New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MATAGRANO v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-015-303, Claim No. 103128, Motion No. M-65769


Portion of claim seeking to recover damages for wrongful confinement barred by absolute immunity doctrine. Decision to place claimant in SHU after being returned to facility from outside hospital subsequent to suicide attempt deemed quasi-judicial determination for which State is not liable. Punitive damages claim likewise dismissed.

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:
Matthew John Matagrano, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: G. Lawrence Dillon, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
November 8, 2002
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Defendant's motion to dismiss that portion of the claim asserting a cause of action for money damages arising from claimant's confinement in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) prior to the administrative reversal of a disciplinary hearing determination is granted. The Court also dismisses that portion of the claim which seeks punitive damages. The instant claim which consists of 112 numbered paragraphs was the subject of a prior motion for late claim relief (M-61531). The Court's decision and order of July 13, 2000 addressing such motion winnowed the numerous allegations and purported causes of action down to the following: (1) wrongful confinement following claimant's suicide attempt; (2) verbal sexual harassment on 11/14/1999; (3) assault by a correction officer on 11/14/1999 and (4) the loss of certain personal property on 11/8/1999.

Defendant now seeks to dismiss the wrongful confinement cause of action on the ground that the claim is barred by the doctrine of absolute immunity enunciated in Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212. That motion must be granted.

The decision to place claimant in the SHU following his return to the correctional facility after attempting suicide and receiving medical attention at an outside medical facility may only be viewed as an exercise of discretionary conduct of a quasi judicial nature by correction officials to which no liability can attach. This is true with regard to both the time spent in the SHU prior to his administrative hearing (see, Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d 887) and time spent there in advance of the administrative reversal of the hearing officer's determination (Minieri v State of New York, 204 AD2d 982). Claimant has not alleged that he was confined in the SHU subsequent to the administrative reversal.

The portion of the claim alleging wrongful confinement is, therefore, dismissed.

So too, it has long been held that as a matter of public policy punitive damages may not be assessed against the State (Sharapata v Town of Islip, 56 NY2d 332; Harvey v State of New York, 281 AD2d 846). As a result the defendant's motion to dismiss claimant's request for punitive damages is granted.

November 8, 2002
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated September 3, 2002;
  2. Affirmation of G. Lawrence Dillon dated September 3, 2002 with exhibits;
  3. Affidavit of Matthew John Matagrano sworn to September 17, 2002.