The trial of this wrongful confinement claim is scheduled for July 17, 2001.
The sum and substance of the allegations contained in this Claim surround the
alleged failure of Elmira Correctional Facility to deliver legal mail to
Claimant which contained notification from the Department of Correctional
Services (hereinafter "DOCS") that his order of administrative segregation had
been reversed, thereby delaying his return to the general prison population.
More specifically, the facts alleged in this Claim are as follows:
•On December 30, 1992, Claimant was placed in administrative segregation
at Green Haven Correctional Facility (hereinafter "Green Haven").
•On January 7, 1993, Claimant's Tier III hearing commenced and the
recommendation was affirmed.
•Claimant appealed to the Commissioner pursuant to 7 NYCRR 254.8.
•Claimant was housed in the Elmira Correctional Facility between March 4,
1993 through March 22, 1993 in order to attend court proceedings.
•On March 22, 1993, Claimant returned to Green Haven and was returned to
•On March 26, 1993, Claimant was returned to general prison
Claimant alleges that a letter from the Commissioner dated March 12, 1993
notifying him of the reversal of his administrative segregation determination
was received by Elmira Correctional Facility on March 18, 1993. (Claim,
Exhibits C & D). Claimant further alleges that Elmira Correctional Facility
refused to deliver this legal mail to him in violation of Department of
Correctional Services regulations.
originally sought damages for 9 days of unnecessary administrative segregation
between March 18, 1993 through March 26, 1993 based upon the delay in receiving
his legal mail. By way of this motion, Claimant now seeks to amend his Claim by
increasing from 9 to 78 days the total number of days he was allegedly
wrongfully confined to include the time between December 30, 1992 and the date
of his release back to the general population on March 26, 1993. Claimant
argues that this amendment is warranted because he has since learned that
damages for wrongful confinement commence on the eighth day if a
superintendent's hearing is not held within 7 days. As such, Claimant now seeks
to amend this Claim to include his entire 78 days of administrative segregation
since his hearing was not held until January 7, 1993, more than 7 days after he
was placed on administrative segregation on December 30, 1992.
Leave to Amend
A pleading in the Court of Claims may be amended in the manner provided by CPLR
3025. (Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims [22 NYCRR] § 206.7 [b]).
Leave to amend a pleading should be freely given although the determination is
directed to the sound discretion of the Court. (Siegel, NY Prac § 237, at
378 [3rd ed]). Moreover, such motions should be denied when the proposed
amendment clearly is legally insufficient or lacks merit. (Sentry Ins. Co. v
Kero-Sun, Inc., 122 AD2d 204).
Claimant's argument is that after further research he has now learned that the
failure to hold a hearing on his administrative segregation within a 7 day time
period is in violation of Chapter V of the Department of Correctional Services
regulations. It appears that Claimant's arguments are based upon 7 NYCRR
251-5.1 which requires that a disciplinary hearing or superintendent's hearing
should be commenced within 7 days. However, Claimant's reliance on 7 NYCRR
251-5.1 is misplaced because this 7 day rule applies only to disciplinary
hearings or superintendent's hearings, but not administrative segregation
hearings. (Matter of Bryant v Mann, 160 AD2d 1086, lv denied 76
NY2d 706). The governing provision for the timing of administrative segregation
hearings is 7 NYCRR 301.4 which expressly states that such a "[h]earing shall be
conducted within 14 days of an inmate's admission to administrative
segregation." Here, Claimant's hearing was held within the 14 day time period.
Consequently, Claimant's proposed amendment is totally devoid of merit and his
motion requesting permission to amend this Claim is denied. (Matter of
Francella v Selsky, 236 AD2d 749, 751).
Witness & Document request for trial
Claimant also requests that the hearing officer who conducted his hearing be
called as a witness at his trial but indicates that the name of this individual
is illegible on the written disposition. Claimant requests Mr. Pico as a
witness because "[t]he individual that conducted the hearing is a needed witness
to testify as to did he follow Correctional Law, and other applicable rules,
regulations, and procedures." (Claimant's Amendment to Claim, List of Witnesses
and Requested Documents from the Respondent, p 2). In response, the State
clarifies that the name of the hearing officer was Jose Pico. In this Court's
view, Claimant has failed to demonstrate that the testimony of the hearing
officer is material and relevant to the allegations that Elmira Correctional
Facility failed to forward his legal mail. Consequently, Claimant's motion is
denied to the extent that it can be construed as permission to subpoena Jose
Pico as a witness for trial.
Additionally, Claimant requests that the State furnish: 1) a copy of the
electronic tape of his hearing and 2) a copy of his own written administrative
appeal. The State advises that the tape of Claimant's administrative hearing is
no longer available since it is more than three years old. (Letter of James E.
Shoemaker, AAG dated April 19, 2001). The State makes no response to Claimant's
request for a copy of his administrative appeal. Nevertheless, Claimant has
failed to demonstrate how these items are material and relevant to his
allegations that his inmate legal mail was improperly handled. As such,
Claimant's motion requesting the production of the electronic tape of his
hearing and a copy of his own written administrative appeal for trial is
Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, it is ORDERED that Claimant's
motion, Motion No. M-63251, is DENIED.