when and where a transfer would be made, the means to challenge that determination is with an Article 78 proceeding. In any event, there was no such showing although: (i) the Department does maintain a list of apprenticeship programs in 12 subject areas which require from two to five years of participation, suggesting an awareness that some inmates will be unable to complete the program at one institution; and (ii) claimant submits the affidavit, but not the referenced memo, of inmate Conrad Clemente, which provides that "by way of Statewide Memo I knew that [a] participant...would not be transfered until completion of Apprenticeships, or that they would have to be transfered to a facility where they would be able to complete [their] training." (Claimant's Answer to Motion, exh C; Claim, exh B.) Claimant is disappointed that after completing nearly one-half of his training, he is unable to continue with the program. However, in view of the foregoing, I am constrained to find that claimant has no cause of action for money damages in this Court.

Accordingly, having reviewed the parties' submissions[1], IT IS ORDERED that motion no. M-61540 is granted and the claim of Steven Harvey is dismissed.

June 26, 2000
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]Along with the claim, the following papers were reviewed: defendant's notice of motion with supporting affirmation and Exhibit A; and Claimant's Answer to Motion to Dismiss with Exhibits A-C.