New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PETTUS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-015-024, Claim No. 113867, Motion Nos. M-74272, CM-74373


Synopsis


Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment was granted as claim failed to set forth facts giving rise to a cause of action for violation of the NYS Constitution and no cause of action against the State based upon a violation of the Federal Constitution was cognizable against the State in the Court of Claims. Additionally, no cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress lies against the State.

Case Information

UID:
2008-015-024
Claimant(s):
JAMES PETTUS
Claimant short name:
PETTUS
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
113867
Motion number(s):
M-74272
Cross-motion number(s):
CM-74373
Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant’s attorney:
James Pettus, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General
By: Roberto Barbosa, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
March 24, 2008
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se, moves for summary judgment (M-74272) and the defendant cross-moves (CM-74373) for summary judgment dismissing the claim. For the reasons which follow, the defendant’s cross-motion is granted and the claimant’s motion is denied as moot. The claim alleges the following:
"PLAINTIFF WHO IS [NON-VIOLENT] AND SUFFERS SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS AND PLACED IN THE 'CARE', 'CUSTODY' AND 'CONTROL' OF [D.O.C.] WHICH IS A STATE GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY. THE OFFICIALS [WILLFULLY] [PURPOSEFULLY] WITH [INTENT] DENIES PLAINTIFF AND OTHER [BLACK] INMATES THERE [SIC] PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS PROTECTED UNDER THE 14TH AMENDMENT. PLACING CLAIMANT INTO [SHU] AND KEEP-LOCKED STATUS, CAUSING [INJURY] [HARM] BOTH PHYSICALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY. BY EXTENDED KEEP-LOCKED TIME OR PLACEMENT INTO [SHU] WITHOUT COMMITTING SERIOUS PRISON INFRACTIONS. SEE TITLE 7 NYCRR 280.2[B].

THIS [POLICY] AND [CUSTOM] IS ENFORCED AS A [LAW] WHEN IN FACT [VOLATIVE] (SIC) OF ESTABLISHED LAW AND DUE PROCESS. THIS [PRACTICE] IS SO SEVERE AND WIDESPREAD CAUSING CLAIMANT AND OTHER BLACK INMATES [PSYCHOLOGICAL] TORMENT AND TORTURE, WHICH IS ON-GOING AND CURRENT. DENYING CLAIMANT AND OTHER BLACK INMATES [DUE PROCESS] AND [EQUAL PROTECTION] OF [STATE] LAW [THEREBY] VOLATIVE (SIC) OF A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT PROTECTED UNDER THE 14TH AMENDMENT OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, WHICH [GOVERNS] ALL FIFTY (50) STATES."
As the defendant’s cross-motion is dispositive of this claim, it will be addressed first. According the claimant the benefit of every favorable inference the only legal theories of recovery discernable from the claim are based upon violations of the New York and United States Constitutions. In this regard the claimant appears to contend that the defendant failed to accord him procedural due process in the conduct of prison disciplinary proceedings. This conduct is also alleged to constitute a discriminatory practice in violation of the equal protection clause of the State and Federal Constitution.

It is well-settled that a cause of action for a violation of the State Constitution may give rise to a tort cause of action where it is necessary to ensure the full realization of the claimant’s constitutional rights (Brown v State of New York, 89 NY2d 172 (1996); Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d 78, 83 [2001]. The right is a narrow one, however, and may not be invoked where the claimant has an alternate “avenue of redress” (Martinez v City of Schenectady, 97 NY2d at 83 ; Waxter v State of New York, 33 AD3d 1180 [2006]; Bullard v State of New York, 307 AD2d 676 [2003]). Here, the claimant commenced two article 78 proceedings challenging disciplinary determinations rendered against him, albeit without success (see defendant’s Exhibits A and B). The availability of this alternate avenue of redress renders recognition of a constitutional tort claim unnecessary to effectuate the purpose of the State constitutional protections and ensure full realization of the claimant's rights (see Rodriguez v State of New York, Ct Cl, August 9, 2007, Claim No. 110305, Motion No. M-73379 [UID #2007-015-222], Collins, J. [article 78 proceeding was adequate alternative remedy to constitutional tort claim in the Court of Claims]); Ahlers v State of New York, Ct Cl, June 27, 2000 [Claim No. 96505, UID # 2000-014-108] Nadel, J., [article 78 proceeding was adequate alternative remedy to constitutional tort claim in the Court of Claims]; Rossi v State of New York, Ct Cl, July 9, 2001 [Claim No. 104004, Motion No. M-63481 UID # 2001-019-542], Lebous, J [article 78 proceeding was adequate alternative remedy to constitutional tort claim]). To the extent the claim is predicated on a violation of the New York State Constitution it must therefore be dismissed.

To the extent the claim alleges a violation of the claimant’s federal constitutional rights, it must be dismissed as no claim for a violation of the claimant’s federal constitutional rights is cognizable against the State in the Court of Claims (Brown v State of New York, 89 NY2d at 184-185; see also Monell v New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436 US 658; Matter of Gable Transp., Inc. v State of New York, 29 AD3d 1125 [2006]; Welch v State of New York, 286 AD2d 496 [2001]).

Lastly, to the extent a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress can be inferred from the claim, it is settled that “no claim lies against the State for intentional infliction of emotional distress” (Lynn v State of New York, 33 AD3d 673, 675 [2006]; see also Matter of Lynch v State of New York, 2 AD3d 1002 [2003]).

Based on the foregoing the defendant’s cross-motion for summary judgment dismissing the claim is granted, and the claim is dismissed. Claimant’s motion for summary judgment is denied as moot.



March 24, 2008
Saratoga Springs, New York

HON. FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Judge of the Court of Claims


The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated October 15, 2007;
  2. Affidavit/Affirmation of James Pettus sworn to October 16, 2007 with exhibits;
  3. Affirmation of Roberto Barbosa dated December 5, 2007 with exhibit;
  4. Reply of James Pettus filed December 12, 2007;
  5. Notice of cross-motion dated December 19, 2007;
  6. Affirmation of Roberto Barbosa dated December 19, 2007 with exhibits.