Douglas Ames, the Claimant herein, alleges he was wrongfully confined to
keeplock while he was incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereafter
Sing Sing). Trial of the matter was held at Sing Sing on December 20,
Claimant testified that on October 22, 1999, at approximately 11:00 am he was
returning from his assigned program in the Law library facility when he was "
informed that ...[he] had been keeplocked - meaning confined to...[his] cell -
for punitive reasons....[He] knew he hadn't done
, yet he was kept keeplocked in his cell for seven (7) days without ever being
told why he was being punished, although he asked repeatedly. On October 28,
1999, in the evening, "another officer came and let...[him]
Claimant filed a facility grievance the next day, requesting an investigation.
The response of the Inmate Grievance Resolution Committee (hereafter IGRC)
indicates that he was keeplocked for the seven (7) day period, and no adequate
explanation for the status was provided by any staff member or supervisor and,
indeed, no misbehavior report was ever written. [Claimant's Exhibit "2"]. The
IGRC notes that there are no records to expunge, and that "...as far
as...[grievant's] request for pay goes, the directive only allows an inmate to
receive idle pay for confined time."
The Superintendent's Response confirms the IGRC, and accepts the grievance,
indicating that the "staff have been dealt with administratively...[and that]
grievant has already been paid." [Claimant's Exhibit "1"].
Claimant testified that he lost all privileges while keeplocked, and was
allowed only one (1) hour of recreation per day. Otherwise, he spent
twenty-three (23) hours per day in his cell. He missed regular recreation,
"...movies, the yard, the gym and even religious services." He suffered
humiliation and harassment from fellow inmates, and was uncertain how this
treatment would affect his ability to get to the "honor block" for which he had
No other witnesses testified.
Counsel for the Defendant noted for the Court that New York State Department of
Correctional Services (hereafter DOCS) Directive No. 4932 allows the director to
confine an inmate for investigative purposes for no longer than seventy two (72)
hours. Claimant argued that he was confined for no apparent reason, and that
the "72 hour rule" would not apply here since there was no ongoing investigation
The quasi-judicial acts of correction employees taken in furtherance of
authorized disciplinary measures are entitled to absolute immunity.
Arteaga v State of New York
, 72 NY 2d 212, 219-220 (1988). From the
uncontradicted facts presented it would appear that the correction officers took
inappropriate disciplinary measures outside the scope of their discretionary
functions in imposing an arbitrary penalty for this claimant. See,
, 7 NYCRR Part 251. There is every indication that the defendant
acted inconsistently with its own rules and regulations, giving rise to a
cognizable cause of action. Arteaga v State of New York,
; Holloway v State of New York
, 285 AD2d 765 (3d Dept.
: Gittens v State of New York
, 132 Misc 2d 399
(NY Ct. Claims 1986). Accordingly, these arbitrary determinations are not
entitled to immunity.
To establish a
case of wrongful confinement, a "species" of the tort of
false imprisonment, [Gittens
., at 407], a claimant
must show "...(1) the defendant intended to confine him, (2) the...[claimant]
was conscious of the confinement, (3) the...[claimant] did not consent to the
confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged...."
Broughton v State of New York
, 37 NY 2d 451,456 (1975). In this case the
claimant has established, without contradiction, all four elements. There has
been no indication that any period of this confinement is somehow privileged.
No evidence of an ongoing investigation involving the Claimant - implicating the
so-called 72 hour rule - was presented.
In terms of damages, unlike some other cases involving wrongful confinement,
where, for example, the confinement results from a miscalculation of time to be
served, or some misbehavior on an inmate's part first triggers the detention,
here there was simply an arbitrary determination to lock this claimant up,
making the misconduct all the more egregious.
Accordingly, the Claimant was wrongfully confined for seven (7) days. He is
hereby awarded a total of $525.00 ($75.00 per day) for this deprivation, and
that to the extent claimant has paid a filing fee it may be recoverable pursuant
to Court of Claims Act § 11-a (2).
Let judgement be entered accordingly.