New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

JOHNSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-009-08, Claim No. 106660, Motion No. M-65993


Synopsis


Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim for wrongful confinement was granted, based upon the immunity for quasi-judicial decisions provided by Arteaga, 72 NY2d 212.

Case Information

UID:
2003-009-08
Claimant(s):
CLYDE JOHNSON
Claimant short name:
JOHNSON
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
106660
Motion number(s):
M-65993
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
NICHOLAS V. MIDEY, JR.
Claimant's attorney:
CLYDE JOHNSON, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General
BY: G. Lawrence Dillon, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 26, 2003
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

Defendant has brought this pre-answer motion for dismissal of the claim for failure to assert a valid cause of action.

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:
Pre-Answer Motion to Dismiss Claim, Affirmation, with Exhibits 1,2


Affidavit in Opposition, with Exhibit 3

Filed Papers: Claim

In his filed claim, claimant seeks damages for wrongful confinement. Claimant contends that he spent approximately 75 days[1] in the Special Housing Unit at Oneida Correctional Facility, pursuant to a misbehavior report issued against him and following a disciplinary hearing.

Claimant contends that the State had no reasonable grounds to issue a misbehavior report against him, which provided the initial basis for his confinement in the Special Housing Unit. He additionally contends that he was not provided with a fair hearing in that the hearing officer was biased against him, and that this officer suppressed exculpatory evidence and distorted testimony against him.

Defendant contends that claimant has failed to state a cause of action based upon the holding of the Court of Appeals in Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212. In the Arteaga claim, the Court of Appeals held that correction officers involved in the inmate disciplinary process are provided absolute immunity for actions taken which are quasi-judicial in nature, provided that such actions are within their authority and in compliance with governing rules and regulations.

Based upon a review of the claim and the papers submitted on this motion, there is no indication that either the hearing or administrative appeal were not done in accordance with applicable rules and regulations of the Department of Correctional Services. The initial confinement for investigation purposes was a discretionary determination authorized by regulation (see, 7 NYCRR § 251-1.6[a]), the disciplinary hearing was timely commenced and conducted, and claimant was released from the Special Housing Unit upon the administrative reversal of the disciplinary disposition. Since it therefore appears that the correction officers followed all applicable rules and regulations, and acted in a quasi-judicial capacity, they must be afforded absolute immunity for their actions (Arteaga v State of New York, supra). Even though the disciplinary disposition was ultimately reversed administratively, such fact does not give rise, in and of itself, to a cognizable cause of action for money damages (Arteaga v State of New York, supra; Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d 765). Accordingly, this claim must be dismissed.

Based upon the foregoing, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-65993 is hereby GRANTED; and it is further

ORDERED, that Claim No. 106660 is hereby DISMISSED.


February 26, 2003
Syracuse, New York

HON. NICHOLAS V. MIDEY, JR.
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1] Based upon the claim and papers before the Court on this motion, it appears that claimant was initially placed in the Special Housing Unit at Oneida Correctional Facility on February 1, 2002, and that he was released from the unit on April 12, 2002 following reversal of the superintendent's hearing.