New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
BROWN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2021-028-507, Claim No. 131193, Motion No. M-96299

Synopsis

Case information

UID: 2021-028-507
Claimant(s): ALLEN BROWN
Claimant short name: BROWN
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 131193
Motion number(s): M-96299
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: RICHARD E. SISE
Claimant's attorney: THE LAYTON LAW FIRM, PLLC
BY: Paul Thomas Layton, Esq.
Defendant's attorney: HON. LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: Felice V. Torres, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 18, 2021
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

The following papers were read on Defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR 3212:

1. Notice of Motion filed December 11, 2020;

2. Affirmation of Felice V. Torres filed December 11, 2020 with Exhibits A-E annexed;

3. Affirmation of Paul Thomas Layton filed January 12, 2021 with Exhibit annexed.

Filed papers: Claim, Answer

As alleged in the claim, on December 13, 2017 claimant was arrested and held at Rikers Island Correctional Facility on charges that he violated the terms of his parole. On January 5, 2018 he appeared at a final parole revocation hearing. Claimant alleges that the specifications were not established and the parole hold was lifted thereby entitling him to release from custody that day. However, he was returned to Rikers Island Correctional Facility, the New York City jail where parole violators are held, and not released until January 8, 2018. Defendant has moved for summary judgment dismissing the claim.

"A party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate that the cause of action or defense shall be established sufficiently to warrant the court as a matter of law in directing judgment in the moving party's favor (CPLR 3212 [b]). Thus, the proponent of a summary judgment motion must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of any material issues of fact. This burden is a heavy one and on a motion for summary judgment, facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. If the moving party meets this burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to establish the existence of material issues of fact which require a trial of the action" (Jacobsen v NY City Health & Hosps. Corp., 22 NY3d 824, 833 [2014] [citations and internal quotation marks omitted]).

A cause of action for false imprisonment is dependent upon proof that the defendant intended to confine the claimant, that the claimant was conscious of the confinement and did not consent to it, and that the confinement was not otherwise privileged (Hernandez v City of New York, 100 AD3d 433 [1st Dept 2012]). Here, the State argues that it was not responsible for claimant's confinement beyond January 5, 2018. In support of its motion defendant relies on the deposition testimony of Renell Hamilton, a senior parole officer with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). Hamilton testified that she was not claimant's parole officer but attended his preliminary hearing at Rikers Island Judicial Center on January 5th for the purpose of requesting an adjournment. Apparently, the adjournment was not granted since, as Hamilton further testified, the administrative law judge made a determination on that date of no probable cause. Hamilton went on to explain the process for communicating the results of a preliminary hearing to the New York City Department of Correction (Department of Correction). According to Hamilton, at the end of the hearing a form is given to the parole officer indicating whether probable cause was found. If, as was the case here, no probable cause is found, the officer is also given a warrant lift. The document, or documents, are then taken by the parole officer to an office on the same corridor and given to an officer of the Department of Correction. Hamilton testified that, in this instance, she took the document indicating no probable cause and the warrant lift down the hall and gave them to the officer. Hamilton testified that delivery of those documents should start the process of releasing the offender which is carried out by the Department of Correction without further involvement from DOCCS. Hamilton's testimony is sufficient to establish, prima facie, the absence of any intent by defendant to confine claimant once the parole violation was determined to be unfounded (see Mejia v Cohn, 188 AD3d 1035 [2d Dept 2020] [deposition testimony] ; Maltese v Metropolitan Transp. Auth., 179 AD3d 780 [2d Dept 2020] [deposition testimony]; Heard v Schade, 172 AD3d 1335 [2d Dept 2019] [affidavit, hearing testimony, deposition testimony]) and thereby shifts the burden to claimant to raise a triable issue of fact.

Claimant's opposition to the motion is based on an argument that a question of fact exists as to whether Hamilton tendered the warrant lift to the Department of Correction. In support of the argument claimant notes that no documentation has been provided to substantiate Hamilton's testimony, that her testimony contained inconsistencies and she could not recall essential details. Although claimant does not specify what paperwork might be produced regarding delivery of the warrant lift, given that defendant has made a prima facie showing, the burden of presenting proof contradicting Hamilton's testimony falls to claimant. Moreover, the asserted inconsistencies and lack of recall are not inherently contradictory or suspect so as to raise a question regarding Hamilton's credibility. While claimant points out that Hamilton could not provide a description of the officer to whom she handed the warrant lift, such lack of recall can be attributed to the fact that the incident occurred more than two and a half years before the deposition. Furthermore, Hamilton testified that she had performed this task on numerous occasions and the individual assigned to receive the paperwork was not always the same person. In addition, there is nothing inconsistent or suspect in Hamilton's testimony that she attended the hearing even though she was not claimant's parole officer and had no prior contact with him given that she also testified that her reason for attending the hearing was to request an adjournment. Inasmuch as claimant has failed to raise a triable issue of fact in response to defendant's prima facie showing, the motion should be granted.

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that the motion is granted and the claim is dismissed.

February 18, 2021

Albany, New York

RICHARD E. SISE

Judge of the Court of Claims