New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GRAY v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-018-047, Claim No. 98048


Synopsis


Claim dismissed after trial. Claimant presented no proof that department rules had been violated.

Case Information

UID:
2000-018-047
Claimant(s):
SCOTT GRAY
Claimant short name:
GRAY
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
98048
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Claimant's attorney:
SCOTT GRAYPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: PATRICIA BORDONARO, ESQUIRE Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 5, 2000
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

According to the claimant, on February 9, 1998, while incarcerated at Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, he was approached by Correction Officer Joseph Stickney after he was told to report to the visiting room in his housing unit. Claimant testified that at that time, Officer Stickney told claimant that he was to have a urinalysis test, and he was to drink only eight ounces of water once an hour for the next three hours.

Thereafter, Officer Stickney asked claimant if he was ready to perform the test, and the claimant indicated he would try. Officer Stickney and claimant went into the visitor's bathroom where claimant was instructed to wash his hands, drop his pants to his ankles and pull his shirt up to his chin and hold it there. Claimant objected, indicating that such a procedure was not in the rules or in Directive 4937, the procedure for urinalysis testing. The officer allegedly indicated that he was going to have the claimant perform the urinalysis as indicated.

Received into evidence, on behalf of the claimant, were two documents. Exhibit 1 is the State Directive regarding urinalysis tests, Directive number 4937. The cover page indicates that the date of certain revisions was April 14, 1999, and that those revisions changed the directive of November 2, 1998. Both the November directive and the revisions are dated after the alleged incident herein. Based upon the dates contained in that document, the Court can give the directive little weight in assessing the relevance of it in relation to claimant's allegations. Exhibit 2 was a memorandum from Captain R. Kurz, apparently from the Ogdensburg Facility, with the subject being "Procedure for Collecting The Urine Specimen." Under that procedure in paragraph 8, the document reads:

The officer will order the inmate to wash and dry their hands. He will then instruct the inmate to lower his trousers and raise his shirt.[1]


At trial claimant described his embarrassment at being exposed to the extent that he was, and indicated he could not produce any urine due to Officer Stickney's alleged inspection of the claimant's body; specifically his private areas. Also received into evidence on behalf of the claimant was a tape recording of the hearing conducted as a result of the misbehavior report filed by Officer Stickney for claimant's failure to submit to urinalysis.

Admitted into evidence on behalf of the State's case was Exhibit A, a document admittedly signed by claimant, Officer Stickney, and a witness, in which claimant acknowledged that he was ordered to submit a sample of urine, that he had been advised of the consequences for refusing to submit this sample for drug testing, and that he wilfully refused to submit that sample. The State's Exhibit B is the inmate misbehavior report which indicates the claimant's refusal to submit a urine sample was in violation of a direct order. Claimant candidly admitted that he would not submit such a sample, and he fully understood the consequences of his refusal at the time and such facts were not an issue. Claimant's concern was the manner in which the procedure was conducted; believing such procedure was degrading and unprofessional.

The State called Officer Stickney whose testimony conformed quite closely with that of claimant. Officer Stickney testified that he was familiar only with Exhibit 2, the memorandum from the Correctional Facility regarding the procedure for urine testing, and on the day in question he believed he was in compliance with that memorandum. Officer Stickney testified that when a urine sample is sought, an inmate is requested to raise his shirt and drop his trousers to eliminate any possibility of tampering with the sample or contamination from clothing.

Claimant seeks redress in the claim for sexual harassment, verbal harassment, violations of his privacy rights and Eighth
Amendment rights. The claimant requests the following relief:
(1) That the Court investigate Officer Stickney and Captain Roberts;

(2) That the Court stop Officer Stickney from conducting drug tests; and

(3) $200 per day for each day claimant wrongfully spent in the Special Housing Unit.

The State made a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and on the basis of the State's immunity from suit pursuant to
Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, at the close of proof. This Court is of limited jurisdiction. (Court of Claims Act, Article 2) The Court is simply without the authority to grant claimant the relief he seeks in items (1) and (2) of the claim.
As for claimant's request for $200 per day for wrongful confinement in the Special Housing Unit, claimant did not present any proof that he was wrongfully confined to the Special Housing Unit. In fact, at trial, claimant readily admitted he refused to provide the urine sample and that he knew he would face disciplinary action. The discretionary acts of correction officers in conducting the disciplinary process is afforded absolute immunity unless it can be shown department rules have been violated. (
Arteaga v State of New York, supra) Claimant has presented no proof that department rules have been violated, and as a result his claim must be DISMISSED. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

October 5, 2000
Syracuse, New York

HON. DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]See Exhibit 2