New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RAMSEY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-037-505, Claim No. 106646


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:
Michael F. Ramsey, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer
New York State Attorney General
By: Geoffrey B. Rossi, Esq.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
May 12, 2006

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

Michael F. Ramsey, the Claimant herein, alleges two separate causes of action against the State in Claim Number 106646, both occurring when Claimant was in the custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) at Elmira Correctional Facility (Elmira). In his first cause of action, Claimant seeks damages for unlawful confinement allegedly occurring when he was moved from his cell in I Block to a more restrictive confinement in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), which deprived him of various privileges and rights. In his second cause of action, Claimant alleges that Defendant’s agents negligently lost certain items of his personal property when he was transferred from SHU at Elmira to Southport Correctional Facility (Southport). Trial of the matter was held at Elmira on March 29, 2006.
Claimant testified that on July 26, 2002, a correction officer filed a misbehavior report charging him with violating several DOCS rules which resulted in his transfer to SHU where he was held for a period of twenty-six days without a disciplinary hearing. It is his position that this restrictive confinement with the loss of privileges constitutes punishment without due process in violation of DOCS rules.
However, on cross-examination, Claimant admitted that he was previously convicted of other disciplinary charges on July 24, 2002, and sentenced to one hundred eighty days in SHU. Thus, Defendant correctly argues that Claimant would have been confined to SHU during the relevant time period regardless of the disposition of the new misbehavior report.
The actions of prison personnel involving inmate disciplinary matters are generally quasi-judicial and, unless they exceed the scope of their authority or violate applicable rules, are afforded absolute immunity (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212 [1988]; Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d 887 [1999], lv denied 93 NY2d 819 [1999]). Claimant does not allege any impropriety by DOCS in the conduct of the proceedings which resulted in his confinement to SHU for the prior charges, or that the Defendant otherwise acted outside the sphere of privileged actions (Arteaga v State of New York, supra; Holloway v State of New York, 285 AD2d 765 [2001]; cf. Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399 [1986]). Accordingly, their determinations are entitled to immunity and the claim for unlawful confinement must be dismissed.
Within his claim, Claimant also seeks damages for the loss of personal property which allegedly occurred on July 28, 2002, during his transfer into SHU at Elmira and on August 12, 2002, during his transfer to Southport. In its verified Answer, Defendant pleaded with particularity the defense that Claimant failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing the claim as required under Court of Claims Act § 10 (9) thereby depriving the Court of jurisdiction over that part of his claim.
Bailment claims are governed by Court of Claims Act § 10 (9) which provides: “A claim of any inmate in the custody of the department of correctional services for recovery of damages for injury to or loss of personal property may not be filed unless and until the inmate has exhausted the personal property claims administrative remedy, established for inmates by the department. Such claim must be filed and served within one hundred twenty days after the date on which the inmate has exhausted such remedy.”
DOCS has established a two-tier system for handling personal property claims consisting of an initial review followed by an appeal (7 NYCRR 1700.3). The burden is on the Claimant to establish the exhaustion of the two step process with respect to this claim. Claimant attached to Exhibit 2 the Inmate Claim Form he filed on July 29, 2002, for his alleged property loss, that was disapproved following the initial review on September 16, 2002 and the appeal determination on October 1, 2002. The administrative remedy referred to above was exhausted on October 1, 2002, after which a claim could be filed. Unfortunately, the claim herein was filed with the Chief Clerk of the Court on September 16, 2002, and served upon the Attorney General of the State of New York on September 5, 2002, prior to the exhaustion of the administrative remedies. Consequently, Claimant may not pursue his claim in this venue due to his failure to comply with Court of Claims Act § 10 (9).
Accordingly, Defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim upon which decision was reserved at the time of trial is hereby granted, and Claim Number 106646 is dismissed in its entirety.

May 12, 2006
Buffalo, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims