New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

DALLAS v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-018-289, Claim No. 108224, Motion No. M-67471


Synopsis


Case Information

UID:
2004-018-289
Claimant(s):
CALVIN DALLAS The Court has amended the caption sua sponte to reflect the State of New York as the only proper defendant.
Claimant short name:
DALLAS
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
The Court has amended the caption sua sponte to reflect the State of New York as the only proper defendant.
Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
108224
Motion number(s):
M-67471
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Claimant's attorney:
CALVIN DALLASPro Se
Defendant's attorney:
ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: JOEL L. MARMELSTEIN, ESQUIREAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 17, 2004
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Defendant brings a pre-answer motion to dismiss the claim for failure to state a cause of

action. Claimant has not responded to the motion.

The claim seeks damages for wrongful confinement in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and loss of four months good time allowance (Claim ¶ 4). Claimant asserts that he was served six ambiguous misbehavior reports, and after a "contested" Superintendent's Hearing was found guilty. The claimant received placement in the SHU for one year, loss of major privileges, and one year loss of good time. Claimant brought an Article 78 proceeding and asserts that the charges were all annulled by the Appellate Division, Third Department. Actually, the findings of guilt on four of the alleged violations of prison disciplinary rules were affirmed, and two were annulled for lack of sufficient evidence (see Dallas v Bintz, 307 AD2d 561).

Defendant asserts that the claim fails to state a cause of action because the defendant is entitled to absolute immunity for discretionary decisions of this nature. Defendant relies on Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212 to support its position.

The Court of Appeals in Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212,[1] held that in situations where governmental action "involves the conscious exercise of discretion of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature" absolute immunity will attach to those decisions where the "exercise of reasoned judgment...could typically produce different acceptable results" (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d at 216). The facts in Arteaga are similiar to those presented here. In Arteaga, the claimants brought actions seeking money damages because the Department of Correctional Services prosecuted disciplinary charges against them, which they contend resulted in unlawful sanctions being imposed. One claimant's guilty determination was reveresed on appeal, and the other claimant's finding of guilt was annulled after an Article 78 proceeding. Despite the ultimate reversal of those findings, the Court of Appeals adjudged that claimants could not bring a viable claim against the State, because the determinations made by the correction officers and prison employees, in compliance with established procedural requirements, which involved exercising their judgment to assess an inmate's conduct, in light of the Department of Correctional Services' rules and regulations, were entitled to quasi-judicial immunity (see also Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d 765; Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d 887, lv denied 93 NY2d 819).

Here, claimant contends that the misbehavior reports were brought without appropriate grounds, the guilty findings made after a Superintendent's Hearing were not based upon substantial evidence, and the punishment imposed was improper, which is, in his opinion, supported by the Appellate Division's decision annulling two of the guilty findings.

The actions of the prison employees in disciplining claimant, within the scope of their authority and in compliance with the established Department of Correctional Services procedures, involve discretionary acts which are entitled to absolute immunity, and the imposition of time in the SHU, loss of privileges and good behavior allowance cannot form the basis of a claim for damages.

Defendant's motion is GRANTED and the claim is hereby DISMISSED.


February 17, 2004
Syracuse, New York
HON. DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Judge of the Court of Claims



The Court has considered the following documents in deciding this motion:


Notice of Motion......................................................................................................1


Affirmation of Joel L. Marmelstein, Esquire, Assistant Attorney General,

in support.......................................................................................................2


No response was received from claimant.



[1]Two cases were actually consolidated for appeal, Arteaga v State of New York and Treacy v State of New York.