New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RUMPH v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-015-511, Claim No. 106956


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:
Robert Rumph, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Stephen Maher, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 15, 2005
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Trial of this claim which seeks to recover damages for wrongful confinement was held at Great Meadow Correctional Facility, Comstock, New York on November 9, 2004.

Claimant was the sole witness at trial. The defendant offered and the Court received in evidence certified records of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS). Claimant's testimony and DOCS records established the following facts.

An inmate misbehavior report (IMR) prepared at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Great Meadow) on August 27, 2002 charged claimant with violating institutional rules of conduct 106.10 (refusal to obey a direct order) and 124.16 (failure to comply with mess hall serving and seating policies).[1]
On August 28, 2002 claimant was transferred from Great Meadow to Green Haven Correctional Facility (Green Haven) for a previously scheduled Court of Claims matter. Also on August 28, 2002 Great Meadow transmitted by facsimile a seveb-page report to Green Haven the cover page of which contained the following request: "Please process this ticket - originals are being mailed. Inmate needs to be served."
According to the allegations set forth in the instant claim and the claimant's testimony at trial a disciplinary hearing on the ticket was initiated on September 1, 2002 at Green Haven before Lt. Russett but was postponed without date. Neither the adjourned date nor the reason for the adjournment was made clear at trial by either party. Moreover, no proof was offered as to when claimant was served with a copy of the misbehavior report. The Court assumes that service occurred subsequent to claimant's arrival at Green Haven and prior to the September 1, 2002 hearing and that claimant was confined in keeplock while at Green Haven.

On September 3, 2002 claimant was returned from Green Haven to Great Meadow and placed in keeplock. He testified that he remained in keeplock until September 15, 2002. The certified records of the department, however, indicate that claimant was released from keeplock on September 6, 2002. Claimant offered no documentary evidence contradicting the September 6 release date or otherwise establishing that he remained in keeplock after September 6, 2002 (
see Ferguson v State of New York, Ct Cl, December 18, 2002 [Claim No. 104691, UID #2002-032-503] Hard, J., unreported).[2]

Absolute immunity attaches to the quasi-judicial acts of correction employees done in furtherance of authorized institutional discipline unless such acts are either outside the sphere of privileged actions or are inconsistent with DOCS rules and regulations (
see Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212; Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d 765). Here the scheduling and conducting of the Tier II hearing was controlled by 7 NYCRR § 251-5.1 which provides:
(a) Where an inmate is confined pending a disciplinary hearing or superintendent's hearing, the hearing must be commenced as soon as is reasonably practicable following the inmate's initial confinement pending said disciplinary hearing or superintendent's hearing, but, in no event may it be commenced beyond seven days of said confinement without authorization of the commissioner or his designee.

(b) The disciplinary hearing or superintendent's hearing must be completed within 14 days following the writing of the misbehavior report unless otherwise authorized by the commissioner or his designee. Where a delay is authorized, the record of the hearing should reflect the reasons for any delay or adjournment, and an inmate should ordinarily be made aware of these reasons unless to do so would jeopardize institutional safety or correctional goals.
At trial claimant failed to meet his burden of proof in several respects. He failed to establish when he was served with the misbehavior report and when he was first confined in keeplock status following the issuance of the report. Even if the Court were to afford the claimant the benefit of the doubt and find that his keeplock status began upon his arrival at Green Haven on August 28, 2002 the commencement of the disciplinary hearing on September 1, 2002 would have satisfied the seven-day requirement for commencement set forth in 7 NYCRR 251-5.1 (a).

Moreover, claimant's release from keeplock status on September 6, 2002, demonstrated by the facility's certified records, constituted a timely end of the disciplinary process even without a technical conclusion of the hearing commenced on September 1, 2002 (
see Dure v State of New York, Ct Cl, September 26, 2002 [Claim No. 98804, UID # 2002-031-504] Minarik, J., unreported; Merritt v State of New York, NYLJ, June 13, 1991 at 29, Col. 3).
Under these circumstances the State's actions were privileged and immunity attached. The State is not liable since claimant's confinement was not wrongful and the claim is therefore dismissed. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment for the defendant.

February 15, 2005
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]The former is classified as a Tier I, II or III offense while the latter is classified as a Tier I or II offense. The type of offense determines the nature of the hearing and the punishment available.
[2]Unreported decisions from the Court of Claims are available via the internet at