New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GERARD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, #2002-011-519, Claim No. 104588, Motion Nos. M-64592, CM-64648


Synopsis


Claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied. Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment is granted.

Case Information

UID:
2002-011-519
Claimant(s):
ANDRE GERARD, 93 A 7259
Claimant short name:
GERARD
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
104588
Motion number(s):
M-64592
Cross-motion number(s):
CM-64648
Judge:
THOMAS J. McNAMARA
Claimant's attorney:
Andre Gerard, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Paul F. Cagino, Esq.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 7, 2002
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision


Claimant has moved, and defendant has cross-moved, for summary judgment. The proponent of a motion for summary judgment must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of any material issues of fact (Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Center, 64 NY2d 851, 853). Whereupon the burden shifts to the party opposing the motion to raise a triable issue of fact (Hackstadt v Hackstadt, 194 AD2d 908).

The claim is based upon an allegation that defendant took "negligent disciplinary action" against claimant when he was charged with, and found guilty of, violating Rule 104.12 which prohibits inmates from organizing, participating in, or urging other inmates to participate in, work stoppages, sit-ins or other action which may be detrimental to the order of the facility. The determination of guilt was reversed on administrative appeal.

In carrying out their duties relating to security and discipline, the actions of correction employees are quasi-judicial in nature and are cloaked with absolute immunity (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 220). Consequently, in any claim based upon disciplinary action against an inmate, the first issue to be addressed is whether the complained of action is cloaked with absolute immunity.

Claimant contends that the disciplinary action taken against him was in retaliation for a grievance he filed about certain actions of an Islamic cleric at Bare Hill Correctional Facility. He also maintains that the rule he was found guilty of violating was unconstitutionally vague and as a result, the determination of guilt, and consequent punishment, were arbitrary and capricious. While the rules governing matters of inmate discipline implore that such actions never be arbitrary or capricious, or administered for the purpose of retaliation or revenge (7 NYCRR §250.2[f]), allegations of arbitrary conduct or retaliation do not strip away the absolute immunity afforded to the State in such matters. Because the actions of correction personnel in preparing and filing misbehavior reports and making dispositions following hearings have been held to involve the exercise of reasoned judgment capable of producing different acceptable results (Arteaga v State of New York, supra at 219), those actions have been afforded absolute immunity where considerations of reasonableness or bad faith are irrelevant (Arteaga v State of New York, supra at 216). Thus, the motive for issuing a misbehavior report as well as the rationale for finding an inmate guilty of a rule infraction are exempted from suits against the State. Inasmuch as defendant is entitled to absolute immunity for the acts complained of in the claim, the motion for summary judgment by claimant is denied and the cross-motion by defendant is granted. The claim is dismissed.


March 7, 2002
Saratoga Springs, New York

HON. THOMAS J. MCNAMARA
Judge of the Court of Claims



Papers Submitted:

  1. Notice of Motion dated January 14, 2002
  2. Affidavit in Support of Andre Gerard sworn to the 14th day of January, 2002 with exhibits annexed
  3. Notice of Cross-Motion dated January 29, 2002
  4. Affirmation in Support of Paul F. Cagino, Esq. dated January 29, 2002
  5. Notice of Claimant's Answer to Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment dated February 5, 2002
  6. Affidavit in Support of Andre Gerard sworn to the 5th day of February, 2002