Upon the foregoing papers, Defendant's motion is granted. This is Defendant's
motion for dismissal of the claim. In his amended claim, filed on October 23,
2001, Claimant alleges that he was illegally confined in the Special Housing
Unit ("SHU") at Orleans Correctional Facility for a period of 77 days. Claimant
alleges that, after a urine test, he was improperly found guilty of a violation
of rule 113.24 (use of narcotics). According to Claimant, Defendant violated
several regulations relating to the manner in which urinalysis tests are to be
The hearing relating to Claimant's charges was conducted on July 7, 2000.
Claimant was found guilty of the charges and as a result, he was sentenced to,
inter alia, 90 days of SHU confinement. Claimant alleges that the
hearing officer, Captain Flagler, deprived him of a fair hearing because his
decision was arbitrary and capricious, in light of Claimant's pointing out the
defects in the way that the urinalysis testing was conducted. Specifically,
Claimant alleges that the regulations require that the testing be authorized by
someone with the rank of Lieutenant or higher, that a chain of custody for the
urine sample be established, and that the inmate misbehavior report indicate
that the inmate was informed of the reason for obtaining the urine sample.
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 has
attached to its moving papers a certified transcript of Claimant's disciplinary
hearing and the related hearing records. Defendant then addresses each of the
alleged deficiencies in Claimant's urinalysis tests and indicates, with
references to the record and transcript, how, in each instance, Defendant did,
in fact, follow the applicable rules and regulations. Specifically, Defendant
demonstrated that: 1) the testing was authorized by Lieutenant A. Tumiel; 2)
that Correction Officer Moffat adequately established a chain of custody for the
urine sample; and 3) that the regulatory language requires an inmate to be
informed, not of the reason for the test, but that his refusal to submit a urine
sample (not an issue here) may incur the same penalty as a positive result.
Defendant argues that, because the rules and regulations were followed, it
enjoys immunity from actions for monetary damages such as this.
Claimant has failed to respond to Defendant's motion or contest the accuracy of
the arguments made by Defendant's counsel.
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, 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. 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, supra.; Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d
765 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 dismissal of the claim is granted.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to close the file.