New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

STEVENSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-031-506, Claim No. 108660


Claimant failed to demonstrate that State was, or should have been aware of his medical condition on date of incident. Defendant’s failure to make special accommodation during “lock down cell search” was neither negligent nor intentional tort. Claim dismissed

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:
New York State Attorney General
BY: HEATHER R. RUBINSTEIN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
March 31, 2006

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Claimant, Anthony D. Stevenson, filed Claim No. 108660 on December 15, 2003, alleging he was the victim of negligence and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. He alleges that on the morning of June 4, 2002, he awoke to find correction officers at his cell door. The officers indicated that the facility was on a “lock down” and that they were there to search every cell on Claimant’s company. Claimant requested permission to use the bathroom in his cell prior to commencement of the search but his request was refused. Claimant then explained to the officers conducting the search that he had a medical condition that caused him to urinate frequently. He testified that the officers made no accommodation for his condition and made him wait outside of his cell in line with other inmates for 20 to 30 minutes while his cell was searched.
Despite continued protests and requests from Claimant to use the bathroom, the officers refused to permit him to leave the lineup of inmates in the hallway during the search. After approximately 30 minutes, when he could no longer bear it, Claimant urinated on himself while he stood in line in the hallway. He alleges that the officers then ridiculed him in front of the other prisoners. Claimant alleges that the Defendant’s actions constituted cruel and unusual punishment and subjected him to emotional trauma. He seeks $2,000,000.00 to compensate him for his injuries.
Defendant did not present a direct case, but did cross-examine Claimant. During cross-examination, Claimant admitted that the facility was on a lock down and that, for security reasons, inmates are not permitted to use the bathroom facilities during a cell search. He also admitted that, prior to the incident, he had no medical confirmation that he actually had a frequent need to urinate, nor did he possess a bathroom pass issued from the medical department to demonstrate his condition or justify special treatment during the cell search. At the close of Claimant’s case, Defendant moved to dismiss the claim for failure to establish a prima facie case of either negligent or an intentional tort. I now grant that motion.
Although Claimant was given a medical bathroom pass in 2003; he had no such pass at the time of the cell search in question. Claimant conceded that the Department of Correctional Services directives specifically forbid the use of the bathroom facilities during a cell search. He also conceded that just two months prior to the incident, he refused a prostrate exam which may have led to the discovery of his condition by medical personnel and resulted in the issuance of a bathroom pass. As Claimant had no medical proof of his condition on the date of the cell search, the correction officers were justified in directing Claimant to stay in line while his cell was being searched. Nothing in the record before me demonstrates that Defendant knew or should have known of Claimant’s alleged condition on the date of the incident.
Although the Court of Appeals recognized a cause of action for constitutional torts in Brown v State of New York (89 NY2d 172), courts have consistently determined that a constitutional tort remedy will not be implied when adequate alternative remedies exist (Augat v State of New York, 244 AD2d 835, 837, lv denied 91 NY2d 814; Remley v State of New York, 174 Misc 2d 523). In this matter, Mr. Stevenson could have, and apparently did, avail himself of the inmate grievance process. He also could have commenced an Article 78 proceeding (Matter of Hakeem v Wong, 223 AD2d 765, lv denied 88 NY2d 802; 7 NYCRR 701.1 et seq.). While Claimant may not have been satisfied with the results of these alternative remedies, this fact alone does not create jurisdiction over such matters in this Court.
Also, this Court lacks jurisdiction over Federal Constitutional violations (Zagarella v State of New York, 149 AD2d 503, 504). Any such purported cause of action must be dismissed (see Ferrer v State of New York, 172 Misc 2d 1, 5; Gill v State of New York, Ct Cl, January 10, 2001 [Claim Nos. 95917 and 96180], Mignano, J., UID # 2001-029-042). Finally, to the extent that Claimant has alleged the intentional infliction of emotional distress, public policy prohibits an action against the State for such claims (Brown v State of New York, 125 AD2d 750, lv dismissed 70 NY2d 747; Wheeler v State of New York, 104 AD2d 496; DeLesline v State of New York, 91 AD2d 785, lv denied 58 NY2d 610). Accordingly I find that Defendant’s motion must be granted and the claim is dismissed in its entirety.

March 31, 2006
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims