CLAIMANT-INMATE’S ACTION AGAINST THE STATE ALLEGING HE WAS BEATEN BY CORRECTIONS OFFICERS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED; THERE WERE QUESTIONS OF FACT ABOUT WHETHER THE OFFICERS WERE ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT AT THE TIME OF THE BEATING (THIRD DEPT).
The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Clark, reversing the Court of Claims, over a two-justice dissent, determined the claimant-inmate’s action alleging claimant was beaten by corrections officers after lodging a complaint against one of the officers (Poupore) should not have been dismissed. The Court of Claims ruled the state could not be liable for the beating because the officers were not acting within the scope of their employment:
… [T]he undisputed evidence demonstrated that the incident took place at Clinton Correctional Facility, that the correction officers involved were on duty and that claimant’s encounter with Poupore by the stairway was occasioned by claimant having been called downstairs for an interview with Wood [Poupre’s supervisor] … . … [T]estimony from defendant’s witnesses demonstrated that pat frisks are routinely conducted prior to inmate interviews and that Poupore was instructed to pat frisk claimant prior to his interview. Accepting claimant’s version of events as true, Poupore struck claimant during the course of that employer-sanctioned pat frisk, which then led to the involvement of additional correction officers. If claimant’s account is credited, Poupore’s intentional tortious act of punching claimant in the head was not so divorced from the performance of his pat-frisk duties so as to preclude a finding that he was acting within the scope of employment. Nor can we conclude as a matter of law that the ensuing altercation was wholly outside the scope of the additional correction officers’ duties. Galloway v State of N.Y., 2021 NY Slip Op 02855, Third Dept 5-6-21