New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BONDS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-015-127, Claim No. 101992, Motion No. M-62837


Claimant ordered to serve and file formal responses to outstanding discovery demands which he resisted on basis that defendant understood the nature of claim and possessed sufficient facts regarding the loss of claimant's prison artwork.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Johnnie Bonds, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Joel L. Marmelstein, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
March 1, 2001
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The defendant's motion for an order pursuant to CPLR Rule 3042 (c) and Rule 3124 compelling the claimant to respond to the defendant's demand for a verified bill of particulars and various other discovery demands served upon him on July 12, 2000[1] is granted. The claim filed on February 22, 2000 seeks to recover the sum of $227.50 as the reasonable value of three pieces of the claimant's art work which were lost, and two pieces that were damaged, while in the custody of employees of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS). It is alleged that during February of 1999 the claimant created five pieces of wooden art while at Marcy Correctional Facility which he placed in the custody of DOCS personnel for transfer and display at an art show to be conducted in Albany, New York. By written notice dated September 7, 1999, the Recreation Supervisor at Marcy Correctional Facility advised claimant that of the five items of artwork, three were damaged beyond repair and were destroyed, and that the remaining two were damaged. Claimant commenced an administrative proceeding seeking the sum of $227.50 and rejected the State's offer of $35.00 to resolve the matter . DOCS denied recovery to claimant in the administrative proceeding upon the ground that "[t]he original $35 offered is a reasonable level of compensation based on the claimant's failure to submit receipts confirming costs of materials and minimal repairs necessary to items 1 and 4". The claim was filed and served and claimant made a motion for summary judgment which this Court denied by decision and order dated June 28, 2000 upon a finding that a question of fact existed as to whether DOCS exercised reasonable care in safeguarding claimant's property.

On the instant motion defendant alleges that a demand for a bill of particulars and other discovery demands were served upon claimant on July 12, 2000. By letter dated September 8, 2000 defendant's attorney requested responses to the outstanding discovery demands. Claimant by letter dated September 12, 2000, in lieu of a formal response to the demands, stated "[i]ts [sic] been my understanding that all relevant information upon this matter has been provided. Also all other data is readily available to you, as I remain in custody of the State's Department of Correctional Services." Upon receipt of the claimant's correspondence the defendant's attorney renewed his request for appropriate formal responses to the outstanding demands in a letter to the claimant dated September 25, 2000. On October 3, 2000 claimant served a "Response to Defendants [sic] Bill of Particulars and Discovery Demands" which recited the parties' prior correspondence on the subject and reiterated claimant's position, set forth in his letter of September 12, 2000, that all relevant materials had been provided or were available to the defendant. Defendant's attorney attempted yet again to elicit formal responses from the claimant by letter dated October 13, 2000 in which the defendant's attorney stated that claimant's failure to respond within ten days would result in a motion to preclude claimant from introducing evidence in this regard at the time of trial. Additional correspondence ensued and the defendant's attorney, in a letter dated November 14, 2000, requested specifics regarding the damages sought by claimant in the amount of $455.00 which was double the damage amount set forth in the claim. Claimant, in a letter dated November 27, 2000, in relevant part, stated "[u]pon your request, answer is that the amount of $455.00 is the agree [sic] upon price, accepted and upon written agreement." No copy of the referenced written agreement was provided and this motion, identified as one to compel responses to the defendant's demands, ensued.

A bill of particulars in civil practice provides the adverse party with a more detailed picture of the claim or the defense being particularized. "The purpose of a bill of particulars is to amplify the pleadings, limit the proof and prevent surprise at trial" (Twiddy v Standard Mar. Transp. Servs., 162 AD2d 264, 265). "In furnishing the particulars requested, a bill should follow the designation of the items set forth in the demand and each item of the demand must be answered separately and categorically under its own number and subdivision" (Coonradt v Walco, 55 Misc 2d 557, 560). Simply stated, the claimant is required to provide answers to each of the separately numbered demands. Should claimant object to any individual demand, the objection should be stated with reasonable particularity and full responses provided as to the remaining items (see, CPLR 3042 (a)).

Claimant shall treat the other discovery demands made by the defendant and served upon him on July 12, 2000 in the same fashion.

Claimant's responses to the demand for a bill of particulars and to the other discovery demands shall be served upon the defendant's attorney within 45 days of service of this decision and order with notice of its entry. Claimant's failure to timely comply with this decision and order will result in his being precluded from offering evidence at trial regarding any and all items upon which responses have not been provided without the necessity of an additional motion to preclude such evidence.

March 1, 2001
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
1. Notice of motion dated December 6, 2000;
  1. Affirmation of Joel L. Marmelstein dated December 8, 2000, with exhibits;
  2. Affidavit in opposition of Johnnie Bonds sworn to December 21, 2000;
  3. Affirmation in support of motion of Joel L. Marmelstein dated December 26, 2000.

[1]Defendant's attorney alleges that additional copies of the demands were provided to the claimant under cover of letter dated September 25, 2000.