New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

CRAGGAN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-032-051, Claim No. 105870, Motion No. M-66157


Pro se inmate's motion for summary judgment is denied as the statement of a DOCS employee, on which claimant relies, does not establish that the inmate's confinement to keeplock was unlawful.

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:
James Craggan, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, NYS Attorney General
By: Saul Aronson, Esq., Assistant Attorney General,Of Counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 12, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Claimant James Craggan, appearing pro se, has commenced an action for false imprisonment, alleging that on December 4, 2001, a Nurse Administrator at Clinton Correctional Facility placed him in keeplock in retaliation for making a complaint. He has now moved for summary judgment in his favor, on the ground that answers received in response to the interrogatories that he served on the State constitute "prima facie proof" of the allegations of his claim (Craggan affidavit, ¶4).
False imprisonment is defined as an "unlawful detention contrary to the will of the person detained, accomplished with or without process of law." False arrest is such a detention "accomplished by means of an unlawful arrest and is a trespass against the person arrested" (59 NY Jur 2d, False Imprisonment, §1, p 262). To establish that he was falsely imprisoned, claimant must prove (1) that defendant intentionally confined him, (2) that he was conscious of the confinement, (3) that he did not consent to the confinement, and (4) that the confinement was not otherwise privileged (Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451, 456 [1975], cert denied sub nom Schanbarger v Kellogg, 423 US 929).

The asserted "smoking gun evidence" posited by claimant (Craggan affidavit, p. 4 ) appears to be the statement of John Mitchell, the Nurse Administrator, made in response to an interrogatory question, that he did not order claimant placed in keeplock. This, claimant contends, is contrary to an entry made by the same individual in claimant's Ambulatory Health Record that claimant had been "K'led." In fact, Mr. Mitchell's complete response to the interrogatory was the following: "No, I wrote a misbehavior report on this inmate on 12/4/01 and turned it over to Security" (Aronson affirmation, Exhibit A [Mitchell Response to Claimant's Interrogatories]).

As defense counsel notes, the actions carried out by prison authorities in placing an inmate on keeplock status are privileged if done in accordance with law and regulations (Lee v State of New York, 124 AD2d 305 [1986]). Filing a misbehavior report is a step contemplated by the rules and regulations of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS). In addition, an officer may order an inmate placed in keeplock immediately if the inmate "represents an immediate threat to the safety, security or order of the facility or an immediate danger to other persons or property" (7 NYCRR §251-1.6[a]).

Defendant does not dispute that claimant was placed in keeplock on December 4, 2001. The more critical issue presented, and still not decided, is whether that action was privileged, i.e., whether it was done in accordance with law and regulations. The statement to which claimant refers as proving his case does not conclusively determine this issue and, in fact, does not necessarily support claimant's case. Summary judgment would be inappropriate at this juncture (CPLR 3212).

Claimant's motion is denied.

June 12, 2003
Albany, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were read on claimant's motion for summary judgment in his favor.
1. Notice of Motion and Supporting Affidavit of James Craggan, pro se

2. Affirmation in Opposition of Saul Aronson, Esq., AAG, with annexed Exhibit

3. Letter request of James Craggan, pro se[1]

Filed papers: Claim - Answer

[1] In response to this request, the Court adjourned the return date of this motion to permit claimant to file reply papers. No such papers were received.