This is Defendant's motion for the dismissal of the claim in this matter. In
his underlying claim, filed on June 11, 2003, Claimant, an inmate at Auburn
Correctional Facility at the time, alleges that he was illegally confined from
February 22, 2003 through March 9,2003, after receiving a bogus inmate
misbehavior report. Although the claim is confusing and presents a questionable
time line regarding the events alleged, the complaint, combined with the
exhibits Claimant submitted in response to this motion, demonstrate that the
allegedly bogus inmate misbehavior report was written on February 22, 2003, and
given to Claimant on February 23, 2003. According to Claimant, the disciplinary
hearing relating to the February 22, 2003 incident was adjourned once, at his
request, and then completed on March 9, 2003. He alleges that, pending the
hearing, he was confined to his cell ("keeplocked") until completion of the
hearing on March 9, 2003, at which time the charges against him were
Defendant seeks dismissal of the claim, in part, based upon Claimant's failure
to serve the claim upon the Attorney General by certified mail, return receipt
requested, as required by Court of Claims Act § 11(a). Defendant has
submitted the affidavit of Senior Clerk Carol McKay, which indicates Mr. Herman
served the claim upon the Attorney General by regular first class mail on June
12, 2003. A copy of the envelope in which the claim was received was attached
as an exhibit to Ms. McKay's affidavit.
Claimant, in opposing Defendant's motion, asserts that he did serve Defendant
by certified mail, return receipt requested, and he attaches to his response an
affidavit of service purporting to support his allegation. However, the claim
was verified on June 8, 2003, and this affidavit of service (which appears to
relate to the notice of intention and not the claim) states that Defendant was
served on April 30, 2003. For this reason, that affidavit could not have
related to Claimant's service of the claim.
Claimant has also failed to submit adequate proof, such as a copy of the return
receipt, or his mailing disbursement form, to demonstrate service upon
Defendant. Self-serving statements that the claim was properly served are
insufficient to defeat Defendant's motion to dismiss. (Washington v State of
New York, Ct Cl, December 2, 2002 [Claim No. 105145], Ruderman, J., UID
#2002-010-054). Generally, a claimant is required to produce the return receipt
when the manner of service is challenged (Govin v State of New York, 301
Court of Claims Act § 11(a) provides, in relevant part, that a copy of
the claim at issue "shall be served personally or by certified mail, return
receipt requested, upon the attorney general." The requirements set forth in
Court of Claims Act § 11 are jurisdictional in nature and, as such, must be
strictly construed (see Finnerty v New York State Thruway Auth.,
75 NY2d 721, 722; Commack Self-Serv. Kosher Meats v State of New York,
270 AD2d 687). The Court is not free to disregard this requirement.
"[D]iscretion, equity, or a harsh result may not temper application of a rule of
law" (Martin v State of New York, 185 Misc 2d 799, 804).
Claimant has failed to meet the literal requirements of Court of Claims Act
§ 11 by effecting proper service of the claim upon the Attorney General.
The claim must, therefore, be dismissed.
Additionally, I find that, even if the claim had been properly served,
Defendant's motion must still be granted because the claim fails to set forth a
valid cause of action. 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).
Claimant does not allege that his disciplinary hearing was untimely, or that he
was confined after the hearing concluded. Claimant's action is premised on the
fact that the disciplinary charges against him were dismissed after the hearing.
Claimant apparently believes that this demonstrates a valid cause of action
concerning his confinement, pending the outcome of the hearing. However, 7
NYCRR § 251-1.6(a) specifically permits confinement of an inmate pending
his disciplinary hearing. As the pre-hearing confinement of Claimant did not
exceed Defendant's authority, the decision to so confine Claimant is entitled to
absolute immunity and the claim must be dismissed.
Based upon the foregoing it is:
ORDERED, that Defendant's motion for dismissal of the claim is granted.
The claim is dismissed in its entirety. The Clerk is directed to close the