Claimant's motion for an order striking the defendant's answer and for summary
judgment is denied and the claim is dismissed by the court sua sponte as
barred by the doctrine of absolute immunity. The claim alleges that on February
7, 2004 claimant was assaulted by another inmate in the general population yard
at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Comstock, New York). In the aftermath of
the assault claimant was charged both with striking a correction officer and
attempting to strike an officer. The claim seeks damages for various
irregularities which occurred during claimant's Tier III hearing on the charges
including allegations that a correction officer offered false testimony,
witnesses did not appear and that claimant was denied meaningful assistance
during the hearing.
After he was found guilty at the conclusion of the hearing and was sentenced to
180 days in the SHU and 6 months loss of good time claimant contacted the
facility's superintendent to request a new hearing. His request was denied and
claimant appealed to Mr. Donald Selsky, Director of the
Special Housing/Inmate Disciplinary
Program. Mr. Selsky's response is related in an undated memorandum addressed to
the claimant which reads as follows: "On behalf of the Commissioner, please be
advised that your Superintendent's Hearing of February 25, 2004, has been
reviewed and administratively reversed on September 20, 2004" (Exhibit
. In a separate memo to Attica Correctional
Facility Superintendent James T. Conway dated September 20, 2004, Director
Selsky noted that the hearing reversal occurred "due to incomplete record caused
by tape equipment malfunction" (Exhibit C).
In addition to his administrative appeal claimant commenced an article 78
proceeding in Supreme Court, Albany County (Index # 3146-04). That proceeding
was dismissed by letter decision and order of Hon. Vincent G. Bradley, J.S.C.
dated October 26, 2004 which noted the administrative reversal of claimant's
conviction and that claimant had been "granted . . . all the relief to which he
Being dissatisfied with both the result of his administrative appeal and his
article 78 proceeding, claimant commenced the instant action to recover damages
for 175 days of SHU confinement along with alleged emotional distress and loss
of his job and mail privilege. Claimant now moves for an order striking the
defendant's answer and granting him summary judgment. Defendant opposed the
motion but did not cross-move for summary judgment.
For the reasons which follow the court having searched the record and having
determined that the claim is barred by the doctrine of absolute immunity grants
summary judgment to the non-moving defendant pursuant to CPLR 3212 (b )
(see Abramovitz v Paragon Sporting Goods Co., 202 AD2d 206;
Addison v Addison, 192 AD2d 334).
"It is well settled that actions of correctional facility employees with
respect to inmate discipline matters are quasi-judicial in nature and, unless
the employees exceed the scope of their authority or violate the governing
statutes and regulations, the State has absolute immunity for those actions
(see, Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 214, 218-220)"
(Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d 765, 766). The filing by the
unnamed correction officer of the inmate misbehavior reports charging the
claimant with assault and attempted assault clearly falls within "the
'formidable tasks' of maintaining order and security in correctional facilities
and protecting the safety of inmates and employees" (Arteaga v State of New
York, supra at 217) and no proof was offered tending to show that the
hearing officer violated any rules or regulations in conducting the hearing.
Absent such proof, imposition of the penalty confining the claimant to SHU and
depriving him of work and mail privileges was authorized and within the scope of
the full immunity accorded quasi- judicial discretionary determinations
(Holloway v State of New York, supra at 766; Arteaga v State of
New York, supra at 220; Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d
887, lv denied 93 NY2d 819).
As a result, the State may not be found liable and a sua sponte grant of
summary judgment is appropriate (Topal v State of New York, 263 AD2d
The instant claim is, accordingly, dismissed.