New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PATTERSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-031-056, Claim No. 105428, Motion Nos. M-65444, CM-65586


Synopsis


Claimant's confinement on a second disciplinary matter after expungement of a previous matter was not improper. Claimant's motion for summary judgment denied; Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment is granted.

Case Information

UID:
2002-031-056
Claimant(s):
BERNARD PATTERSON
Claimant short name:
PATTERSON
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
105428
Motion number(s):
M-65444
Cross-motion number(s):
CM-65586
Judge:
RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Claimant's attorney:
BERNARD PATTERSON, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
New York State Attorney General
BY: WILLIAM D. LONERGAN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 30, 2002
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers, numbered 1 to 7, were read on motion by Claimant and cross-motion by Defendant for summary judgment:
1. Notice of Motion (M-65444), filed July 2, 2002;
2. Affidavit of Bernard Patterson, sworn to June 18, 2002, with attached exhibits;
3. Defendant's Notice of Cross-Motion (CM-65586), filed August 1, 2002;
4. Affidavit of Patricia Priestley, sworn to July 25, 2002, with attached exhibits;
5. Defendant's memorandum of law, dated July 31, 2002;
6. Reply Affidavit of Bernard Patterson, sworn to August 6, 2002;
7. Filed papers: Claim, Answer and Claimant's Verified Bill of Particulars.

Upon the foregoing papers, Claimant's motion is denied and Defendant's cross-motion is granted. Claimant Bernard Patterson ("Claimant") and Defendant have both moved for summary judgment. In his underlying claim filed on January 4, 2002, Claimant alleges that, while an inmate at Attica Correctional Facility, he was improperly confined to the Special Housing Unit between November 14, 2001, and December 17, 2001. According to Claimant, the disciplinary hearing for which he was being held in the Special Housing Unit was reversed on November 13, 2001, and his subsequent confinement until December 17, 2001 was improper. With this motion, Claimant seeks summary judgment on his claim for illegal confinement during that time.

Defendant opposes Claimant's motion and seeks summary judgment in its favor asserting, through the affidavit of Patricia Priestley, Inmate Records Coordinator at Attica Correctional Facility, that during the relevant time period, Claimant was not being confined pursuant to the disciplinary hearing that was overturned, but for a new and distinct disciplinary violation that occurred on November 14, 2001. Ironically, this new disciplinary violation took place when Defendant attempted to release Claimant to general population after the earlier violation was overturned.

In any application for summary judgment, the moving party bears a heavy burden in establishing that he or she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of any material issues of fact (Andre v Pomeroy, 35 NY2d 361; Winegrad v New York Univ. Med. Center, 64 NY2d 851, 853).

The actions of prison personnel involving inmate disciplinary matters are generally quasi-judicial and, unless they exceed the scope of their authority or violate applicable rules, are afforded absolute immunity (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212; Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d 887, lv denied 93 NY2d 819).

7 NYCRR § 251-5.1 (a) provides as follows:
Where an inmate is confined pending a disciplinary hearing or superintendent's hearing, the hearing must be commenced as soon as is reasonably practicable following the inmate's initial confinement pending said disciplinary hearing or superintendent's hearing, but in no event may it be commenced beyond seven days of said confinement without authorization of the commissioner or his designee.
Similarly, when an inmate is confined during his disciplinary hearing, 7 NYCRR §251-5.1(b) provides in relevant part that such hearing "must be completed within 14 days following the writing of the misbehavior report unless otherwise authorized by the commissioner or his designee."

Ms. Priestley's affidavit, and the exhibits attached to it, clearly demonstrate that Claimant was being confined for this second and distinct disciplinary violation and not the disciplinary determination that was overturned. Defendant's submissions demonstrate that the disciplinary hearing relating to this new violation commenced on November 19, 2001, within the seven day period prescribed by 7 NYCRR § 251-5.1(a). Further, timely and proper extensions of time to complete this second disciplinary hearing were requested by the facility and granted by the office of the Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, as required by 7 NYCRR § 251-5.1(b). Upon determining that, due to Claimant's mental health status, a transfer would better suit Claimant's situation, the charges were dismissed and Claimant was transferred within a reasonable time to a different facility.

I find that Claimant's confinement between November 14, 2001 and December 17, 2001 was proper and in accord with the regulations that govern such proceedings. As the requirements of 7 NYCRR § 251-5.1 were met, the immunities described in Arteaga protect the hearing process, and the State may not be held liable in damages for Claimant's confinement during the pendency of his disciplinary hearing.

Based upon the foregoing it is:

ORDERED, that Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment is granted and Claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied. The claim is dismissed.

October 30, 2002
Rochester, New York

HON. RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Judge of the Court of Claims