New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LAROCCO v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-009-035, Claim No. 110552, Motion Nos. M-69931, M-70004


Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim based upon the immunity provided by Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, was granted. Claimant's motion for poor person status was denied as moot.

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):
M-69931, M-70004
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Defendant's attorney:
Attorney General
BY: G. Lawrence Dillon, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 20, 2005

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Defendant has brought a motion (Motion No. M-70004) seeking an order dismissing the claim for failure to state a cause of action. Claimant has also brought a motion (Motion No. M-69931) seeking an order granting him poor person status. For purposes of judicial economy, both of these motions will be considered herein.

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with these motions:
Pre-Answer Motion to Dismiss Claim (M-70004), Affirmation, with Exhibits 1,2

Claimant's Affirmation in Opposition (M-70004), with Exhibits 3

Notice of Motion (M-69931), Affidavit in Support 4,5

In his claim, claimant seeks damages for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and wrongful confinement, arising out of his placement in the special housing unit (SHU) at Mid-State Correctional Facility. He also seeks damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, mental and emotional cruelty, and violation of his State constitutional rights based upon the same actions taken by facility personnel in placing him in SHU. All of these contentions are based upon claimant's allegations that he was "set up" by other inmates and/or correction officers during his incarceration at Mid-State Correctional Facility.

There is no dispute that on September 16, 2004 during a search of his cubicle, an altered can lid was found inside claimant's locked locker. A misbehavior report was then issued on September 16, 2004, formally charging claimant with possession of a weapon and possession of an altered item. Claimant was found guilty of both violations at a disciplinary hearing, and was required to serve six months in SHU. Claimant pursued the administrative review process, and after a review of the superintendent's hearing, the decision was affirmed on November 15, 2004 (see Defendant's Exhibit C).

As set forth at the outset herein, claimant alleges in his claim that he was "set up", that the "weapon" was not his, and that it must have been "planted" in his locker. Claimant alleges that he was therefore maliciously prosecuted for the alleged violations, and wrongfully confined following the administrative hearing. He also contends that various State constitutional rights were violated, in that correction officers and officials failed to properly investigate his contention that he was "set up".

Defendant now moves to dismiss this claim, arguing that the claim has failed to set forth a cause of action upon which relief can be granted by this Court.

In a motion to dismiss a claim, the defendant is held to have conceded the truth of every fact alleged by the claimant. Determination of the motion, therefore, does not rest upon resolution of the ultimate facts, but rather on whether the facts asserted adequately set forth a viable cause of action (Stukuls v State of New York, 42 NY2d 272).

In this matter, 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, relying upon Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212. As set forth by the Court of Appeals in Arteaga, the actions of prison personnel in inmate disciplinary matters are considered quasi-judicial and are therefore afforded absolute immunity to the decisions made therein, unless the officials exceed the scope of their authority, or violate applicable rules.

In this particular matter, claimant does not allege that the defendant violated any of its own rules and regulations in conducting the hearing which resulted in claimant's confinement to SHU, or that the defendant exceeded the scope of its authority in conducting such proceeding. Rather, this claim is based upon allegations that claimant was "set up" at the time the misbehavior report was initially issued. This is an issue that should have been raised by claimant, and presumably was raised, at his disciplinary proceeding. However, this contention provides no legal basis for this Court to in effect overturn the determination made by the hearing officer, which must be afforded absolute immunity.

As a result, claimant's claim for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and wrongful confinement, as well as his other causes of action arising from the same set of circumstances, must be dismissed pursuant to Arteaga.

Based upon the determination made herein to dismiss the claim, claimant's motion seeking poor person relief has been rendered moot.

Accordingly, based upon the foregoing, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-70004 is hereby GRANTED; and it is further

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-69931 is hereby DENIED as moot; and it is further

ORDERED, that Claim No. 110552 is hereby DISMISSED.

July 20, 2005
Syracuse, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims