|Claimant short name:||MALIK|
|Footnote (claimant name) :|
|Defendant(s):||THE STATE OF NEW YORK|
|Footnote (defendant name) :|
|Judge:||W. BROOKS DeBOW|
|Claimant's attorney:||ABDUL-JABBOR MALIK, Pro se|
|Defendant's attorney:||ANDREW M. CUOMO, Attorney General of the State of
By: Michael Rizzo, Assistant Attorney General
|Third-party defendant's attorney:|
|Signature date:||April 14, 2008|
|See also (multicaptioned case)|
An interlocutory judgment on liability has been entered in accordance with this Court's decision finding defendant liable for six days of wrongful confinement in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) (see Malik v State of New York, UID # 2007-038-557, Claim No. 113091, Motion Nos. M-72896, M-72975 and CM-73265, DeBow, J. [Sep. 10, 2007]). Following a decision granting claimant's motion for a subpoena compelling the appearance of a witness and denying claimant's motion for summary judgment on the issue of damages (Malik v State of New York, Claim No. 113091, Motion No. 74308, DeBow, J., filed Jan. 24, 2008), the trial of damages was conducted by videoconference on February 13, 2008, with the parties appearing at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York and the Court sitting in Saratoga Springs, New York. Claimant testified at the trial, as did Carrie Gonyea, a psychologist employed by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH). Defendant called no witnesses. After listening to the witnesses testify and observing their demeanor as they did so, and upon consideration of that evidence and all of the other evidence received at trial and the applicable law, the Court makes the following findings and conclusions regarding the damages to be awarded to claimant.
Claimant was scheduled to be released from a Special Housing Unit (SHU) at Upstate Correctional Facility (CF) on November 24, 2006, after serving a period of three hundred days in SHU due to disciplinary infractions ("SHU penalty"). Despite that release date, claimant's confinement in the SHU continued until November 30, 2006. At the damages trial, claimant testified that when he discovered that he would not be released on November 24, 2006, he requested to speak to Carrie Gonyea, an OMH psychologist who had seen claimant previously in August 2006. Claimant spoke to Gonyea on November 24 about his continued detention and his emotional response to not being released upon the expiration of his SHU penalty. Gonyea documented her interview with claimant in Claimant's Exhibit 1, which was received into evidence at the damages trial.
According to claimant, he experienced anxiety, mental anguish, tension, distress, oppression, frustration and humiliation at being held in SHU during the six days of wrongful confinement in the SHU. While claimant had no complaints about the size of his cell, he was bothered by the constant noise emanating from a fan in the ceiling, as well as the lights that were on in his cell for a certain number of hours during the day. Claimant's wrongful confinement rendered him unable to attend Muslim services on November 24 and he felt humiliated by his inability to practice his religion and to associate or socialize with fellow Muslims. Claimant was allowed to possess only books while in his SHU cell, and he complained that he was not able to enjoy the kinds of property and "creature comforts"(1) that he would be able to possess had he not been in SHU. Claimant feared that he was being persecuted by correction officers, and that they would not let him out of SHU.
The Court finds that claimant has suffered damages as the result of his unlawful confinement past the expiration of his SHU penalty. In support of his argument that he should be awarded a minimum of $200 per day for each day of his unlawful confinement, claimant cites United States ex rel. Larkins v Oswald, 510 F2d 583 (2d Cir. 1975), in which a federal appeals court upheld a jury verdict of $1,000 in favor of a prisoner in a New York State prison who had been improperly placed in solitary confinement for five days. Claimant's reliance on Larkins is unavailing, however, as the inmate in that case was subjected to a humiliating strip search that included a probe of his rectum, was marched naked to his cell where he waited an hour before he was given clothing, and was confined to his cell for 24 hours a day and was denied out-of-cell recreation time to which he was entitled (id. at 589). As distinguished from Larkins, claimant has not demonstrated that he was subjected to any affirmative or egregious acts that caused humiliation, or that he suffered additional deprivation of liberty beyond his confinement in the SHU. Rather, absent such aggravating factors, the Court finds the appropriate quantum of compensation to be $25.00 per day (see e.g. Towles v State of New York, UID # 2006-036-007, Claim No. 103271, Schweitzer, J., [June 21, 2006]; Perez v State of New York, UID # 2001-028-0005, Claim No. 99839, Sise, J. [Feb. 14, 2001]). Thus, claimant will be awarded the sum of $25.00 per day for each of the six days that he remained in SHU past his release date.
Accordingly, the Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of claimant in the amount of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00).
To the extent that claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act § 11-a (2). Any and all motions not previously ruled upon are hereby DENIED.
Let judgment be entered accordingly.
April 14, 2008
Albany, New York
W. BROOKS DeBOW
Judge of the Court of Claims
1. Quotations are to the Court's trial notes or the trial's digital sound recording.