The claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, has brought this claim for "wrongful
The claim arose when claimant, upon the expiration of a period of disciplinary
confinement, was not immediately released into the prison population. Claimant
seeks damages totaling $2,000.00 for each day of his alleged excessive
confinement, i.e. twenty-six days. The claim did not challenge the disciplinary
Inmate Leo Perez, following a Tier III hearing (
7 NYCRR 254)
on October 13, 1998, received a disciplinary penalty of
ninety days in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") for having a contaminated urine
specimen. That penalty was to run from October 14, 1998 through January 11,
1999. At the time of this hearing, Perez was already serving a sixty day
sentence in "keeplock", for an unrelated disciplinary matter. He commenced that
prior sentence on October 2, 1998. In December, 1998 claimant was notified that
a time cut was approved and that he would be "released from confinement on or
about 1-7-99." (State Exhibit C.)
The record reflects that the claimant
was not released until January 22, 1999. The State offered testimony that the
Claimant remained confined in SHU beyond January 7, 1999 because there was not a
bed available for him.
The Court of Appeals has held that disciplinary decisions and the actions of
correction personnel that are prosecutorial or quasi-judicial in nature are
protected by sovereign immunity. See
Arteaga v. State of New York, 72 NY2d 212.
However, those actions which
are ministerial in nature, (Lauer v City of New York, 95 NY2d 95,
99-100, Tango v Tulevech 61 NY2d 34, 40-41)
authority or in violation of governing rules or regulation (Arteaga, supra
are not immunized.
It is well established that the calculation of an inmate's period of
confinement is a ministerial act for which sovereign immunity has been waived.
Gayle v. State of New York 135 Misc 2d 570, 572-573
of days confined to a cell on a single misbehavior report is ministerial);
Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399, 406
disciplinary confinement is a purely ministerial act); and, Minieri v State of
New York 204 AD2d 982. (damages follow for the period of wrongful or excessive
Claimant asserted at trial that he was improperly confined for twenty-six days
consisting of eleven days in keeplock from October 2, 1998 through October 13,
1998, and fifteen days in SHU from January 7, 1999 through January 22, 1999.
The court rejects both of claimant's time calculations.
The record established that prior to the October 13, 1998 Tier III hearing,
the claimant was serving disciplinary time pursuant to a separate disciplinary
finding against claimant. Although the State's evidence showed this discipline
finding was ultimately dismissed, the imposition of that penalty remains
, Minieri v State of New York 204 AD2d 982 supra
(confinement prior to
reversal of a disciplinary determination is not compensable.)
Turning to the issue of the release date, contrary to claimant's assertion, the
Court finds that the State was not under a duty to release claimant from SHU on
January 7, 1999 based upon the time cut he
The state established that the time cut release date is conditional, subject to
certain factors, including the availability of an appropriately classified
January 11, 1999, on the other hand, was not a conditional release date. It
was the last day of an ordered penalty and as such, the State was under a duty,
and pursuant to its own Rules and Regulations obligated, to release the claimant
from SHU. This it did not do. Prison officials knew for nearly three months
that inmate Perez was scheduled for release on a day certain. The proffered
reason for claimant's continued confinement after January 11, 1999, the
continued lack of a bed, is therefore, unavailing. Thus, the State breached
its duty to the claimant and is liable for the period of his excessive wrongful
Based upon the foregoing analysis and the record evidence, the Court finds the
claimant was wrongly confined for a period of eleven days, from January 11, 1999
to January 22, 1999 and awards him twenty-five dollars and no cents ($25.00) per
day as damages, for a total award of $275.00.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.