New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LUNA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-030-010, Claim No. 100070


Pro se inmate's claim of wrongful confinement dismissed. Dispositions entered here are just the type of quasi-judicial determinations shielded by immunity principle of Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 219-220 (1988).

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:
Defendant's attorney:
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 4, 2003
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Alejandro Luna, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim Number 100070 that Defendant's agents wrongfully confined him while he was an inmate at Fishkill Correctional Facility (hereafter Fishkill). Trial of the matter was held at Fishkill on February 21, 2003.

Claimant testified through an interpreter that on or about November 30, 1997 a fight broke out between two unknown inmates at Fishkill in the "1-C Housing Unit."[1]
Claimant was taken from his cell and placed in the Special Housing Unit (hereafter SHU), having been identified by a fellow inmate as one of the assailants. At the Tier 3 disciplinary hearing held on December 8, 1997, Claimant was found guilty of "stabbing another inmate" and given extensive confinement time in SHU in addition to loss of privileges. [See, attachment to Claim No. 100070, Superintendent Hearing Disposition rendered December 8, 1997].
An appeal of the Superintendent's hearing to the State Commissioner of Correctional Services resulted in a reversal and remand of that determination on March 3, 1998, with the direction that the matter be scheduled for a rehearing within 7 days of receipt of the notice of reversal. [
See, attachment to Claim No. 100070, Department of Correctional Services Review of Superintendent's Hearing dated March 3, 1998].
A rehearing was held on March 9, 1998 and concluded on March 13, 1998. Claimant was again found guilty, and the finding was affirmed by the Superintendent. On June 8, 1998 the Superintendent's hearing of March 13, 1998 was reversed by the State Commissioner. [
See, attachment to Claim No. 100070, Department of Correctional Services Review of Superintendent's Hearing dated June 8, 1998].
There is no indication in the Claim that Claimant's confinement continued after this final reversal, nor did Claimant testify to that effect. A review of the relevant parts of a computer print-out disciplinary history Claimant submitted in evidence shows only the incident of November 30, 1997, and what could be the Superintendent's discretionary review on December 23, 1997. [Claimant's Exhibit "1"]. It contains an indication that the Claimant's "service dates" were "11/30/97 12/23/97",
[Id], which would seem to imply that Claimant was released from SHU on that date, though, without explanation, that conclusion cannot be drawn. No witness testified as to the meaning of the abbreviations contained on the print-out.
No other witnesses testified and no other evidence was submitted.

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 (Ct Cl 1986).
To establish a
prima facie case of wrongful confinement, a "species" of the tort of false imprisonment, [Gittens, supra, 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), cert den sub nom. Schanbarger v Kellogg, 423 US 929 (1975).
From the facts presented it would appear that correction officers acted within the bounds of New York State Department of Correctional Services rules and regulations. The misbehavior report served upon Claimant, alleging facility rule violations, triggered the requirements of a Tier 3 disciplinary hearing, in accordance with 7 NYCRR § 254.1
et seq; as well as the "timeliness" provisions of 7 NYCRR §251-5.1. Any hearing must be commenced within seven (7) days of 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 § 251-5.1(b)].
The dispositions entered after timely concluded hearings[2]
on December 8, 1997, and March 13, 1998 are just the type of quasi-judicial determinations shielded by the immunity principles of Arteaga v State of New York, supra. Because of the appeal process, those determinations were reversed. Initially there was a remand for a rehearing that was timely commenced and concluded, and ultimately there was a complete reversal. There has been no showing that Claimant was kept confined beyond the reversal of the final disposition on June 8, 1998, or that he lost any privileges beyond the initial period imposed.
Based on the trial testimony and documentary evidence herein, Claimant has failed to establish a
prima facie case of wrongful confinement. Defendant's motion to dismiss, reserved on at the time of trial, is hereby granted, and Claim Number 100070 is dismissed in its entirety.
Let Judgment be entered accordingly.

April 4, 2003
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] All quotations are to trial notes or audiotapes unless otherwise indicated.
[2] See, 7 NYCRR § 251.5.1 (b) requiring that a superintendent's hearing be concluded within fourteen (14) days of the writing of the misbehavior report.