New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SAFRAN v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-018-553, Claim Nos. 112556, 112611, Motion No. M-72239


Relief requested on Defendant’s motion is as follows:

Claim No.112556 is DISMISSED.
Motion to dismiss Claim No. 112611 is denied, but the claim is limited to a negligence cause of action.
Requests for an injunction precluding Claimant from filing any further claims without prior Court approval and request for sanctions are denied.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
112556, 112611
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant’s attorney:
Defendant’s attorney:
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: HEATHER R. RUBINSTEIN, ESQUIREAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
December 21, 2006

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Defendant brings a motion to dismiss two claims, Claim Nos. 112556 and 112611.

Defendant also seeks an order enjoining the Claimant from filing any further pro se lawsuits without prior leave of Court. Claimant opposes the motion.

On July 21, 2006, Claimant filed Claim No. 112556. This claim seeks $20 million and “release to terms of commitment for Ind # 2240-2001 and to serve same for remainder of time til: (12-21-06)” “After (res) Attorney Recieves [sic] this I further demand one million dollars a day every day I’m held and denied P.R.S. term of commitment for Ind #2240-2001.” The basis for the claim is that on April 14, 2006, his writ of habeas corpus was denied before the Hon. Peter E. Corning, Cayuga County Supreme Court. He asserts that his writ of habeas corpus should have been granted because he clearly is being held beyond his maximum expiration date of commitment, and he is improperly being held as a parole violator even though he was never on parole. He claims that his maximum sentence was satisfied as of June 25, 2005, yet, his term of commitment has been unlawfully prolonged by the State.

On August 7, 2006, Claimant filed Claim No. 112611. This claim seeks $1 million in damages for allegedly being forced to stay in a cell (A-2-37) at Auburn Correctional Facility which did not have working lights, in violation of Department of Correctional Services Directive 4009, and Claimant’s right against cruel and inhuman treatment. Claimant alleges he filed a grievance on June 30, 2006, but the situation wasn’t corrected until July 15, 2006. Claimant alleges that he has suffered headaches and eye pain as a result, and he has been denied medical care for these problems. Claimant further alleges that he was thereafter moved to a “burned out cell which had a fire earlier in the day and was not clean and full of soot” in retaliation for filing other lawsuits. He filed a grievance regarding this and a correction officer allegedly threatened his life.

It is Defendant’s position that Claim No. 112556 should be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action and based upon collateral estoppel and res judicata, as Claimant made the same claim in other courts. Claim No.112611, Defendant argues, should be dismissed because the allegations sound in intentional infliction of emotional distress and seek pecuniary damages which should be dismissed based upon public policy considerations. The Assistant Attorney General describes, at length, the extensive litigation which Claimant has commenced in this Court, Supreme Court and Federal Court. The motion papers manifest the frustration of having to defend these numerous claims that the Assistant Attorney General categorizes as, frivolous lawsuits. Based on the number of actions Claimant has commenced, Defendant seeks an injunction preventing Claimant from filing any new lawsuits without prior Court approval.
Claim No. 112556

From the documents submitted, Claimant pled to Assault in the second degree (New York State Penal Law § 120.05 [01]), and was sentenced to three years which expired on June 25, 2005, with 18 months of post-release supervision. On June 24, 2005, Claimant refused to agree to the conditions of his sentence and the “Post-Release Supervision Conditions Certificate;” as a result, his parole was immediately violated, and after a Parole Revocation Hearing Claimant was returned to the custody of the Department of Corrections on December 14, 2005 (see Defendant’s Exhibit B). Claimant has unsuccessfully challenged his conviction and parole revocation by several State Supreme Court actions as well as in Federal Court. Specifically, habeas corpus relief has been denied, what appears to be most recently, on April 14, 2006, by Hon. Peter E. Corning, Acting Supreme Court Justice, Cayuga County (see Defendant’s Exhibit B).

The Court of Claims is a Court of limited jurisdiction and cannot grant habeas corpus relief (see Court of Claims Act §§ 8 and 9 and CPLR § 7002 [b]). Nor does this Court have the jurisdiction to review another Court’s denial of a writ of habeas corpus (see Court of Claims Act §§ 8 and 9; Larocco v State of New York, Ct Cl, Decision and Order of Hard, J., dated May 10, 2006, Cl. No. 111720, Motion Nos. M-71214, CM-71306, UID# 2006-032-044). The proper review of a denial of a writ of habeas corpus is an appeal. To the extent Claimant seeks to have this Court review the actions of the Parole Board in extending his confinement, determinations of the Parole Board in deciding “when and under what conditions to release a prisoner are ‘classically judicial’ in nature” and not subject to review by this Court (Payne v State of New York, Ct Cl, Decision and Order of Minarik, J., signed November 6, 2002, Cl. No. None, Motion Nos. M-65015 and M-65637, UID# 2002-031-059, quoting Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212, 217). Claimant also has no cause of action for wrongful confinement. Looking at the claim and giving Claimant the benefit of every possible favorable inference, no cause of action exists (see Albert v Solimon, 252 AD2d 139, 140; Marraccini v Bertelsmann Music Group Inc., 221 AD2d 95, 97). Claimant has failed to allege any facts, short of bare conclusory allegations, that his confinement is not privileged (see Broughton v State of New York, 37 NY2d 451; Lee v State of New York, 124 AD2d 305). The denial of at least two applications for writs of habeas corpus by the Suffolk County Supreme Court pursuant to Article 70 of the CPLR indicates that Claimant’s imprisonment, post his maximum confinement date of June 25, 2005, is privileged. Accordingly, Defendant’s motion is GRANTED and Claim No.112556 is DISMISSED.
Claim Number 112611
In this claim, Claimant has basically alleged that Defendant housed him in cells, which were not in a safe or clean condition, i.e., did not have proper lighting, were dirty, in violation of its own rules and regulations, allegedly causing Claimant physical injury. Such allegations are sufficient to state a cause of action for purposes of a motion to dismiss (compare LoRusso v State of New York, Ct Cl, Decision of Collins, J., signed August 23, 2002, Cl. No. 101972, UID

# 2002-015-567 [cause of action for housing inmate in unsanitary conditions causing him personal injury]).

If Claimant seeks to interpose a cause of action based upon a constitutional tort, that portion of his claim is insufficient. This Court lacks jurisdiction to impose damages for a violation of the Federal Constitution (Zagarella v State of New York, 149 AD2d 503; Ferrick v State of New York, 198 AD2d 822; De LaRosa v State of New York, 173 Misc 2d 1007). Although the Court of Appeals in Brown v State of New York, 89 NY2d 172, determined that violations of certain provisions of the New York State constitution were actionable in this Court as constitutional torts, where there is another remedy available to the claimant, the courts have declined to entertain a constitutional tort cause of action (Remley v State of New York 174 Misc 2d 523, 526; Mayo v State of New York, Ct Cl, Decision of Corbett, J., filed October 29, 1999, Cl. No. 95215; Chmielewsky v State of New York, Ct Cl, Decision of King, J., filed November 17, 1998, Cl. No. 91639). Here, Claimant has a common law cause of action as well as the administrative grievance procedures established by the Department of Correctional Services. Resorting to a constitutional tort remedy is unnecessary.

To the extent that Claimant seeks to interpose a cause of action asserting that he was housed in an unclean cell in retaliation for filing an earlier grievance, no such cause of action may be maintained in this Court. Claimant’s redress was to file a grievance, and if unhappy with the result, to file an Article 78 proceeding (see Moates v State of New York, Ct Cl, Decision and Order of Fitzpatrick, J., signed September 25, 2000, Cl. No. 99875, Motion Nos. M-61714 and M-61565, UID# 2000-018-044; Zulu v State of New York, Ct Cl, Decision and Order of Patti, J., signed May 21, 2001, Cl. Nos. 96973 & 96974, Motion Nos. M-63183 & M-63184, UID# 2001-013-006).

Should his allegations be read to interpose a claim that the State engaged in conduct intentionally designed to cause him emotional distress, such a claim for intentional emotional distress is against public policy and may not stand against the State (Brown v State of New York, 125 AD2d 750, lv dismissed 70 NY2d 747; Wheeler v State of New York, 104 AD2d 496; Jacobs v State of New York, Ct Cl, Decision and Order of Minarik, J., signed May 20, 2004, Cl. No. 107999, Motion No. M-67172, UID # 2004-031-054).

Defendant’s motion to dismiss Claim No. 112611 is denied, but the claim is limited to a negligence cause of action as determined above.

Defendant’s request for an injunction precluding Claimant from filing any further claims without prior Court approval is denied.

Defendant’s request for sanctions against the Claimant pursuant to § 130-1.1 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator is denied.

December 21, 2006
Syracuse, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court has considered the following documents in deciding this motion:

Notice of Motion..................................................................................................1

Affirmation of Heather R. Rubinstein, Esquire, Assistant Attorney

General, in support, with exhibits attached thereto...................................2

Memorandum of Law, in support, dated August 31, 2006....................................3

Unsworn statement received from Claimant, in opposition, dated

September 13, 2006...................................................................................4