Kenneth Cunningham alleges in his claim that defendant’s agents wrongfully
confined him while he was an inmate at Green Haven Correctional Facility. Trial
of the matter was held on May 11, 2007.
In his filed claim, Mr. Cunningham alleges that he was wrongfully confined from
May 4, 2004 to May 10, 2004; again on May 11, 2004 to May 12, 2004; and finally
on May 15, 2004, calling this a total of eight (8) days overall. [Claim Number
109581, ¶¶ 2, 5-8]. He filed a grievance relative to this confinement
on May 18, 2004. [Exhibit 1].
Mr. Cunningham testified that on May 4, 2004 he went to the program committee
director, to bring to his attention that claimant had the status of
“medical idle.” 
This status, he
explained, meant that he was not required to “do programs.” The
director then “superceded” this designation, and placed claimant in
“limited idle status,” which removed him from “medical
idle” status, and then had claimant sign a “program refusal
form.” When claimant then went back to his cell, he “found out that
[he] was keeplocked.” Claimant tried to explain to the officers on the
block that he should not be keeplocked, but rather his status as “limited
idle” meant that he had refused a program - not that there was a
disciplinary “ticket issued” - and that he should be allowed to go
to all three meals per day, to mandatory call-outs, to the commissary, and to
the recreation yard for one (1) hour in the afternoon. Block officers then used
abusive and profane language, he alleged, in violation of facility regulations,
and refused to release him.
On cross-examination claimant agreed that on May 4, 2004 he refused program
participation and was placed on “limited idle” status as he
described it. Mr. Cunningham said he was not familiar with the term
“limited privilege” status used by the assistant attorney general,
repeating again that he knew the status as “limited idle.” This
“limited privilege” status is described in a policy and procedure
memorandum from Green Haven. [Exhibit A]. Mr. Cunningham confirmed that when in
the status he had, regular showers are taken on the company, that there are no
call-outs except for medical reasons, and access to the law library is limited
to the same time frames as keeplock inmates. He agreed that he was allowed one
(1) hour recreation time, but would not acknowledge that this was the same
privilege afforded those in keeplock, saying “they go in the morning, I
went in the afternoon.”
The policy concerning limited privilege status also provides that the
restrictions on commissary privileges are the same as for those in keeplock.
[Exhibit A]. After describing instances where he received greater freedoms than
those provided for in the policy concerning the limited privilege status
[see Exhibit A], such as being allowed to proceed to medical call-outs
and to his counselor unescorted, going to three meals in the mess hall rather
than eating in his cell, and showers on the company, Mr. Cunningham would not
agree that he was indeed given greater freedom than his status afforded, instead
dwelling on the terminology of “keeplock” used by the block officers
to categorize the inmates.
After reviewing the policy and procedure memorandum [see Exhibit A]
concerning limited privilege inmates, he acknowledged that the treatment was
essentially the same as that afforded keeplock inmates. He repeated: “My
complaint is that I was told I was confined on keeplock status. A sergeant came
along to explain the difference between the statuses to the housing
officers.” Claimant was insistent that this “red tagging” him
as keeplocked caused him harm.
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
From the limited facts presented it would appear that the facility acted within
the bounds of New York State Department of Correctional Services rules and
regulations, in placing claimant in the housing facility he was placed in, and
in limiting his privileges as described. Indeed, it appears that claimant was
afforded greater freedom than the regulations required for a limited privilege
inmate. The gravamen of Mr. Cunningham’s complaint appears to be
terminology alone: he did not like being linked with inmates who had received
disciplinary violations. This does not, however, establish a cause of action for
wrongful confinement. His housing placement within the prison facility is
Accordingly, and after carefully considering the evidence presented, including
the testimony of Claimant and observing his demeanor as he did so, the Court
finds claimant has failed to establish a prima facie case, and Claim
number 109581 is in all respects dismissed.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.