New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RODRIGUEZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-015-544, Claim No. 99038


Claimant seeking to recover damages for loss of phone privileges and recreation imposed as a penalty for inmate misbehavior in failing to follow a direct order dismissed as immune activity of prison officials of a judicial or quasi judicial nature.

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:
Edwin Rodriguez, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Christopher Wiles, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
November 15, 2001
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim for its failure to state a cause of action made at the close of claimant's proof at trial is granted.

The claim seeks to recover $30,000.00 in damages resulting from the loss of 15 days of recreation and 15 days of phone privileges imposed as a penalty after a Tier II disciplinary hearing based upon a misbehavior report charging claimant with disorderly conduct and refusing to obey a direct order for his alleged refusal to discontinue shadow boxing while in the recreation yard at Oneida Correctional Facility at Rome, New York on May 20, 1998. After a hearing on May 22, 1998 the claimant was found guilty of refusing to obey a direct order and not guilty of disorderly conduct and a penalty of loss of recreation and phone privileges for 30 days with 15 days of each suspended was imposed. By copy of a memo dated June 5, 1998 claimant
was advised that the tape recording of his disciplinary hearing which was necessary for purposes of his appeal had been erased and that as a result of that procedural error the records regarding the hearing and its determination were being expunged and the money paid by claimant for a copy of the tape recording returned to him. Claimant commenced this action seeking money damages resulting from the loss of his phone privilege and recreation which he alleged had already occurred[1].
"It is well settled that actions of correctional facility employees with respect to inmate discipline matters are quasi-judicial in nature and unless the employees exceed the scope of their authority or violate the governing statutes and regulations, the State has absolute immunity for those actions (
see, Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 214, 218-220)" (Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d 765). The filing of the inmate misbehavior report by Correction Officer Dailey alleging claimant's failure to cease and desist from shadow boxing in the recreation yard when ordered to do so clearly falls within "the 'formidable tasks' of maintaining order and security in correctional facilities and protecting the safety of inmates and employees" (Arteaga v State of New York, supra at 217). Such conduct constitutes " [a] discretionary decision[ ] in furtherance of general policies and purposes where the exercise of reasoned judgment can produce different acceptable results" (Id at 219). Even were claimant able to demonstrate that the officer abused his discretion in ordering claimant to stop shadow boxing in the first instance the fact remains that the correction officer's conduct was an exercise of his "discretionary authority for which the State has absolute immunity" (Holloway v State of New York, supra at 766).
Additionally, although claimant's record with regard to the subject misbehavior report was expunged due to DOCS inability to produce the tape recording of the administrative hearing no proof was offered tending to show that the hearing officer violated any rules or regulations in conducting the hearing. Absent such proof, imposition of the penalty depriving claimant of recreation and phone privileges was authorized and within the scope of the full immunity accorded quasi- judicial discretionary determinations (
Holloway v State of New York, supra at 766; Arteaga v State of New York, supra at 220; Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d 887, lv denied 93 NY2d 819).
Defendant's motion is granted and the claim is dismissed.

The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in accord with this decision.

November 15, 2001
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]Claimant's Exhibit 1 indicates that the penalty was deferred.