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
, 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 §
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,"
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. [
, 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.
, Exhibit B; 7 NYCRR
To establish a
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
, 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
Claim Number 105798 is therefore dismissed in its entirety.
Let Judgment be entered accordingly.