New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MORALES v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-029-027, Claim No. 96201


Prisoner - wrongful confinement to cell. Established no liability. Hearing held timely, no violation of rules. 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:
Miguel Morales, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer
Attorney General of the State of New YorkBy: Elyse Angelico, AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 24, 2000
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

This claim, by a
pro se prisoner, alleges that claimant was wrongfully confined to his cell on keeplock status for nine (9) days and that he was deprived a bed for four (4) days. The trial of this claim was held at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing) on October 12, 2000.
Claimant testified at trial as follows: (1) that on March 18, 1997 a correction officer (hereinafter CO) arrived at his cell and told him to pack up his property, he was moving to a new cell; (2) he informed the CO he had a bad back and had a special steel, flat bed that he slept on and he wanted to bring it with him to his new cell if that cell did not have a similar bed; (3) he packed his personal property and brought it to his new cell; (4) the bed in the new cell was a spring bed, not a flat bed; (5) he removed the bed from his new cell; (6) he went back to his old cell to get his bed; (7) the CO would not allow him to remove the bed and gave him a direct order to return to his new cell; he was issued a misbehavior report charging him with refusing a direct order and a movement regulation violation (see Exh. 1); (8) at the disciplinary hearing held on March 24, 1997, he was found guilty of refusing a direct order and not guilty of the movement regulation violation (see Exh. 3); (9) he submitted an administrative appeal of the hearing officer's determination and that upon appeal the determination was reversed on April 11, 1997 (see Exh. 2).

Claimant further testified that for the first four days he was confined to his cell, he did not have a bed. Claimant stated that Sergeant Murray noticed he was sleeping on the floor and ordered a CO to get him a flat bed.

We deal first with claimant's assertion that he was wrongfully confined to his cell. In
Arteaga v State of New York (72 NY2d 212), the Court of Appeals held that the State had absolute immunity from liability in the area of prison discipline when the employees act under the authority of and in full compliance with the statutes and regulations, and their actions constitute discretionary conduct of a quasi-judicial nature. Here, the State followed the rules and regulations by issuing a misbehavior report, confining the claimant to his cell and holding a timely disciplinary hearing. At that hearing, a quasi-judicial determination was made to confine claimant to SHU. This is the activity of prison officials which was given absolute immunity by Arteaga even though the determination was reversed on administrative appeal.
Therefore, based on the foregoing, this cause of action is dismissed.

Claimant also seeks compensation for the four days he had to sleep on the floor of the cell because he did not have a bed. While claimant's uncontroverted testimony established that he did sleep on the floor of his cell for four days, it also established that the choice to sleep there was claimant's own. Claimant testified that he removed the "spring bed" from his new cell (see Exh. 1) and that he was not allowed to bring his flat bed to his new cell. He then decided not to bring the "spring bed" back into his cell and chose to sleep on the floor. Claimant failed to establish by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the State was negligent in any way. A bed was provided to claimant and he chose to sleep on the floor instead. Therefore this cause of action is also dismissed.

Based upon the foregoing, the claim is dismissed. The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

October 24, 2000
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims