Claimant's Response to Defendant's Affirmation 2
Filed Papers: Claim, Answer The State moves to dismiss this claim on the
basis that claimant lacks standing to bring this action and the claim fails to
state a cause of action.
Claimant, pro se, alleges that on February 4, 1999 he was an inmate
incarcerated in a county facility and was classified as "State ready". As a
result, he alleges that the State was required to transfer him to a correctional
facility operated by New York State within 14 days (see, Matter of Ayers v
Coughlin, 72 NY2d 346; County of Nassau v Cuomo, 69 NY2d 737).
Claimant further asserts that he was not transferred to a New York State
operated correctional facility until June 1, 1999, after he had filed an Article
78 proceeding in Supreme Court, Orange County. Claimant seeks damages of
$150.00 per day for the period from February 4 to June 1, 1999.
The State seeks dismissal in reliance upon Correction Law § 95 and
Matter of Young v Goord, 178 Misc 2d 913. In Matter of Young,
supra, the Albany County Supreme Court, in an Article 78 proceeding to
compel the Commissioner of the State Department of Correctional Services
(hereinafter DOCS) to accept Mr. Young into the State prison system "forthwith"
"... individual "State-ready" inmates have no standing under CPL 430.20
(1) to compel respondents to transfer them to State DOCS facilities forthwith
because the Legislature in addressing pervasive prison overcrowding has in
Correction Law § 95 explicitly provided for contracts between
the Commissioner and localities to house such inmates for up to six months.
Although being housed in a local correctional facility may arguably have a
harmful effect on "State-ready" inmates by preventing them from having access to
SHOCK, work release, educational and rehabilitation programs, or release on
parole, this court holds and determines that by enacting Correction Law §
95 the Legislature clearly expressed its intent that inmates sentenced to State
prison are not within the "zone of interests" which CPL 430.20 aims to
promote or protect." (Matter of Young v Goord, 178 Misc 2d 913,
Based upon the Court's finding of a clearly demonstrated agreement between DOCS
and Albany County for use of the local correctional facility to house inmates,
including Mr. Young, the petition was dismissed.
On its face, Young
is distinguishable from the case at bar for the
simple reason that the State has not demonstrated a similar contract with Orange
County to house State inmates. Thus, even if this Court agreed with the
analysis in Young
, Correction Law § 95 is not
since, absent a contract, the State
has not demonstrated any statutory authority to house Claimant in a local
In addition, this Court must respectfully decline to follow the opinion of the
Albany County Supreme Court to the effect that the enactment of Chapter 3 of the
Laws of 1995 (the Sentencing Reform Act of 1995) clearly demonstrated
legislative intent to divest inmates of standing under CPL § 430.20 as
established in People ex rel. Perdue v Jablonsky, 174 Misc 2d 604.
A review of the bill jacket supporting the Sentencing Reform Act indicates that
the provisions of Correction Law § 95 (enacted as a part of the Act) were
seen as a budgetary matter. In fact, the various statements in the bill jacket
concerning other sections of the Sentencing Reform Act appear to indicate an
expansion of programs available to inmates in the State system rather than a
constriction of same (see, Budget Report on Bills, Bill Jacket L 1995,
Presumably, to the extent that these programs (which are not available in local
facilities) would entitle an inmate to shorten his/her term of incarceration,
the legislative intent would be to get such inmates into these programs at the
earliest practical time, thereby easing the overcrowding conditions which
permeate the discussion of the entire Sentencing Reform Act.
Thus, I cannot agree that the Sentencing Reform Act of 1995 evidences
legislative intent to affect standing under CPL § 430.20.
Likewise, the legislative histories of Chapter 996 of the Laws of 1970 and
Chapter 788 of the Laws of 1971 (which included the enactment and amendment of
CPL § 430.20) do not evidence any legislative intent to restrict standing
thereunder solely to local officials. On that basis, I conclude that the
unappealed holding in People ex rel. Perdue v Jablonsky
, 174 Misc 2d 604
is the current state of the law in New York
and thus Claimant has standing in the matter before the Court.
Having determined that Correction Law § 95 is not applicable, and that
Claimant has standing pursuant to CPL § 430.20, we next turn to the
question of whether Claimant states a cognizable cause of action for monetary
CPL § 430.20 (1) provides that when a sentence of imprisonment is
pronounced the defendant must forthwith be committed to the custody of the
appropriate public servant. The Court of Appeals has held that County Sheriffs
have standing under CPL § 430.20 to compel the State to accept State-ready
inmates into the State system within a reasonable number of days after their
certification of State readiness (Matter of Ayers v Coughlin, 72 NY2d
346). As the Supreme Court noted in Jablonsky, supra, and
People ex rel. Carillo v Basilone, 183 Misc 2d 707, supra, the
availability of certain programs and hearings which may, at least potentially,
shorten the term of a specific inmate's incarceration are available within the
State system but not in the local systems.
The Court of Claims has recognized a cause of action for wrongful confinement
as a species of false imprisonment [Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc
2d 399 (Corbett, J.)]. Further, this Court has held
"When a prison inmate is subjected to confinement without statutory or
regulatory authorization, the confinement is wrongful and the inmate may sue for
money damages." [Ramirez v State of New York, 171 Misc 2d 677, 681 (King,
It is noted that both decisions of this Court cited above dealt with additional
confinement within the prison system. However, if we have recognized the
concept of wrongful confinement where the difference is one of degree within the
State prisons, it must logically follow that we will also recognize a cause of
action where the difference is between the full availability of parole and
programs in the State system versus the lack of same in the local facilities
which, in the rare and ultimate circumstance, could result in a shorter period
For the purposes of this motion to dismiss, taking claimant's allegations as
true (Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87; Morone v Morone, 50 NY2d
481, 484), claimant has alleged that his confinement to a local facility was
without statutory or regulatory authority and the State has shown nothing upon
which this Court may find such authority. In such circumstances, if claimant is
able to prove at trial that he was somehow precluded from shortening his period
of incarceration or receiving some other benefit to which he was entitled as a
direct proximate result of his extended confinement to the local facility,
claimant could be entitled to monetary damages for wrongful confinement.
Based upon the foregoing, the State's motion to dismiss the claim is denied.
Certainly, claimant faces extremely heavy burdens of proof as to both liability
and damages if he is to fit within the very small category of inmates who have
been actually damaged by the provisions of either CPL § 430.20 or
Correction Law § 95. However, such issues cannot be decided in this motion
and must remain for future proceedings before this Court.