State’s Violation of Inmate Disciplinary-Hearing Due Process Rules Did Not Entitle Inmate to Summary Judgment In His Unlawful Confinement Action
The Fourth Department determined the 3rd Department’s finding that the state violated inmate disciplinary-hearing (due process) rules did not entitle the inmate to summary judgment in his unlawful confinement action. The 3rd Department annulled the inmate’s disciplinary determination based upon the state’s (due process) rule violations. The inmate then sued the state for unlawful confinement (apparently based upon the discipline imposed by the annulled determination). The Fourth Department found that the state’s rule violation merely removed the state’s absolute immunity, allowing the unlawful confinement action to go forward. However, the inmate must prove all the elements of unlawful confinement to prevail. A question of fact remained on the “privilege” element:
It is well settled that, where, as here, the actions of correction personnel have violated the due process safeguards contained in 7 NYCRR parts 252 through 254, those actions “[will] not receive immunity” … . Contrary to claimant’s contention, however, the absence of an immunity defense does not entitle claimant to partial summary judgment on liability on his unlawful confinement cause of action. As defendant correctly contends, the “removal of immunity . . . does not result in absolute liability to defendant because claimant is still required to prove the merits of his claim” … . “Where, as here, a prison inmate contends that he was wrongfully confined as a result of the flawed prison disciplinary proceeding, once the absolute immunity is removed by showing that the governing rules and regulations were not followed, he [or she] may recover damages if he [or she] is able to prove the traditional elements of the tort of [unlawful confinement]: (1) that the confinement was intentional; (2) that Claimant was conscious of the confinement; (3) that Claimant did not consent to the confinement; and (4) that the confinement was not otherwise privileged” … . “In other words, not every violation of the rules and regulations governing the imposition of prison discipline will result in liability on the part of the State; the rule violations merely remove the cloak of absolute immunity and make the State potentially liable, if liability would be imposed under common law tort principles” … .
Here, there is no dispute concerning the first three elements of the unlawful confinement cause of action, and the dispositive issue is whether claimant established as a matter of law that the confinement was not otherwise privileged. He did not. Moustakos v State of New York, 2015 NY Slip Op 08318, 4th Dept 11-13-15