Claimant commenced this action seeking $2,400.00 in damages based upon his loss
of pay, privileges and 15 days confinement in keeplock pursuant to a misbehavior
report issued for claimant's refusal to obey a direct order (106.10). Claimant
alleged that although he was found guilty of the charge at his Tier II hearing,
that determination was reversed on administrative appeal (
defendant's Exhibit A, Section B) by the Deputy Superintendent of
Programs David Carpenter. The reversal indicated that claimant's record was
expunged and all privileges were restored.
A trial was held on November 9, 2004 at Great Meadow Correctional Facility
(Great Meadow). Claimant testified at trial that he went to sick call at Great
Meadow on July 9, 2002 complaining of chest and back pain and was given a slip
for 5 days complete bed rest by the facility's physician's assistant. He
alleged that the next day he showed the slip to a correction officer who,
despite the slip, told claimant he had to go to work in the mess hall. When
claimant refused to go to work the CO telephoned the Commissary Supervisor
(Breault) who wrote up the misbehavior report based upon claimant's refusal to
report for work. Claimant testified that he was kept in keeplock status for 15
days suffering a loss of income, phone and package privileges. He further
testified that the events related above occurred on July 10, 2002, the day after
he received the medical slip authorizing bed rest.
On cross-examination claimant testified that the physician's assistant gave him
only one copy of the bed-rest slip which he retained after showing to the block
officer. He otherwise largely repeated his testimony on direct examination.
Claimant asserted that he spent the entire 15 days in keeplock and that he
seeks compensation for both his confinement and the pain and suffering he
The defendant offered certified records of the facility (Exhibit A) which were
received in evidence. The Exhibit and its various parts were identified by
Sergeant T.L. Vedder, a block relief sergeant at Great Meadow. Claimant did not
object to its receipt.
Sergeant Vedder explained Great Meadow's sick-slip procedure stating that an
inmate is provided with at least two copies of a sick slip, one to be given to
the block officer and one to be retained by the inmate. With reference to
Exhibit A the sergeant testified that claimant was given a sick slip on July 9,
2002 but was not issued a misbehavior report until July 12, 2002, three days
later. He identified Exhibit F as a photocopy of a page from the keeplock
logbook demonstrating claimant was placed on keeplock status on July 12 and
released on July 28. That exhibit was received without objection. The
witness's cross-examination was unremarkable.
The defendant's second and final witness was Correction Officer D. Crossman who
alleged that in July 2002 he was assigned to Company 7, E Block at Great
Meadow. He alleged that he neither recognized nor recalled the claimant. He
explained the procedure to be followed by an inmate who receives a sick slip for
bed rest stating that a correction officer who is informed by an inmate that he
received a slip for bed rest would attempt to obtain a copy of the slip rather
than accepting the inmate's word on the matter.
On cross-examination C.O. Crossman denied that claimant showed him the July 9,
2002 sick- call slip. He further denied any recollection of a grievance filed
against him by the claimant prior to July 2002 and denied facilitating the
issuance of the July 12, 2002 misbehavior report in retaliation for the
The Court reserved decision at the conclusion of the trial.
"Insofar as they relate to inmate discipline, the actions of correctional
facility employees are quasi-judicial in nature and, unless the employees
exceeded the scope of their authority or violated applicable rules and
regulations, the State has absolute immunity for those actions (
see Arteaga v State of New York
, 72 NY2d 212, 214, 218-220)"
(Varela v State of New York
, 283 AD2d 841). "The fact that charges are
ultimately dismissed does not give rise to a cognizable cause of action when
there is no evidence defendant acted inconsistently with its own rules and
regulations" (Smith v State of New York
, Ct Cl., February 14, 2002 [Claim
No. 101961, UID # 2002-030-007] Scuccimarra, J.,
. At trial claimant offered no
proof showing any rule or regulation was violated either in the issuance of the
misbehavior report or in the conduct of the disciplinary hearing. Nor is
claimant's allegation of improper motive by the correction officer who reported
claimant's misbehavior to the commissary supervisor a sufficient basis upon
which to predicate liability against the defendant (see Varela v State
of New York
). It is well settled that "absolute immunity
protects quasi-judicial decisions even when tainted by improper motives or
malice" (Tarter v State of New York
, 68 NY2d 511, 518).
Claimant's placement in keeplock status as a result of the
disciplinary proceeding constituted action within the formidable task of
maintaining order and security within a correctional facility (see
Holloway v State of New York
, 285 AD2d 765) and was therefore a proper
exercise of discretionary authority for which the defendant has absolute
The instant claim is dismissed. The Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment in
accordance with this decision.