New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WILLIAMS v. STATE OF NEW YORK, #2000-006-957, Claim No. 96595, Motion No. M-62679


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2000-006-957
Claimant(s):
MARK 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):
96595
Motion number(s):
M-62679
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
EDGAR C. NeMOYER
Claimant's attorney:
MARK WILLIAMS, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERAL
By: Gregory P. Miller, Esq.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 5, 2001
City:
Buffalo
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

This is claimant's motion for an order of this court compelling disclosure pursuant to CPLR 3124 and for the imposition of sanctions pursuant to CPLR § 3126. In deciding this motion the court has read and reviewed the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated November 1, 2000 and filed November 8, 2000.
  1. Claimant's affidavit sworn to October 31, 2000, along with exhibits attached thereto, in support of the motion.
  1. Affidavit of Gregory P. Miller, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, sworn to December 18, 2000 and filed December 21, 2000 in opposition to the motion.
  1. Claim verified May 20, 1997 and filed July 14, 1997.
  1. Claimant's interrogatories to defendant and request for production of documents.
  1. Defendant's response to claimant's interrogatories and request for production of documents dated September 18, 2000 and filed September 19, 2000.


This claim arose on March 18, 1997 at approximately 7:00 p.m. while claimant was an inmate at Wende Correctional Facility. According to claimant, he was lying in his cell watching television when inmate Donald Boykin entered his cell, and slashed claimant's face with a razor. Claimant states this assault was sudden and unprovoked. It is the claimant's position the defendant was negligent in permitting a Special Housing Unit inmate with a known history of violent conduct to be in the area of claimant's cell. Claimant also alleges Correction Officer T. Territo was negligent in failing to comply with the rules and regulations, identified by claimant as "Prisoner's Right, under safety and protection."

As part of the discovery process, claimant served upon the defendant a demand for interrogatories and a request for production of documents. The demand for interrogatories consisted of six items, and the request for production of documents contained five items. Defendant responded to these two disclosure demands in September 2000. By and large, the defendant's response consisted of a refusal to produce the vast majority of documents requested and the interrogatories sought. In each instance the defendant set forth its reasons for its refusal. It is this response of the defendant's, which has prompted this motion.

The court will first deal with claimant's request for production of documents. In essence, item number one requests the defendant to provide claimant with a copy of the complete correctional facility disciplinary record of inmate Donald Boykin. Defendant has refused this request on the ground that doing so would result in security problems for the inmate and the correctional facility. Since inmate Boykin's propensity to commit violent acts and the defendant's knowledge thereof could be relevant to the allegations of the claim, this request by claimant could have merit. However, in order to satisfy the security concerns of the defendant and attempt to accommodate the claimant in pursuit of his claim, the court will order an in camera inspection of Mr. Boykin's complete correctional facility disciplinary record for the two year period prior to March 18, 1997. After the court has made its in camera inspection, an appropriate order will be entered.

Item number two requests the defendant to produce "any and all" documents relating to procedures followed by the defendant when transporting or escorting inmate Donald Boykin within the correctional facility. Defendant has refused to produce these documents on the ground, once again, that it would result in security problems for both inmate Boykin and the correctional facility. The court believes this particular request is irrelevant, and not needed to establish claimant's cause of action set forth in his claim, and further that disclosure of these documents, if any, would pose a substantial security risk to the correctional facility.

Item number three of claimant's request for production of documents seeks "any and all" documents relating to "the care, custody and control of prisoners under Special Housing Unit status while confined in a housing area other than that of a special housing unit." Defendant has refused to produce such documents on the ground that production would result in a substantial security risk to correctional facility. The court is in agreement with defendant's position, and will not require it to produce these documents. Furthermore, the court believes these documents are irrelevant, and not needed to establish claimant's cause of action. The only rule or regulation alleged by claimant in his claim to have been violated by the defendant has been identified by claimant as the "Prisoner's Right, under safety and protection." Since claimant has alleged a particular violation of these particular rules and regulations, he must be aware of and have knowledge of them.

In item number four claimant seeks documents from the defendant relating to inmate Donald Boykin's criminal conviction for which he was incarcerated at the time of the assault upon claimant. Defendant has refused to produce such information. Once again, the court finds this particular element to be irrelevant, and not needed to establish claimant's cause of action set forth in his claim. The court further believes that, to provide such information, could lead to its dissemination in the correctional facility, and pose a substantial security risk to inmate Boykin.

Claimant's fifth request for the production of documents relates to information which would be contained in the personnel file of correction officers. Defendant has refused to produce such documents on the ground that claimant has no right to such information, and further, the production of which, would violate Section 50-a of the Civil Rights Law. Based upon the cause of action set forth in the claim, the court finds item five of claimant's request for production of documents to be irrelevant and overly broad, and not needed to establish claimant's cause of action set forth in his claim. Additionally, the disclosure of these documents would violate Civil Rights Law § 50-a.

Turning now to claimant's demand for interrogatories, claimant's interrogatories one and two basically seek the identity of all witnesses to the incident including employees and non-employees of the defendant. The defendant has adequately responded to these two interrogatories, by stating it is unaware of any witnesses to the incident other than Sergeant Jeziorski and Correction Officer T. Territo.

Claimant's interrogatory number three asks that for each correction officer identified in interrogatory number one, defendant provide a detailed statement of what each correction officer witnessed, and the action taken by them. In response to this, the defendant has provided claimant with a copy of the Unusual Incident Report relating to the assault upon claimant of March 18, 1997. The court has reviewed the Unusual Incident Report, and finds it to be an adequate response to interrogatory number three. The court would further note claimant had attached a copy of the Unusual Incident Report to his claim, and also copies of the hand written statements relating to this incident of Sergeant T. Jeziorski and Correction Officer T. Territo. Although there are redactions to the Unusual Incident Report and the hand written statements, it is obvious the redactions relate to the name of inmate Donald Boykin.

Claimant's fourth interrogatory requests the defendant to state the reason why inmate Donald Boykin was being housed in the general population as opposed to a special housing unit. The defendant has refused to respond on the ground that the procedure for the housing of inmates is an internal function of the correctional facility, and further, to disseminate this information, would be a security risk to the correctional facility. The court will not require defendant to respond to claimant's interrogatory number four because this particular item appears to be irrelevant, and not needed to establish claimant's cause of action, and further, disclosure of this information would pose a substantial security risk to the correctional facility.

Claimant's fifth interrogatory seeks the reason inmate Donald Boykin was permitted to be out of his cell at the time of the incident. Defendant has responded that inmate Boykin was out of his cell to go for a shower. This response is certainly adequate.

Interrogatory number six seeks an amplification of defendant's first affirmative defense. Defendant has adequately responded to this interrogatory.

Based upon the foregoing it is

ORDERED, that claimant's motion is granted to the extent that defendant is directed to produce to the court for an in camera review the complete correctional facility disciplinary record of inmate Donald Boykin, 94-A-3553, for the two year period prior to March 18, 1997, said records to be submitted to the court within 60 days of the filing date of this order, see Kaygisiz v State of New York, Court of Claims, Claim Number 94073, Motion Number M-57636, filed 7/16/98, Bell, J., and to the extent claimant sought further relief in his motion to compel disclosure, it is otherwise denied for the reasons set forth herein, and it is further

ORDERED, that claimant's motion for the imposition of sanctions pursuant to CPLR § 3126 is denied on the ground that sanctions are not warranted under the circumstances presented here.

January 5, 2001
Buffalo, New York

HON. EDGAR C. NEMOYER
Judge of the Court of Claims