New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PEREZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-028-0005, Claim No. 99839


Claimant alleged he remained confined in SHU after expiration of his disciplinary penalty. Court held that claimant was wrongfully confined when he was not released following expiration of disciplinary penalty. Court calculated number of days confined at eleven and awarded damages of $25.00 per day for a total award of $275.00.

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:
LEO PEREZ, pro se
Defendant's attorney:
BY: Kevan Acton, Esq. Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 14, 2001

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

The claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, has brought this claim for "wrongful excessive confinement".
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 process.
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), without authority or in violation of governing rules or regulation (Arteaga, supra at 221) 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. See,
Gayle v. State of New York 135 Misc 2d 570, 572-573 (calculating number of days confined to a cell on a single misbehavior report is ministerial); Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399, 406 (release from 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 confinement).
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 immunized. See
, 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 received.[1]
The state established that the time cut release date is conditional, subject to certain factors, including the availability of an appropriately classified bed.
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 confinement.

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.

February 14, 2001
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] The time cut notification on its face listed the release date as "on or about 1-7-99". (State Exhibit C, emphasis added).