New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

HENRY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-031-172, Claim No. 103927, Motion No. M-69329


Claimant's disciplinary hearing was conducted in accordance with governing rules and regulations. Claimant's confinement following such hearing was, therefore, not improper. Defendant's motion for dismissal of the claim is granted

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:
Defendant's attorney:
New York State Attorney General
BY: JAMES L. GELORMINI, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 8, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers, numbered 1 to 4, were read on motion by Defendant for dismissal of the claim:
  1. Notice of Motion, filed October 28, 2004;
2) Affirmation of James L. Gelormini, Esq., dated October 26, 2004, with attached exhibits;
3) Defendant's Memorandum of Law, dated October 26, 2004;
  1. Filed Papers: Claim, Answer, Amended Claim and Amended Answer.
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 conducted.

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.

December 8, 2004
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims