New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

THOMAS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-015-163, Claim No. 101033, Motion No. M-63383


Inmate claimant's motion for judicially supervised disclosure in personal injury action resulting from broken chair denied absent demonstration of special circumstances.

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:
Levi Thomas, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: G. Lawrence Dillon, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 2, 2001
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The instant claim filed September 9, 1999 seeks $350,000 in damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained by claimant on July 21, 1999 when a chair at the Mohawk Correctional Facility broke apart causing claimant to fall to the floor injuring his back. Claimant entitled this motion as one "To Compel Discovery as a Prelude For an Order to Show Cause, That The Information Requested Is Not Relevant" seeking an order directing Court supervised discovery and, apparently, an order compelling the defendant to disclose the identity of the mess hall supervisor who was on duty on July 21, 1999; the identity of the maintenance supervisor at the facility; and to disclose facility records which detail "specific procedures done dialy weekly or monthly, on the property, mainly the chairs, tables & floors, at the Mohawk Corr Facility..[sic]"

In his affirmation in opposition to the motion the defendant's attorney alleges that claimant has failed to comply with the provisions of Rule 206.8 (b) for the Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims. That rule, however, was amended effective March 22, 2001 to delete the requirement that a discovery related motion be supported by a separate affidavit detailing the parties' good faith efforts to resolve the issue in advance of the motion. The new rule requires a pre-motion conference with the assigned judge prior to making a discovery related motion in all matters except prisoner pro se claims (see, 22 NYCRR 206.8(b)). Therefore, claimant's failure to provide a good faith affidavit is not fatal to this motion.

The defendant further opposes the motion on the ground that claimant failed to serve a notice to produce the material requested on the motion (see, Rule 3120 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules) but defendant has offered to treat the motion as such a notice and to provide the requested names of the mess hall supervisor working on July 21, 1999 and the name of the facility's maintenance supervisor. Defendant's counsel, however, objected to claimant's "specific procedures" request as vague and indeterminable, a characterization with which the Court agrees. Claimant may reformulate and submit to defendant's attorney a request for maintenance records related to chairs in the Mohawk Correctional Facility mess hall.

Insofar as the motion seeks court supervised disclosure, claimant has failed to present "proof of special circumstances to warrant judicial supervision of disclosure" (Papaj v Shannon, 155 AD2d 900; Di Giovanni v Pepsico, Inc., 120 AD2d 413). Judicial supervision of disclosure "should be exercised sparingly and its exercise is not warranted in the absence of special circumstances" (Di Giovanni v Pepsico. Inc. supra) which have been neither alleged nor demonstrated on this motion. Claimant's motion is in all respects denied.

July 2, 2001
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated April 1, 2001;
  2. Order to Show Cause [sic] dated April 1, 2001;
  3. Affidavit of Levi Thomas sworn to April 2, 2001, with exhibits;
  4. Affirmation of G. Lawrence Dillon dated April 12, 2001