New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MADISON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-013-004, Claim No. 99755, Motion Nos. M-64062, M-64188, M-64326, CM-64446


That portion of the claim alleging excessive wrongful confinement to SHU is dismissed on the ground that such confinement was authorized by 7 NYCRR 301.3 and 301.6.

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):
M-64062, M-64188, M-64326
Cross-motion number(s):
Claimant's attorney:
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General of the State of New York
BY: GREGORY P. MILLER, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 4, 2002

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


On December 19, 2001, the following papers were read on Claimant's motions to file an amended claim (Motion No. M-64062), to compel discovery (Motion No. M-64188), and for partial summary judgment in his favor (Motion No. M-64326), and on Defendant's Cross-Motion for summary judgment in its favor (Cross-Motion No. CM-64446):

Motion No. M-64062

1. Notice of Motion, Supporting Affidavit, Proposed "Amended/Supplemental Claim" with Exhibits Annexed

2. Affidavit in Opposition

Motion No. M-64188

3. Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit

4. Affidavit in Opposition, with Exhibits Annexed

Motion No. M-64326

5. Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit

Cross-Motion No. CM- 64446

6. Notice of Cross-Motion and Supporting Affidavit, with Exhibits Annexed

7. Affidavit in Opposition to Cross-Motion

8. Filed papers: Claim (captioned "Supplemental Claim"); Answer

The claim in this action[1] alleges that in December 1998, Claimant was illegally confined to the Special Housing Unit (SHU) at Collins Correctional Facility (Collins) for eight days; that he was again wrongfully confined to Collins SHU beginning in April 1999 when he was transferred back to that facility from Attica Correctional Facility (Attica); and that personal property, specifically a religious chain and medal, was lost during his transfer. The gravamen of his claim, which is best articulated in Claimant's Affidavit in Opposition to the cross-motion, is that he should never have been admitted to Collins SHU because he was not "an inmate at a medium or minimum security facility" but, rather, an inmate of a maximum secured facility with long-term keeplock status. He cites Department of Correctional Services regulation 301.6 (7 NYCRR 301.6) to support his position that only an inmate in a medium or minimum security facility may be admitted to SHU. In Motion No. M-64062, Claimant again moves for permission to file an amended or supplemental claim (see, footnote 1), this time to include allegations that, apparently while he was housed at Attica, he was wrongfully forced to double-bunk with another inmate who suffered from a "pilonidal cyst" which caused unsanitary conditions in the cell (Amended/Supplemental Claim, ¶ 3). He also seeks to reduce the amount of damages claimed for the lost chain and medallion from $350.00 to $280.00, in order to reflect a payment of $70.00 that he accepted from the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) "under protest" in compensation for his loss (id, ad damnum clause).

Although leave to amend is to be freely granted (CPLR 3025), a claimant cannot use the mechanism of amendment to, in effect, commence an untimely claim. Neither the original claim nor the supplemental claim filed in this action contained any reference to the inmate who shared Claimant's cell at Attica or to any unsanitary condition of the cell. A claim that accrued in April 1999 (when Claimant was returned to Collins) or earlier would be untimely pursuant to Court of Claims Act §10(3), which is jurisdictional in nature and must be strictly construed (Lurie v State of New York, 73 AD2d 1006, affd 52 NY2d 849). Defendant makes no objection to the request to reduce the amount of damages claimed for the loss of the chain and medallion, but reserves the right to assert the defense of accord and satisfaction. Accordingly, Claimant's motion to amend is denied with respect to the new cause of action which he seeks to add, and granted with respect to his request to reduce the amount of damages sought. The claim is amended accordingly.

In Motion No. M-64188, Claimant seeks an order compelling Defendant to respond to certain discovery demands. The documents that he seeks to obtain are (1) SHU sanctions of all inmates in Attica Correctional Facility long-term keeplock on April 6, 1999, or the total number of inmates with SHU sanctions in keeplock on that date; (2) copies of the transfer orders of April 6, 1999 at Attica, and of December 16, 1998 at Collins; and (3) redacted dispositions for all inmates housed at Attica long-term keeplock, B Block, on March 31, 1999 and April 6, 1999.[2]

Counsel for Defendant has provided, in his opposing affidavit, a copy of the March 31, 1999 transfer order relating to Claimant's transfer from Attica to Collins and states that the State is unable to provide documentation relating to 1998 transfer orders. With respect to the other two demands, Defendant objects on grounds that the information sought is irrelevant to the claim and that the information would be burdensome to produce. In his supporting affidavit, Claimant asserts that this information is relevant because it will establish "that there were SHU inmates housed in keeplock that were classified SHU" and that these inmates "should have been placed in SHU before the claimant" was returned to SHU. For reasons discussed below, this information is not relevant to the instant claim and would not assist Claimant in proving his causes of action. This motion will be denied.

In Motion No. M-64326, Claimant seeks partial summary judgment in his favor, on the issue of wrongful confinement, and Defendant's Cross-Motion No. CM-64446 seeks summary judgment in its favor on all issues. These motions require discussion of the underlying merits of the claim.

Section 301.6 of the DOCS rules and regulations (7 NYCRR 301.6) provides as follows:

Keeplock Admission

(a)An inmate in a medium or minimum security correctional facility... may be housed in a special housing unit for reasons such as, but not limited to, the following:

(1)awaiting disposition of a disciplinary (Tier II) or superintendent's (Tier III) hearing;

(2)for confinement pursuant to a disposition of a disciplinary (Tier II) or superintendent's (Tier III) hearing; or

(3)awaiting transfer to another facility.

Section 301.3 of DOCS regulations (7 NYCRR 301.3) provides that an inmate may be admitted to SHU on a "detention admission" under (among other conditions) the following circumstance:

in cases where an inmate is received from another correctional facility and his record in the other facility raises a reasonable question as to whether he presently is ready to adhere to the department's rules and policies governing inmate behavior; [301.3(a)(2)]

Defendant has provided the Court with the affidavit of Richard A. Becker, Deputy Superintendent of Collins Correctional Facility (Notice of Cross-Motion, Exhibit C). In his affidavit opposing the cross-motion, Claimant does not refute any of the factual information contained in the Deputy Superintendent's affidavit, although he continues to disagree with the interpretation of the regulations contained therein.

According to Deputy Superintendent Becker, prior to December 1998 Claimant was housed at Collins, a medium security facility, in SHU for violating DOCS' drug policy; his release date was December 16, 1998. He was not released from SHU until December 24 , however, when he was transferred to general confinement at Attica, a maximum security facility. During this eight-day period, his confinement to SHU was authorized by 7 NYCRR 301.6(a)(3), as he was at that time awaiting transfer to another facility.

While at Attica, Claimant was again found guilty of unauthorized drug use and, on March 22, 1999, he was sentenced to 90 days in keeplock. While still serving that sentence, he was transferred back to Collins on April 6, 1999, where he was immediately placed in SHU. At that point, his assignment to SHU was authorized by Section 301.3(a)(2).

To put the matter in plainer terms, when Claimant was housed at a medium security facility (Collins) and convicted of unauthorized drug use, he was properly confined in SHU, and then properly retained in SHU while awaiting transfer to a maximum security facility (Attica). While at Attica, he was again convicted of the same offense but sentenced to keeplock, rather than SHU, at that higher-security facility. Upon his return to Collins, as an inmate who had at least twice violated DOCS drug policy, he was properly admitted to SHU because his record at Attica "raise[d] a reasonable question as to whether he presently is ready to adhere to the department's rules and policies governing inmate behavior." Claimant's assertion that he could not be confined to Collins' SHU because he was neither an inmate of a medium security facility nor serving a sentence of confinement to SHU is hyper-technical, relies only on Section 301.6, and completely ignores the authorization for such assignment found in Section 301.3. I hold that Defendant is entitled to summary judgment in its favor and dismissal of the causes of action alleging wrongful excessive confinement.

Material issues of fact and legal issues remain unresolved with respect to his claim for compensation above the amount of $70.00 for the chain and medallion that, it apparently is conceded, was lost during Claimant's transfer. Claimant bears the burden of proving the actual value of that property, and Defendant has reserved the right to prove accord and satisfaction.

Motion No. M-64062 is granted in part and denied in part; Motion No. M-64188 is denied; Motion No. M-64326 is denied; and Cross Motion No. CM-64446 is granted with respect to the causes of action asserting wrongful excessive confinement, which are dismissed, and denied with respect to the cause of action for property loss.

March 4, 2002
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]The original claim was limited to a single cause of action accruing in December 1998. Claimant subsequently moved to file an amended claim setting forth causes of action accruing in April 6, 1999. Claimant was granted permission to file and serve a "Supplemental Claim" by order of former Judge John P. Lane, issued September 10, 1999 (Motion No. M-59573).
  2. [2]Claimant also seeks an order compelling Defendant to respond to certain demands contained in his Notice to Admit. A motion to compel may be brought if a party fails to respond to "any request, notice, interrogatory, demand, question or order under this article, except a notice to admit under section 3123" (CPLR 3124 [emphasis added]). Consequently, this portion of the motion will be disregarded.