New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

OWENS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK , #2003-030-033, Claim No. 105798


Pro se inmate's wrongful confinement claim dismissed after trial

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:
August 13, 2003
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

John Owens, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim Number 105798 that he was wrongfully confined by Defendant's agents while he was an inmate at Sing Sing Correctional Facility (hereafter Sing Sing). Trial of the matter was held at Sing Sing on June 27, 2003.

As an initial matter, Defendant made a motion to dismiss the claim based upon its fourth affirmative defense, a failure to properly serve the claim, pursuant to Court of Claims Act §11. The claim was served on the Attorney General by regular mail, as established by Counsel's submission of an envelope showing that the enclosures were sent by regular, not certified, mail. [See, Exhibit A]. Additionally, Claimant admitted on the record that the Claim was sent by regular mail.
The filing and service requirements contained in Court of Claims Act §§10 and 11
are jurisdictional in nature and must be strictly construed. Finnerty v New York State Thruway Auth., 75 NY2d 721, 722-723 (1989); see also Welch v State of New York, 286 AD2d 496, 729 NYS2d 527, 529 (2d Dept 2001); Conner v State of New York, 268 AD2d 706, 707 (3d Dept 2000). Indeed, the statute provides in pertinent part ". . . [n]o judgment shall be granted in favor of any claimant unless such claimant shall have complied with the provisions of this section applicable to his claim . . ." Court of Claims Act §10.
Court of Claims Act §11(a) provides that ". . . a copy [of the claim] shall be served personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, upon the attorney general . . ." within the time prescribed in Court of Claims Act §10; and service is complete when it is received in the Attorney General's office. Court of Claims Act §11(a)(i). Service upon the Attorney General by ordinary mail is generally insufficient to acquire jurisdiction over the State, unless the State has failed to properly plead jurisdictional defenses or raise them by motion. Court of Claims Act §11(c)
; Edens v State of New York, 259 AD2d 729 (2d Dept 1999); Philippe v State of New York, 248 AD2d 827 (3d Dept 1998).
The Claimant has the burden of establishing proper service [Boudreau v Ivanov, 154 AD2d 638, 639 (2d Dept 1989)] by a preponderance of the evidence. See Maldonado v County of Suffolk, 229 AD2d 376 (2d Dept 1996). Regulations require that proof of service be filed with the Chief Clerk within ten (10) days of service on the defendant. [See 22 NYCRR § 206.5(a)].
Here, the Claimant has not been able to establish that he served the Claim upon the Attorney General as required, and the Defendant has raised the jurisdictional issue in its Answer and in a timely motion. Court of Claims Act §11(c). Thus Claimant has failed to establish, by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence, that the Attorney General was served with a copy of the claim as required by Court of Claims Act §11(a), therefore this Court has no jurisdiction over the claim.

More substantively, the Claim should also be dismissed because Claimant failed to establish his cause of action for wrongful confinement in any event. He testified that as a result of a Tier 2 disciplinary proceeding, he was sentenced to serve thirty (30) days keeplock, commencing on October 21, 2001 and expiring on November 20, 2001. At the same time, he was given a disciplinary disposition on a Tier 3 violation sentencing him to 74 days keeplock, to commence on October 22, 2001 and conclude on January 2, 2002. Rather than being released on January 2, 2002 as he "should have been,"[1]
he remained confined until February 2, 2002. He asked for damages for the alleged wrongful confinement for thirty (30) days.
Computer printouts of Claimant's disciplinary history show the two proceedings referred to. [
See, Exhibits 1 and 2]. On cross-examination, however, Claimant conceded that it had never been indicated that these two separate disciplinary sentences were to be served concurrently rather than consecutively. As noted by the Attorney General, with respect to sentences imposed for Tier 2 and Tier 3 violations, unless the hearing officer specifically designates that such sentences are to be served concurrently, they are served consecutively. [See, Exhibit B; 7 NYCRR §254.7(a)(2)].[2]
To establish a
prima facie case of wrongful confinement, a "species" of the tort of false imprisonment, [Gittens, 132 Misc 2d 399, 407 (Ct Cl 1986)], 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). The quasi-judicial acts of correctional 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). Accordingly, Claimant was confined pursuant to an authorized disciplinary disposition pursuant to the immunity principles of Arteaga v State of New York, supra.
Claim Number 105798 is therefore dismissed in its entirety.

Let Judgment be entered accordingly.

August 13, 2003
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] All quotations are to trial notes or audiotapes unless otherwise indicated.
[2] "Any penalty imposed pursuant to this section shall run consecutively to any other like penalty previously imposed unless the hearing officer advised the inmate that the penalty shall run concurrently."