This claim, by a
claimant, seeks recovery for damages allegedly sustained for
wrongfully confining claimant to his cell on keeplock status. The trial of this
claim was held on August 17, 2000 at Sing Sing Correctional Facility
(hereinafter Sing Sing).
At trial, claimant testified essentially as follows: (1) he was issued a
misbehavior report on March 19, 1996 and that a disciplinary hearing regarding
the charges contained on that report was held on March 25, 1996; (2) he was
found guilty and a penalty was imposed which included 90 days keeplock with 60
days to be served and 30 days suspended; (3) he received a second misbehavior
report on March 20, 1996 and the disciplinary hearing was held on March 27,
1996; (4) at that hearing, claimant was found guilty and a penalty was imposed,
which included 10 days keeplock time.
Claimant stated that as a result of the first disciplinary hearing he was on
keeplock status from March 19, 1996 through May 18, 1996 (60 days), and as a
result of the second disciplinary hearing he was on keeplock status from May 19,
1996 through May 28, 1996 (10 days).
Claimant further testified that he received a third misbehavior report on April
18, 1996 and a disciplinary hearing was held on May 3, 1996 regarding these
, and he was found guilty. The penalty imposed in the third disciplinary
proceeding included 30 days of keeplock time with the notation "INV" (see Exh.
B). This notation appears to indicate that the thirty days in question was not
an imposition of new penalties, but rather a revival of previously suspended
As a result of the third
disciplinary hearing, claimant's time in keeplock was extended from May 28, 1996
to June 27, 1996. It is this period which claimant asserts constituted
Claimant stated that on May 30, 1996 he received notice of the determination of
his administrative appeal challenging the March 25, 1996 disciplinary action.
The modification order from Donald Selsky, Director of Special Housing,
representing the Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services,
modified the sentence imposed on March 25, 1996 and removed all suspended
Claimant asserts that the thirty day "invoked" time that he served was, in fact,
not available to be so "invoked" by virtue of this
Claimant's argument is persuasively buttressed by his Inmate Disciplinary
History, which indicates that the penalty imposed on March 25, 1996 was modified
by Director Selsky (see Exh. A). No such notation appears anywhere else in the
history. Thus, the State's own records indicate that the March 25 penalty was
the only penalty modified. On the evidence presented to the Court, I can only
conclude that claimant's uncontradicted assertions are correct and the "invoked"
30 day sentence was unavailable for reimposition as of May 30, 1996. Further,
giving the benefit of every doubt, defendant clearly had notice of this
modification not later than May 30, 1996. Thus, this Court must find that the
claimant's confinement from May 30, 1996 to June 27, 1996 was wrongful, despite
the possibility that the facility could have imposed the same sentence without
the necessity of invoking a prior penalty.
Arteaga v State of New York
(72 NY2d 212), the Court of Appeals held that
the State has absolute immunity from liability in the area of prison discipline
when its employees act under the authority of and in full compliance with the
statutes and regulations and their actions constitute discretionary conduct of a
In the case at bar, claimant does not assert that the proper rules and
regulations were not followed in issuing misbehavior reports or holding
disciplinary hearings, nor does he assert that he was improperly confined to his
cell prior to the hearing on any of the three misbehavior reports cited above.
Rather, claimant asserts that he should have been released from keeplock on May
30, 1996 when the modification order was received. On the record before the
Court, claimant is correct.
Despite the State's argument,
(72 NY2d 212) does not apply in the present situation.
immunizes those disciplinary decisions and actions of correction
personnel that are prosecutorial or quasi-judicial in nature; it does not
provide immunity for actions that are without authority or in violation of
governing rules and regulations (McGowan v State of New York
, Claim No.
79712, filed July 25, 1991, Benza, J.; Rivera v State of New York
No. 73365, filed June 4, 1990, Benza J.). Here, claimant's wrongful and
excessive confinement resulted from a ministerial error (the failure to keep
track of the appeal disposition and resultant change in release date) rather
than a discretionary decision and defendant's actions are not entitled to
immunity (Tango v Tulevech
, 61 NY2d 34).
Claimant is awarded the sum of $10.00 per day for each day of wrongful,
excessive confinement, for a total of $290.00.
In his claim, claimant also asserted a cause of action for mental anguish and
distress because he was unable to see a chaplain after he received
correspondence from his wife on June 5, 1996. At trial, claimant presented no
evidence regarding this cause of action and it is deemed abandoned and
The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.