Edward Brown alleges in his claim that defendant’s agents wrongfully
confined him while he was an inmate at Green Haven Correctional Facility
(hereafter Green Haven) in 2004. Trial of the matter was held on April 27,
2007. Claimant testified that “on September 9,
he received a misbehavior report
from Officer Santelli. The charges resulted from his alleged failure to respond
to a direct order given to return to his housing block when a “red
dot” alarm signaling a security reason for such return sounded.
He said that due to the issuance of the misbehavior report and his subsequent
confinement, he was unable to attend mandated parenting classes required by the
Family Court in order for him to gain visitation with his daughter. After a
disciplinary hearing, he was “given six (6) months keeplock, two (2)
months deferred for one hundred eighty (180) days.”
On November 27, 2004, Brown said, “Albany reversed the ticket.” At
that point, he had already “done the time.” Once released, he was
placed on the waiting list for the parenting program, but there was no room. As
long as he was not in the program, he could not obtain visitation with his
In terms of damages, he said he was seeking same for the “60 days [he]
was keeplocked, for being removed from the program and for back pay for the
On cross-examination, Mr. Brown confirmed that he was found guilty of all the
charges after a hearing, and also confirmed that he had been confined in
pre-hearing detention, and then confined after the disposition. Most
significantly, he confirmed that he was released in accordance with the
disposition time frame, and that by the time the decision was reversed on
appeal, the keeplock time had ended, as had all confinement.
No other witnesses testified and no other evidence was submitted.
To establish a prima facie case of wrongful confinement, a
“species” of the tort of false imprisonment, [Gittens v State of
New York, 132 Misc 2d 399, 407 (Ct Cl 1986)], 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), cert
denied sub nom. Schanbarger v Kellogg, 423 US 929 (1975).
The quasi-judicial acts of correction 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, supra.
From the facts presented it would appear that correction officers acted within
the bounds of New York State Department of Correction rules and regulations.
From the written claim, it can be discerned that the misbehavior report was
properly served upon Claimant - alleging facility rule violations - and that a
disciplinary hearing concerning the charges was timely commenced and concluded
within seven (7) days of confinement. See generally 7 NYCRR § 251-3;
The disposition entered after a timely concluded hearing is just the type of
quasi-judicial determination shielded by the immunity principles of Arteaga v
State of New York, supra. Because of the appeal process, the
determination was reversed. There has been no showing that Claimant was kept
confined beyond the reversal of the final disposition, or that he lost any
privileges beyond the initial period imposed, indeed, he had already been
released at the time the appeal was decided according to his testimony. While it
is unfortunate that claimant may have lost the opportunity to visit with his
daughter, no alleged misfeasance on the part of DOCS is established.
A determination that he could not have visitation made by a Court in a
proceeding unrelated to this one, does not create a duty whose breach is
compensable in damages, and is entitled to judicial immunity. Judicial immunity
bars any action against Judges of the State for their judicial acts, and the
State is not liable for a judicial officer’s alleged errors. Unless the
judicial acts were performed without any jurisdiction over the subject matter,
judicial immunity applies. Sassower v Finnerty
, 96 AD2d 585, 586 (2d
, lv dismissed
61 NY2d 756
(1984); See also Murray v Brancato
, 290 NY 52 (1943).
Based on the trial testimony and documentary evidence herein, Claimant has
failed to establish a prima facie case of wrongful confinement.
Claim Number 110251 is hereby dismissed in its entirety.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.