New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PERRY-SCHEFFEL v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-015-385, Claim No. 108115, Motion No. M-67657


Case Information

URSULA PERRY-SCHEFFEL By Order dated October 23, 2003 the caption of this claim was amended sua sponte to reflect the only properly named defendant.
Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :
By Order dated October 23, 2003 the caption of this claim was amended sua sponte to reflect the only properly named defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Melvin T. Higgins, Esquire
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Kevan J. Acton, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 3, 2004
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the third and fourth causes of action asserted in the claim pursuant to Rule 3212 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules is granted. The claim filed on August 8, 2003 asserts, inter alia, causes of action for false arrest and malicious prosecution allegedly arising on August 9, 2002 when the claimant was arrested by Court Officer James Kennedy and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The defendant has included as Exhibit A to his motion papers a decision and judgment of the Town Court, Town of Gardiner (Blatchly, J.) , finding the claimant guilty of disorderly conduct (Penal Law § 240.20 [3]). Also included as defendant's Exhibit B is a Certificate of Disposition dated September 26, 2003.

Justice Blatchly's decision relates the salient facts surrounding claimant's arrest. Apparently claimant's husband and brother became embroiled in an argument in the parking lot of the Ulster County Family Court in Kingston, New York. Claimant was arrested by a court officer who was attempting to mediate the dispute when she began to involve herself in the altercation. Claimant's counsel does not deny that his client was found guilty upon a charge of violating the penal law proscription against disorderly conduct contained in Penal Law § 240.20 (3).

To establish a prima facie case of malicious prosecution a claimant must establish the initiation of a judicial proceeding by the defendant, that the proceeding was terminated in favor of the accused, the absence of probable cause and malice (Martin v City of Albany, 42 NY2d 13; Romero v State of New York, 294 AD2d 730; Ellsworth v City of Gloversville, 269 AD2d 654). It is claimant's burden to establish all elements of a malicious prosecution cause of action (Hollender v Trump Vil. Coop., 58 NY2d 420; Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451).

A cause of action for false arrest is established upon proof that "the defendant intended to confine plaintiff, that the plaintiff was conscious of the confinement and did not consent to the confinement, and that the confinement was not otherwise privileged" (Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d 78, 85; see also Parvi v City of Kingston, 41 NY2d 553). In a false arrest action "the defendant has the burden of proving legal justification [probable cause] as an affirmative defense" (Broughton v State of New York, supra at p 458).

In the instant matter the existence of probable cause, if established, is dispositive. Where the facts concerning an arrest and/or confinement are not seriously disputed the Court may determine the existence of probable cause as a matter of law (Saunders v County of Washington, 255 AD2d 788).

With regard to claimant's false arrest and malicious prosecution causes of action, the defendant has established both the existence of probable cause and the unfavorable termination of the prior judicial proceeding through proof establishing that the claimant was found guilty of the charge of disorderly conduct. A conviction is not a termination favorable to the accused and conclusively establishes probable cause for purposes of claims sounding in both false arrest and malicious prosecution (Bennett v New York City Hous. Auth., 245 AD2d 254; Kandekore v Town of Greenburgh, 243 AD2d 610).

The protestations of claimant's counsel alleging that the decision of the town court was unsupported by the evidence and based upon an erroneous interpretation of the facts are insufficient to establish the legal validity of the third and fourth causes of action contained in the claim and those causes of action are, accordingly, dismissed.

March 3, 2004
Saratoga Springs, New York
Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated November 12, 2003;
  2. Affirmation of Kevan J. Acton dated November 12, 2003 with exhibits;
  3. Affirmation of Melvin T. Higgins dated December 19, 2003 with exhibits.