New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GARCIA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-011-507, Claim No. NONE, Motion No. M-62442


Synopsis


Defendant's motion to late file is denied.

Case Information

UID:
2001-011-507
Claimant(s):
DAVID GARCIA, 98 A 0952
Claimant short name:
GARCIA
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
NONE
Motion number(s):
M-62442
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
THOMAS J. McNAMARA
Claimant's attorney:
David Garcia, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General(Dennis M. Acton, Esq., Assistant Attorney General)
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 12, 2001
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision


The proposed claim alleges negligence on the part of Defendant due to the failure of an officerto dismiss disciplinary charges against the inmate Claimant. In addition, Claimant alleges that on September 10, 1999 the hearing officer's determination was reversed on administrative appeal but he, Claimant was not released from confinement to the Special Housing Unit until 15 days later.

When considering a motion for permission to late file a claim the court is required to address six factors enumerated in Court of Claims Act §10(6). The first of those factors is whether there is a reasonable excuse for the delay in filing. The excuses offered by Claimant, that he is not a lawyer and has limited access to legal research material are unavailing.

Other factors to be considered are whether Defendant had notice of the essential facts of the claim and an opportunity to investigate. Certainly, Defendant had notice of and an opportunity to investigate Claimant's objection to the determination of the charges against him when the administrative appeal was filed. In addition, though no showing has been made that Defendant had notice and an opportunity to investigate the alleged late release from SHU, the date of the appeal determination and the date of Claimant's release from SHU are memorialized in records maintained by Defendant. Therefore, the delay in filing has not caused substantial prejudice to Defendant regarding this aspect of the claim.

Also to be considered is whether the proposed claim has an appearance of merit. A claim is said to have merit when it is not patently groundless, frivolous or legally defective and there is reason to believe that a valid cause of action exists (Matter of Santana v New York State Thruway Auth., 92 Misc 2d 1). The cause of action based upon the hearing officer's failure to dismiss the charges is wholly without merit. In carrying out their duties relating to security and discipline, the actions of correction employees are quasi-judicial in nature and are cloaked with absolute immunity so long as the actions are not taken beyond their authority or in violation of the governing rules and regulations (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 220). Claimant has not alleged that the hearing officer acted in excess of his authority or violated any governing rule or regulation. Furthermore, if as Claimant maintains the hearing officer erred in failing to properly assess credibility, the choice was a discretionary decision made while he was acting in a quasi-judicial role and is entitled to absolute immunity (see, Minieri v State, 204 AD2d 982, hearing officer refused to view videotape).

The second cause of action is based upon the alleged failure to timely release Claimant from SHU. The claim sounds in false imprisonment and to establish this cause of action Claimant must show that: (1) the defendant intended to confine him (2) that he was conscious of the confinement, (3) he did not consent to the confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged (Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451). Though the initial privilege for detaining Claimant in SHU ended shortly after the hearing officer's determination was set aside, Claimant has not shown that there was no other basis for continuing to house him in SHU (see e.g., 7 NYCRR Part 301 Special Housing Unit admissions). Consequently, the second cause of action is also without an appearance of merit.

No adequate alternate remedy is available.

On balance, consideration of the factors in CCA §10(6) weigh against granting the motion and accordingly, it is denied.

January 12, 2001
Saratoga Springs, New York

HON. THOMAS J. MCNAMARA
Judge of the Court of Claims



Papers Submitted:

1. Notice of Motion verified the 8th day of September, 2000 with exhibits annexed.
2. Affidavit in Opposition of Dennis M. Acton, Esq., sworn to the 18th day of September, 2000.