New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GONCALVES v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-031-060, Claim No. 106086, Motion Nos. M-66668, CM-66750


Claimant's disciplinary hearing was conducted in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. Claimant's confinement relating to such hearing was, therefore, not improper. Claimant's motion for Summary judgment denied. Defendant's motion for summary judgment granted.

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:
New York State Attorney General
BY: WENDY E. MORCIO, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 6, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers, numbered 1 to 6, were read on motions by Claimant and Defendant for summary judgment:
1) Claimant's Notice of Motion (M-66668), filed April 10, 2003;
2) Claimant's Affidavit, sworn to March 23, 2003, with attached exhibits;
3) Defendant's Notice of Cross-Motion (M-66750), filed April 30, 2003;
  1. Affidavit of Wendy E. Morcio, Esq., sworn to April 29, 2003, with attached exhibits;
5) Affidavit of Donald Selsky, sworn to April 29, 2003, with attached exhibits;
6) Claimant's Reply Affidavit, sworn to May 15, 2003, with attached exhibits.

Upon the foregoing papers, Claimant's motion is denied and Defendant's motion is granted. Claimant and Defendant have both moved for summary judgment. In his amended claim, filed on December 13, 2002, Claimant, an inmate at Wende Correctional Facility at the time, alleges that his constitutional rights were violated when he was found guilty of what he alleges were bogus disciplinary charges after an inmate disciplinary hearing. Claimant received this "bogus" inmate misbehavior report on May 29, 2000. He was charged with violations of rules: 113.25 (drug possession); 113.22 (property in unauthorized area); and 110.20 (tampering with an identification card). He was kept in keeplock, pending the completion of his disciplinary hearing, on those charges. The hearing commenced on June 4, 2000, and was concluded on June 7, 2000. Claimant was found guilty of the charges and, as a result, he was sentenced to 10 days of keeplock, 10 days loss of phone privileges, 45 days loss of packages, and he was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2.00.

Following the hearing, Claimant appealed the determination administratively. This determination was affirmed by Donald Selsky, the director of the Inmate Disciplinary Program for the Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") on August 9, 2000. Claimant then commenced an Article 78 proceeding concerning the hearing determination but, prior to appearing in court in that proceeding, Donald Selsky again reviewed Claimant's hearing and reversed the determination on August 31, 2001. At that time, all references to the charges against Claimant were expunged from his institutional record. Based upon this reversal, the Article 78 proceeding was dismissed as moot.

Claimant alleges that the hearing officer, Captain Bradt, and Donald Selsky both knew that the charges against him were bogus and, nevertheless, intentionally deprived him of his rights to a fair hearing, in violation of his constitutional rights. Claimant does not indicate how either of these two individuals were aware that the charges against him were bogus, and he does not indicate any specific rule or regulation that was violated during the hearing process.

Claimant's motion for summary judgment appears to be premised upon the fact that his disciplinary determination was reversed and expunged, administratively, prior to his Article 78 proceeding being heard. Claimant apparently believes that this demonstrates that Defendant knew all along it had acted improperly and in violation of Claimant's rights at the hearing, and Claimant equates the administrative reversal of his disciplinary determination with his right to recover in this action. However, even if the Article 78 application had been heard and Claimant been successful in that proceeding, he would still have to demonstrate that the disciplinary hearing was conducted in violation of the relevant rules before he could recover on this claim for monetary compensation. Further, although Claimant disputes the validity of the charges against him that were determined at the hearing, he cites no shortcoming in the hearing process itself upon which an action for illegal confinement can be based.

Defendant's motion is based upon its assertion that, even though the disciplinary determination was reversed, the process was proper and all relevant rules and regulations relating to such hearings were followed. Defendant argues that, because the rules and regulations were followed, it enjoys immunity from actions for monetary damages, such as this. Defendant also points out that Claimant was only sentenced to "pre-hearing keeplock" as a result of the determination. This is similar to a "time-served" sentence, as he was given no additional time in keeplock after the hearing. 7 NYCRR § 251-1.6(a) permits confinement of an inmate pending his disciplinary hearing. For this reason, Defendant correctly argues that Claimant would have spent the same amount of time in keeplock, even if he had been found not guilty at the disciplinary hearing.

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). The fact that the disposition from a disciplinary hearing is later reversed, either administratively or in an Article 78 proceeding, does not necessarily remove the matter from the blanket of immunity (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, supra; Bonacorsa v State of New York, Ct Cl, May 31, 1994 [Claim No. 86522], Bell, J.).

Defendant's submissions demonstrate that the Hearing Officer took appropriate disciplinary measures and acted within the scope of his discretionary functions in conducting the hearing and in imposing penalties upon Claimant. The same can be said for the review of the hearing by Mr. Selsky. There is no indication that Defendant violated any of its own rules and regulations in conducting the hearing, or otherwise acted outside the sphere of privileged actions (Arteaga, 72 NY2d 212, supra; Holloway v State of New York, 2001 WL 777553 (3d Dept. 2001); cf. Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399). Accordingly, their determinations are entitled to immunity.

Based upon the foregoing it is:

ORDERED, that Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and Claimant's motion for summary judgment is denied. The Clerk is directed to close the file.

August 6, 2003
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims