New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SERRANO v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-041-512, Claim No. 109756


Synopsis


Claim alleging false arrest and imprisonment due to enforcement of a stale and invalid arrest warrant is dismissed for failure of claimant to prove defendant’s actions or inaction caused the warrant to be issued or to remain open.

Case Information

UID:
2007-041-512
Claimant(s):
ALEXIS SERRANO
Claimant short name:
SERRANO
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
109756
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANK P. MILANO
Claimant’s attorney:
DAVID M. WALENSKY, ESQ.By: Warren Goodman, Esq.
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO
New York State Attorney GeneralBy: Joseph L. Paterno, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
November 1, 2007
City:
Albany
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Trial of this bifurcated claim was held on October 1, 2007.



Prior to the receipt of testimony, defendant moved to dismiss the claim, or, alternatively, to preclude Alexis Serrano (claimant) from testifying, based upon claimant’s failure to appear for a deposition on September 28, 2007. Defendant argued that claimant had previously failed to appear for a deposition pursuant to court discovery orders issued on January 11, 2007 and September 6, 2007.

Claimant’s trial attorney acknowledged that claimant had failed to appear for the September 28th deposition but explained that claimant’s attorney of record had been unable to contact claimant in time to insure claimant’s appearance. Claimant’s attorney also argued that a transcript of claimant’s sworn testimony at a General Municipal Law 50-h hearing regarding issues raised in the claim had been provided to defendant.

The Court notes that defendant did not make any application, prior to trial, for an order compelling claimant to appear for deposition, despite the pendency of the claim for over three (3) years. Also, it does not appear that claimant willfully, or even knowingly, failed to appear for his deposition. In the interests of justice, defendant’s motion to preclude claimant’s testimony is denied.

Claimant testified that on May 26, 2004, at approximately 9:00 p.m., he was arrested at his home by the Mastic Beach, New York police for pushing his ex-wife during an argument. The complaint to the police had been made by claimant’s ex-wife. At trial, claimant candidly acknowledged that he had pushed his ex-wife during the argument.

After his arrest, claimant was held in Shirley, New York overnight and then brought to Riverhead, New York where bail was set at $300. Claimant testified that he remained in jail at Riverhead for 2 days and then was transferred to Yaphank, New York, where he remained in jail for 9 to 10 days. Upon release from Yaphank, after his bail was posted at Riverhead, claimant states that he was jailed at Riker’s Island, New York, for an additional 3 days.

As far as the Court can ascertain from the testimony, the basis of the claim is the confinement of claimant at Riker’s Island after he was released on bail for the Mastic Beach arrest.

Claimant testified that he did not know why he was jailed at Riker’s Island except that someone mentioned an “open warrant.” He suggested that he was brought to Riker’s Island because “they think I’m the person they are looking for.”

In addition to his testimony, claimant attempted to offer into evidence a document which was entitled “Order to Compel DCJS to Correct Rap Sheet of Alexis Serrano NYSID# 6507363H,” which was allegedly issued by a Kings County Supreme Court Justice. The Court sustained the defendant’s objection to the document being admitted into evidence based upon its lack of attestation or certification pursuant to CPLR 4540.

The Court has also reviewed the claim which alleges that defendant is responsible for the “negligence, acts, errors and omissions of its employees and agents.” In particular, claimant alleges that defendant State of New York “staffed the Courts of the City of New York with clerks and support personnel duly employed by the State of New York.” The claim further alleges that the employees acted in violation of the guidelines and procedures of the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services. The claim contends that the “court clerks . . . and court personal (sic) failed to properly void or invalidate the . . . warrant and failed to seal same against claimant, which improperly and illegally caused his . . . false arrest and/or imprisonment in May-June, 2004.”

At trial, claimant offered no admissible proof to support the allegations of the claim and, specifically, provided no evidence that any act or omission of the State of New York caused his arrest or imprisonment, at whatever location for whatever length. Claimant admitted that he was appropriately arrested by the Mastic Beach police based upon the complaint of his ex-wife and he then simply recounted that he spent approximately 15 days in various jails prior to his release.

Claimant offered no admissible proof, beyond a vague statement that someone mentioned an open warrant, that he was arrested and confined pursuant to a warrant or, if he was arrested on the basis of a warrant, that it was invalid and that the State of New York knew, or should have known, that it was invalid. Claimant presented no evidence that the defendant, through its Division of Criminal Justice Services, caused an invalid warrant to be issued or remain open.

Defendant’s motion for dismissal is granted. The claim is dismissed.

All motions not previously decided are hereby denied.

Let judgment be entered accordingly.


November 1, 2007
Albany, New York

HON. FRANK P. MILANO
Judge of the Court of Claims