New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LAMAGE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-034-570, Claim No. 105805, Motion No. M-69053


Synopsis


Defendant's motion to dismiss is denied. Wrongful confinement within a correctional facility is subject to a two-year negligence statute of limitations, unless confinement is alleged to be the result of exclusively intentional conduct, as opposed to the institution's ministerial functions.

Case Information

UID:
2004-034-570
Claimant(s):
EDWIN LAMAGE
Claimant short name:
LAMAGE
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
105805
Motion number(s):
M-69053
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
MICHAEL E. HUDSON
Claimant's attorney:
EDWIN LAMAGE, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
New York State Attorney General
BY: THOMAS G. RAMSAY, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 22, 2004
City:
Buffalo
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this dismissal motion:

1. Claim, verified March 18, 2002, filed March 27, 2002;

2. Answer, verified April 23, 2002, filed April 25, 2002;

3. Defendant's Notice of Motion, dated September 1, 2004, filed September 3, 2004;

4. Affirmation of Thomas G. Ramsay, dated September 1, 2004;

5. Claimant's "Affirmation in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss," dated September 8, 2004, filed September 10, 2004,
6. Defendant's letter memorandum, dated September 20, 2004.

Claimant, an inmate formerly confined at Attica Correctional Facility, filed a claim to recover damages under three separate causes of action: the negligent failure to protect him from assault; wrongful confinement; and the loss of personal property. Defendant has now moved pursuant to CPLR 3211 (a) (2) and (a) (5), and Court of Claims Act § 10 (3) (b) and 12 (2) to dismiss the cause of action for wrongful confinement as untimely. Defendant contends that CPLR 215 establishes a one-year statute of limitations applicable for the tort of false imprisonment, and that Claimant failed to file and serve his claim within that time period. Claimant opposes the motion, asserting that the applicable statute of limitations for a wrongful disciplinary confinement within a correctional facility is two years, where, as here, a timely notice of intention had previously been served.

Ordinarily, a cause of action for false imprisonment is subject to a one-year statute of limitations (CPLR 215 [3]), with accrual measured from the termination of the confinement (see Boose v City of Rochester, 71 AD2d 59, 64-65 [1979]). However, in the context of prison disciplinary proceedings, claims for wrongful confinement to a Special Housing Unit (SHU) or similar setting are generally considered to sound in negligence, and are therefore subject to the two-year statute of limitations set forth in Court of Claims Act § 10 (3) (Ramirez v State of New York, 171 Misc 2d 677 [1997]). An exception has been recognized where the institutional confinement is the result of exclusively intentional conduct, as opposed to the institution's ministerial functions. In those circumstances the one-year statute of limitations for intentional torts would apply (see Cancel v State of New York, Ct Cl, December 18, 2002, Hard, J., Claim No. 106521, Motion No. M-65864 [UID No. 2002-032-019]).[1] In this claim Mr. Lamage has made only general allegations of wrongful confinement, and Defendant has failed to offer any factual support for finding that the SHU disciplinary confinement in issue was the result of an intentional, purposeful effort to wrongfully constrain Claimant, rather than a failure in the operation of the institution. For that reason Defendant has failed to demonstrate that the shorter limitation period would apply.

Based upon the above, it is

ORDERED, that Defendant's motion to dismiss is denied.

September 22, 2004
Buffalo, New York

HON. MICHAEL E. HUDSON
Judge of the Court of Claims


[1] Unpublished decisions and orders are available on the Court of Claims web site at www.nyscourtofclaims.state.ny.us