New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
WILLIAMS v. STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2010-018-105, Claim No. 115887, Motion No. M-77417

Synopsis

Case information

UID: 2010-018-105
Claimant(s): RONALD E. WILLIAMS
Claimant short name: WILLIAMS
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 115887
Motion number(s): M-77417
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: DIANE L. FITZPATRICK
Claimant's attorney: RONALD E. WILLIAMS
Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: ANDREW M. CUOMO
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: Thomas Trace, Esquire
Senior Attorney
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: March 1, 2010
City: Syracuse
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant brings a motion for summary judgment and to strike Defendant's Answer. Defendant opposes the motion.

The claim asserts that the Disciplinary Review Committee and the Superintendent granted Claimant's release from disciplinary confinement on October 8, 2007. Claimant asserts that he was held for an additional 19 days without a hearing or any new charges. Claimant seeks to recover damages for the alleged wrongful and excessive confinement.

Defendant interposed a Verified Answer to the claim denying the substantive allegations in the claim.(1)

Claimant argues, by this motion, that there is no defense to his claim that he was wrongfully and excessively confined. Claimant maintains that he is, therefore, entitled to recover a judgment in his favor.

Defendant, in opposition states, that it was justified in not releasing Claimant at the end of his disciplinary confinement because of concern over the type of misconduct Claimant committed. Defendant argues that due to the nature of Claimant's misbehavior, Directive 0701 required a referral to the Classification Analyst, Classification Counselor, or supervisor for a review by the Inspector General to determine whether the inmate should be considered a "Central Monitoring Case" requiring special supervision. The issue was referred to the Inspector General on September 18, 2007, and no determination was made as to whether Claimant could be released to the general population until October 22, 2007. Pursuant to the directive, the Inspector General must complete the review within a reasonable time. Claimant was then released back into the Gouverneur general population on October 26, 2007.

A cause of action for wrongful confinement is a "species" of the tort of false imprisonment (Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d 399, 407). It is Claimant's burden to show that " (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 cert denied sub nom. Schanbarger v Kellogg, 423 US 929). "An inmate's release from an imposed disciplinary confinement in keeplock, or otherwise upon the expiration of an ordered penalty, is... a purely ministerial act invoking no discretionary authority... The purported failure to have timely released claimant from keeplock, which might be termed ministerial neglect, vitiates the Rules and Regulations of the Department of Correctional Services and liability may ensue." (Gittens v State of New York, 132 Misc 2d at 406).

Here, it was undisputed that Claimant was held in the Special Housing Unit 19 days beyond the expiration of his ordered penalty as modified by the Disciplinary Review Committee. Clearly, Defendant's confinement of Claimant in the Special Housing Unit during this time was intentional, and the Claimant was aware of the confinement and did not consent to it. Claimant also argues that the confinement was not privileged, as there were no additional charges pending against him, and no further hearing was held. The burden on this motion then shifted to Defendant who has raised an issue of fact as to whether the extended confinement was privileged in accordance with Directive 0701 (see Palone v City of New York, 5 AD3d 750, 751). Claimant's continued confinement in the Special Housing Unit from October 8, 2007 through October 22, 2007 may have been privileged.

However, Defendant acknowledges that on October 22, 2007, it received notification from the Inspector General that Claimant could be transferred to the general population. Despite this notification, Claimant still was not transferred to the general population until October 26, 2007. Defendant has failed to explain any reason for this additional delay. As a result, Defendant is liable for Claimant's wrongful confinement for the four days after receiving notification from the Inspector General that Claimant could be released back to the general population. Claimant, however, has not produced any evidence of the amount of his damages. Therefore, the damages issue shall await resolution at trial, along with the issue of whether Claimant's confinement from October 8, 2007 through October 22, 2007, was privileged.

Accordingly, Claimant's motion is granted in part in accordance with this Decision and Order on the issue of liability only, and the balance of Claimant's motion is denied. A trial on the remaining issues in his claim and the amount of damages for his wrongful confinement from October 22, 2007 through October 26, 2007, shall be scheduled in due course.

March 1, 2010

Syracuse, New York

DIANE L. FITZPATRICK

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court has considered the following documents in deciding this motion:

1. Notice of Motion.

2. Affidavit of Ronald Edward Williams, sworn to August 6, 2009, with exhibits attached thereto.

3. Affirmation in Opposition by Thomas M. Trace, Esquire, Senior Attorney, in opposition, with exhibits attached thereto.


1. Defendant also interposed a First Affirmative Defense which was later withdrawn by letter dated January 29, 2009.