New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PATTERSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-016-025, Claim No. 105716


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):

Alan C. Marin
Claimant’s attorney:
Bernard Patterson, Pro se
Defendant’s attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Michael J. Danaher, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
March 23, 2005
New York

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

This decision follows the trial of the claim of Bernard Patterson, which was held at Sullivan Correctional Facility. Mr. Patterson alleges that because of defendant’s negligence, his typewriter was damaged in transit between correctional facilities. He also alleges that he was wrongfully placed in keeplock status.
Patterson testified that he was transferred to Sullivan Correctional Facility in December of 2001, and when he received his property on December 22nd, he discovered that his typewriter was broken. He maintained that the typewriter had not been properly packed pursuant to Department of Correctional Services Directive 4917, which essentially provides that typewriters must be packed in the proper case or securely packed in a box to prevent damage.
However, Patterson conceded that he was not present either when his property was packed or unpacked.
As to the damage, he explained that although the power would come on, when he tried to type, the memory-based typewriter would “spit out” different characters than those that were typed. Claimant’s exhibit 5 is a March 6, 2002 memorandum from the Deputy Superintendent of Administration to claimant, relating to Patterson’s internal claim, which states that “[y]our claim has been investigated and your typewriter was found to be broken.”
Claimant’s exhibit 1 is a receipt indicating that the typewriter was shipped to him on May 19, 1999 and the cost was $159.99.
As to the portion of his claim relating to keeplock, Patterson testified that on February 13, 2002, he “confronted” the Sullivan “Transitional Services Coordinator” and announced that he would not go to the “Transitional Services I” group program because he had already taken that course prior to his transfer. Three days later, on February 15th, claimant was told to report to the disciplinary area where he was given a misbehavior report and then put in keeplock status. According to claimant, on February 19th, he went to a disciplinary hearing where he was told he could not be confined for refusing to attend a program that had not yet started, and he was then released from keeplock status.
Lieutenant J. Haynal testified that as “Disciplinary Lieutenant” at Sullivan, he conducted Patterson’s February 19, 2002 disciplinary hearing. According to Haynal, claimant had been charged with “not accepting” a program and was found not guilty because the program had not yet begun. According to Haynal, claimant should actually have been charged with “refusing a direct order,” and it was because of the “incorrect” charge that he was found not guilty.
* * *
As to Patterson’s typewriter, 7 NYCRR §1700.7(b) provides that:
When an inmate’s property was last in the control of the department or its agents, and the department fails without good explanation to deliver it . . . to the inmate . . . in the same condition as when received by the department, then there is a reubuttable presumption that the department is negligently responsible for the loss.

Defendant, who presented no witnesses on this point, did not dispute that Patterson’s typewriter was last in its control or that it was found to be broken after it was returned to claimant. Nor did defendant provide any explanation as to the breakage, or rebut the presumption of its negligence. Accordingly, defendant is responsible for the damage to Patterson’s typewriter. As set forth above, the typewriter was sent to Patterson on May 19, 1999 at the cost of $159.99 and was returned to him broken on December 22, 2001. I find that Patterson was damaged in the amount of $100.
As to Patterson’s keeplock time, “[c]orrections personnel are entitled to absolute immunity for those ‘discretionary decisions in furtherance of general policies and purposes where the exercise of reasoned judgment can produce different acceptable results.’ ” Minieri v State of New York, 204 AD2d 982, 613 NYS2d 510, 511 (4th Dept 1994), citing Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 532 NYS2d 57 (1988).
In addition, “[d]isciplinary proceedings in correctional facilities that are conducted consistent with the applicable rules and regulations are covered with a blanket of immunity . . . The fact that claimant was ultimately found not guilty of the charge does not give rise to a viable claim.” Brown v State of New York, Ct Cl filed 10/27/98, Bell, J. (unreported, claim nos. 94875 and 94876).
No evidence was introduced to suggest that defendant violated any rules or regulations with regard to claimant’s disciplinary hearing and thus he has no viable claim for his time in keeplock status.
Accordingly, claimant is awarded the sum of $100 with the appropriate statutory interest from December 22, 2001.
A filing fee paid by claimant may be recovered pursuant to subdivision two of §11-a of the Court of Claims Act.

March 23, 2005
New York, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

  1. [1]See claimant’s exhibit 2.
  2. [2]With regard to Patterson’s internal claim, defendant’s fourth affirmative defense is that claimant failed to exhaust his administrative remedy pursuant to §10.9 of the Court of Claims Act. However, defendant failed to raise such issue either by motion or at trial. In addition, at trial, claimant essentially testified that he pursued his internal claim until he was told he should file a claim in the Court of Claims.
  3. [3]Neither in his claim, testimony or exhibits did claimant state when he last had the typewriter in his possession, when it was packed or unpacked or when he was transferred (other than to say that the transfer occurred some time in December of 2001). The only fixed date provided was the December 22, 2001 date on which the typewriter was returned to him.