Osvaldo Solis, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim Number 104793 that he was
wrongfully confined to keeplock while he was an inmate at Sing Sing Correctional
Facility (hereafter Sing Sing). Trial of the matter was held at Sing Sing on
July 2, 2002.
Claimant testified that on April 13, 2001 at about 3:15 p.m. he was
"...confronted by Sergeant Michael Daye at this correctional
about an incident that had occurred earlier that day on U Block. Claimant
recalled that the day had proceeded normally. He had gone to his morning
assignment at "custodial maintenance school", and proceeded to the mess hall for
"chow." At the "go-round" after lunch, when the correction officers asked the
inmates what the balance of their activities for the day were, claimant
announced that he had to make a phone call to his family. At about 1:15 PM,
"movement control" announced it was "time for yard," so Claimant went to the
yard to make his phone call. He observed "something going on in U Gallery" at
the time, but took no real notice of it, and "stood in the yard, talking to his
people" for some time. He returned to his cell, and had just "gotten
comfortable", when the officer running the unit advised Claimant that he was
keeplocked pending an investigation. When Claimant asked why, he was told
"you'll find out."
Claimant said he "stood in his cell, with no idea of what was going on", until
6:30 or 7:00 p.m. At that time, correction officers came and took him to the
infirmary, to have medical personnel "check for bruises or lacerations" in
connection with "an incident that happened on U Block."
When he arrived at the infirmary, rather than proceed directly to a physical
examination, he was brought to an office where police officers "from the
community" interrogated him. It was then that Claimant learned he had been
identified by an inmate victim as one of the people who had assaulted the victim
that morning on U Block. Claimant told the police officer that he had been at
the custodial maintenance school, that the instructor could be called to verify
the fact and that a log book had been signed at both admittance and departure
from the program. Claimant said he "couldn't be David Copperfield and be in two
places at one time."
After the interview was finished, Claimant was escorted for the physical
examination. He stripped down as ordered, and no bruises were found. Claimant
said: "all the time I have been assaulted without me doing nothing just because
somebody points a finger. I tried to talk to the people assaulting me, but the
only thing they said is that you're being investigated for an incident that
happened." Claimant testified that he "stayed calm"; he "did no arm
lifting...[he] abided by everything they told...[him] to do." Claimant was
perturbed that "all he [Sergeant Daye] had to do was pick up a phone,
call...[claimant's] instructor, and it would be all done." Instead, Claimant
avers, he remained keeplocked until April 24, 2001.
An Inmate Misbehavior Report concerning the identification of Claimant as one
of three assailants in the U Block incident was filed by Sergeant Daye on April
14, 2001, and is noted as having been served on Claimant on April 15, 2001.
[Exhibit "C" to Claimant's Exhibit "1"]. A Tier 3 disciplinary hearing was
commenced and concluded on April 24, 2001, and resulted in a finding of not
guilty on the three charges lodged in the Inmate Misbehavior Report. [Exhibit
"D" to Claimant's Exhibit "1"]. The vocational instructor apparently testified
at the hearing, and confirmed that Claimant was present at the program "...all
morning on...[April 13, 2001] and produced documentation to substantiate that
fact. Also, the officer go around sheet for B block U gallery clearly showed
this inmate ‘signed out' to vocational...." [
]. When the charges were dismissed at the hearing of April 24, 2001,
Claimant was immediately released from keeplock.
No other witnesses testified.
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 NY2d 212, 219-220 (1988). If officers
act inconsistently with their own rules and regulations, or otherwise act
outside the sphere of privileged actions, liability may attach. The fact that
charges are ultimately dismissed does not give rise to a cognizable cause of
action when there is no evidence defendant acted inconsistently with its own
rules and regulations. Arteaga v State of New York, supra
Holloway v State of New York
, 285 AD2d 765 (3d Dept 2001); c.f.
Gittens v State of New York
, 132 Misc 2d 399 (NY Ct
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 NY2d 451,456 (1975).
From the facts presented it would appear that correction officers departed from
the bounds of New York State Department of Correctional Services rules and
regulations. The misbehavior report served upon Claimant, triggered the
requirements of a Tier 3 disciplinary hearing, in accordance with 7 NYCRR
; as well as the "timeliness" provisions of 7 NYCRR
§251-5.1. Any hearing must be commenced "as soon as is reasonably
practicable" but no later than seven (7) days after the confinement, unless
delay in its commencement is "authorized" by "the commissioner or his designee."
[7 NYCRR §251-5.1(a)]. Similarly, the "...hearing must be completed within
14 days following the writing of the misbehavior report unless otherwise
authorized by the commissioner or his designee.......[T]he record of the hearing
should reflect the reasons for any delay or adjournment, and an inmate should
ordinarily be made aware of these reasons unless to do so would jeopardize
institutional safety or correctional goal." [7 NYCRR §
In this case, the hearing was held eleven (11) days after the initial
confinement, and within nine (9) days of service of the misbehavior report. The
initial confinement for investigation purposes was a discretionary determination
authorized by regulation [
, 7 NYCRR § 251-1.6 (a)], and predicated upon
the identification of Claimant as one of three assailants participating in a
violent assault. While the Court agrees with Claimant that the investigating
correction officer might have expedited matters with a "simple phone call" to
the vocational instructor, it is nonetheless noted that in this case an outside
police agency was also conducting an investigation, and that the investigation
of two other accused individuals was ongoing as well. The exercise of
discretion here in the interest of the facility's security is precisely what is
protected under Arteaga v State of New York
, and its
There is no indication, however, that the four (4) day delay in commencement
of the hearing was authorized by the Commissioner or his designee as required.
, 7 NYCRR § 251-5.1(a). Thus, although Claimant was released on
a finding of "not guilty" as a result of the hearing process, he was wrongfully
confined for an unprivileged period of four (4) days since the hearing was not
commenced in a timely fashion under the applicable
Accordingly, Claimant is hereby awarded a total of $200.00 ($50.00 per day) for
It is ordered that to the extent Claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be
recoverable pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 11-a(2).
Let judgment be entered accordingly.