New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BROWN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-015-133, Claim No. 103283, Motion Nos. M-62873, M-62935, CM-62992, M-62960, M-63138, M-63020


Inmate's pro se claim dismissed for failure to state a cause of action where it was based upon action of DOCS personnel related to inmate discipline (confinement to SHU) and upon an alleged civil conspiracy of correction officers. Claimant's other pending motions rendered moot by the dismissal.

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):
M-62873, M-62935, CM-62992, M-62960, M-63138, M-63020
Cross-motion number(s):
Claimant's attorney:
Antonio Brown, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Joel L. Marmelstein, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 3, 2001
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This decision will address five motions and a cross-motion filed with regard to claim number 103283. The first of the motions (M-62873) made by the defendant seeks an order dismissing the claim pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) for failure to state a cause of action or, alternatively, an order pursuant to CPLR 3103 (a) striking a request for admission dated December 2, 2000. The second motion (M-62935), which was made by the claimant, seeks an order pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Practice [sic] Rule 30 directing oral depositions of employees of the defendant and the production of certain documents for use at the depositions. The defendant's cross-motion (CM-62992) seeks an order pursuant to CPLR 3103 prohibiting the taking of the requested oral depositions of correction officers Coward and Brandige [sic] and Captain Cabriola. The third motion (M-62960), which was made by claimant, seeks an order deeming the claimant's request for admission dated December 3, 2000 admitted by the defendant on the ground that defendant did not timely answer the request or deny it setting forth the reasons for denial. Defendant opposed this motion and in doing so referred the Court to defendant's motion (M-62873) which addressed the same request for admission. Claimant, in another motion (M-63020) requests an order compelling the defendant to produce documents demanded by claimant in a written demand dated November 15, 2000. Lastly, claimant, after several unsuccessful attempts, made a motion (M-63138) which was returnable on March 21, 2001 seeking poor person relief pursuant to CPLR § 1101. Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim (M-62873) must be granted. This determination renders academic the remaining motions identified above.

The claim seeks money damages in the amount of $90,000.00 for personal injuries, including mental anguish, pain and suffering allegedly sustained by claimant as a result of his confinement to a cell in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) of the Oneida Correctional Facility at Marcy, New York. The confinement occurred as a result of the filing of a misbehavior report against claimant on August 11, 2000 by Correction Officer G. Coward. The report alleged that on August 10, 2000 the claimant engaged in a conversation with Correction Officer Coward which she determined to be employee harassment in violation of the institutional rules of conduct Rule 107.11 (7 NYCRR 270.2 [B][8][ii]). As a result of the filing of the report a Tier III hearing was held on August 15 and August 16, 2000 before Captain Cabriola who found the claimant guilty of the charge of harassment as alleged by Correction Officer Coward.[1] As a result of the hearing, claimant was sentenced to 90 days keeplock and loss of commissary and telephone privileges for a period of 60 days. The disposition and the penalty imposed were affirmed on administrative appeal. Despite the affirmance, claimant alleges in opposition to the defendant's dismissal motion that the correction officers who testified at his hearing engaged in an unlawful conspiracy and offered false testimony against him.

The standard for determining a CPLR Rule 3211 (a) (7) motion is well settled. The claim will be deemed legally sufficient and the motion denied if a claimant is entitled to recover upon any reasonable view of the stated facts (see, 219 Broadway Corp. v Alexander's, Inc., 46 NY2d 506, 509). "Whatever an ultimate trial may disclose as to the truth of the allegations, on such a motion, a court is to take them as true and resolve all inferences which reasonably flow therefrom in favor of the pleader" (Sanders v Winship, 57 NY2d 391, 394). Even viewed from such a perspective, the instant claim must be dismissed since claimant's request for money damages stems from a disciplinary proceeding conducted within the facility upon proper notice to the claimant.

It is well established that "[t]he actions of correctional facility employees insofar as they relate to inmate discipline are quasi-judicial in nature and, unless they exceed the scope of their authority or violate applicable rules and regulations, are accorded absolute immunity" (Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d 887, citing Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 218-220). Claimant has not alleged that defendant's employees exceeded the scope of their authority or violated any applicable rules. His primary argument is that his accusers falsely testified at the hearing. This Court may not second guess the determination made by Captain Cabriola who presided over the hearing and had the opportunity to observe the witnesses as they testified and evaluate their credibility and that of the claimant in arriving at a determination of claimant's guilt. Claimant's allegation that the two female correction officers who testified at his hearing conspired against him does not require a different result. The Courts of this State do not recognize an independent tort of conspiracy (Alexander & Alexander of N.Y. v Fritzen, 68 NY2d 968, 969). "The allegation of a civil conspiracy, without more, does not in and of itself give rise to cause of action" (Cuker Ind. v Crow Constr. Co., 6 AD2d 415, 417).

The instant claim, therefore, does not state a cause of action and must be dismissed. This determination with regard to defendant's motion (M-62873) dismissing claim number 103283 renders moot all other pending motions listed above relating thereto and they are, accordingly, denied.

April 3, 2001
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated December 19, 2000;
  2. Affirmations of Joel L. Marmelstein dated December 19, 2000 with exhibits;
  3. Answer to motion to dismiss claim or for alternate relief of Antonio Brown dated December 25, 2000.

[1]It does not appear that claimant was separately charged with employee harassment concerning an earlier incident involving another female correction officer (Brundige).