New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BROWN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2010-009-013, Claim No. 117719, Motion No. M-77684

Synopsis

Defendant's motion for an order dismissing the claim, which sought damages for confinement in the SHU, loss of good time allowance, and subsequent transfer to a maximum security facility, was dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.

Case information

UID: 2010-009-013
Claimant(s): WALTER BROWN
Claimant short name: BROWN
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) : The Court, sua sponte, has amended the caption to reflect the State of New York as the only proper defendant before this Court.
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 117719
Motion number(s): M-77684
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.
Claimant's attorney: WALTER BROWN, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO
Attorney General
BY: G. Lawrence Dillon, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney General
Of Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: April 20, 2010
City: Syracuse
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Defendant has brought this pre-answer motion seeking an order dismissing the claim based upon a failure to state a cause of action.

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:

Pre-Answer Motion, Affirmation of G. Lawrence Dillon, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, with Exhibits 1,2

Response from claimant 3

Filed Papers: Claim.

In this claim, claimant seeks damages for wrongful confinement in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), loss of good time allowance, and subsequent transfer to a maximum security facility (Southport Correctional Facility), all arising from the issuance of a misbehavior report against him issued at Mid-State Correctional Facility, where he was then incarcerated.

As set forth in the claim and motion papers, claimant was issued a misbehavior report on or about September 13, 2009 when he was charged with violations of inmate behavior standards. Claimant was found guilty following a disciplinary hearing and as a result, he was required to serve four months in the SHU and he lost three months of his good time allowance. Claimant further alleges in this claim that the loss of his good time allowance caused him to miss his conditional release date of September 30, 2009. Claimant also alleges that as a result of this incident, he was transferred to a maximum security facility where he was subjected to harassment by correction officers and medical staff.

The actions of prison personnel involving inmate disciplinary matters are generally quasi-judicial and, unless they exceed the scope of their authority or violate applicable rules, are afforded absolute immunity (Arteaga v State of New York, 72 NY2d 212; Davis v State of New York, 262 AD2d 887, lv denied 93 NY2d 819).

In this matter, there are no allegations that the defendant violated any of its own rules or regulations in conducting the disciplinary hearing which resulted in the penalties imposed upon claimant, nor are there any allegations that the defendant otherwise acted outside the sphere of its privileged actions (Arteaga v State of New York, supra). As a result, the penalties imposed at the hearing (the imposition of time in SHU and the loss of good behavior allowance) involved discretionary actions which are entitled to absolute immunity.

Furthermore, it is well established that the Commissioner of Correctional Services has virtually unbridled authority to transfer inmates from one facility to another pursuant to Correction Law 23 (Matter of Johnson v Ward, 64 AD2d 186), and the department does not have to provide reasons for any such transfer (Matter of Henry v Coughlin, 189 AD2d 1054). Accordingly, claimant has not asserted a valid cause of action seeking to recover damages resulting from his transfer to Southport Correctional Facility.

Accordingly, based upon the foregoing, it is hereby

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-77684 is hereby GRANTED; and it is further

ORDERED, that Claim No. 117719 is hereby DISMISSED in its entirety.

April 20, 2010

Syracuse, New York

NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.

Judge of the Court of Claims