New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ROSSI v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK , #2005-030-512, Claim No. 106687, Motion No. M-69682


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:
Defendant's attorney:
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 16, 2005
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers numbered 1 to 4 were read and considered on Claimant's motion to compel discovery of documents brought pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules §3124, and for adjournment of the trial now scheduled for February 25, 2005:
1,2 Notice of Motion; Affidavit in Support of the Motion to Compel Discovery of Documents by Randolph Rossi, Claimant and attached exhibits

3,4 Filed Papers: Claim, Answer[1]

No Opposition Filed

After carefully considering the papers submitted and the applicable law the motion is disposed of as follows:

In his Claim, Claimant alleges that he was wrongfully confined in a special housing unit (SHU) while he was an inmate at Green Haven Correctional Facility (hereafter Green Haven) commencing on or about December 24, 1999. It is unclear from the claim when he was released, but it appears Claimant pursued administrative remedies, ultimately resulting in the reversal and expungement of the finding of guilt on May 11, 2001. Prior to that administrative determination, Claimant had commenced a special proceeding, pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, challenging the superintendent's initial modification of the penalty imposed to nine (9) months SHU confinement - with six (6) months suspended - and loss of good time. Claimant asserts he lost all privileges for a period of 109 days. He maintains that had he not filed the Article 78 proceeding, the superintendent would not have reversed and expunged his decision.

In its Answer, the Defendant indicates it lacks information sufficient to form a belief with respect to the allegations contained in paragraphs 3 through 6 of the Claim, and denies the allegations contained in paragraph 7 through 16, in conformance with the general pleading requirements of Civil Practice Law and Rules §3018(a). By way of defenses, Defendant asserts Claimant's own culpable conduct, including contributory negligence and assumption of risk as required, and claim preclusion and issue preclusion.

It bears repeating that to establish a prima facie case of wrongful confinement, a "species" of the tort of false imprisonment, [Gittens, supra., at 407], a claimant must show ". . . (1) the defendant intended to confine him, (2) the . . . [claimant] was conscious of the confinement, (3) the . . . [claimant] did not consent to the confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged . . . " Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451, 456 (1975). Generally, in the prison setting, a claim of wrongful confinement brought in the Court of Claims is very limited. Liability is essentially established under only two circumstances: (1) if the inmate is confined beyond the term provided for in the disciplinary disposition; (2) the disciplinary disposition itself is flawed because of a failure to follow regulations.

Thus, the quasi-judicial acts of correctional employees taken in furtherance of authorized disciplinary measures are entitled to absolute immunity. Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 219-220 (1988). If officers act inconsistently with their own rules and regulations, or otherwise act outside the sphere of privileged actions, liability may attach. 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. Arteaga v State of New York, supra; Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d 765 (3d Dept 2001); cf.: Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399 (Ct Cl 1986).

Civil Practice Law and Rules §3101, setting forth the scope of disclosure in a civil case and applicable in the Court of Claims [See Court of Claims Act §9(9)], provides in pertinent part that "[t]here shall be full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of any action, regardless of the burden of proof . . . "

When a party fails to respond in some fashion to a demand, the other party may make a motion to compel such as this one. Civil Practice Law and Rules §§3124, 3126. The party making the motion should append a copy of the demand at issue. Notably, disclosure demands - which are by nature documents served on another party - are required to be filed with the Chief Clerk of the Court of Claims. See 22 NYCRR §206.5(c).

The Assistant Attorney General has not responded to the motion, but did respond[2] to the discovery request.

As noted earlier, discovery of matter that is material and necessary is liberally allowed. Here, however, it is unclear how any of the information sought would serve to establish the limited claim for wrongful confinement justiciable in this Court.

In his Affidavit in Support of the present motion Claimant indicates that he submitted a discovery request to the Assistant Attorney General on October 22, 2004, to which the Defendant responded. The response included copies of documents, as well as responses indicating that the information requested was either irrelevant or asked for copies of "law." From what this Court can articulate from the Claimant's requests, it appears they have been responded to in full, thus there is no reason to seek an Order compelling such response. Civil Practice Law and Rules §3124.

Claimant argues that the response to numbered requests 1 through 6 - wherein the Defendant indicates Claimant is "asking for law" and therefore defines the request as improper - is "disingenuous, since claimant's claim is premised upon the violation of rules, regulations, and policies of corrections, and Donald Selsky's assertions made in the deposition on written questions[3] necessitated production of these documents."[¶5 Affidavit in Support by Randolph Rossi, Claimant]. Claimant also argues that providing documents from "Great Meadow . . . [is] non-responsive to the discovery request since Great Meadow was not a party to this action and therefore, could not possibly possess the requested documents . . . " [¶6, Ibid]. These two arguments are incorrect. The Defendant is not required to furnish legal materials to Claimant, including copies of published statutes and regulations[4] available to the public. Additionally, no particular correctional facility is a party to this claim. It is the State of New York that is sued, and the State of New York that responds to document requests from whatever source.

In view of the foregoing, Claimant's motion [M-69682] for further discovery and for adjournment of the trial scheduled for February 25, 2005 is hereby DENIED in all respects.

February 16, 2005
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] See also Decision and Order with respect to Claimant's prior motion for discovery, and underlying papers, Rossi v State of New York, Claim No. 106687, Motion No. M-68435, UID# 2004-030-561 (Scuccimarra, J., August 16, 2004).
[2] A Response To "Notice of Discovery" by the Assistant Attorney General was filed as required in the Office of the Chief Clerk of the Court of Claims on December 23, 2004.
[3] Another document required to be filed with the Office of the Chief Clerk of the Court of Claims. 22 NYCRR §206.5(c).
[4] Notably, in response to a prior discovery demand served by Claimant, presumably, sometime in calendar year 2003, the Defendant furnished copies of internal regulations and directives, as well as what appears to be the Claimant's disciplinary packet that would be pertinent to this claim. See Response to ‘Notice of Discovery and Documents Production' filed December 22, 2003, and served on Claimant on December 18, 2003.