New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SIMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-019-500, Claim No. 98663, Motion No. M-62565


Claimant's motion to compel compliance with discovery demands denied.

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:
Defendant's attorney:
BY: Paul F. Cagino, Assistant Attorney General of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 17, 2001

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, moves pursuant to CPLR 3124 and 3126 to compel the defendant State of New York to comply with various discovery demands. The State of New York (hereinafter "State") opposes the motion.

The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. Claim, filed July 20, 1998.
  2. Answer, filed August 28, 1998.
  3. Claimant [sic] First Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents, filed September 21, 1998.
  4. Claimant [sic] First Request for Admission, filed September 21, 1998.
  5. Defendant's Response to Interrogatories, filed October 13, 1998.
  6. Defendant's Response to Claimant's First Request for Admissions, filed October 13, 1998.
  7. Claimant [sic] Second Set of Interrogatories, filed October 19, 1998.
  8. Claimant [sic] Second Request for Admission, filed October 19, 1998.
  9. Defendant's Response to Claimant's Second Set of Interrogatories, filed February 10, 1999.
  10. Defendant's Response to Claimant's Second Request for Admissions, filed February 10, 1999.
  11. Copy of letter from Robert Sims to Dennis M. Acton, AAG, dated February 18, 1999.
  12. Claimant [sic] Third Request for Admission, filed April 14, 1999.
  13. Defendant's Response to Claimant's Third Request for Admissions, filed April 22, 1999.
14. Affirmation of Good Faith, filed June 22, 1999.
  1. Notice of Motion No. M-62565, dated October 12, 2000, and filed October 16, 2000.
  1. Affirmation of Robert Sims, in support of motion, dated October 12, 2000.
  2. "Rule 206.8 (b) Affirmation", of Robert Sims, dated October 12, 2000, with attachment.
  3. Affirmation of Paul F. Cagino, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated October 26, 2000, and filed October 30, 2000.
  4. Reply Affirmation of Robert Sims, dated November 2, 2000, and filed November 3, 2000.

This Claim was filed on July 20, 1998 alleging that Claimant was assaulted by a correction officer while incarcerated at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility on February 23, 1998. The Claim also indicates that a Notice of Intention was served on the attorney general's office by certified mail, return receipt requested, on April 21, 1998. By way of this motion, Claimant asserts that the following discovery demands were served upon the State in 1998 and 1999:
a) first set of interrogatories and requests for production of documents dated September 15, 1998;

b) second set of interrogatories dated October 14, 1998;

c) first request for admissions dated September 15, 1998;

d) second request for admissions dated October 14, 1998; and

e) third request for admissions dated April 12, 1999.

From a review of Claimant's motion papers it appears his complaints about the State's responses boil down to several issues, namely the State's responses were late by time periods ranging from days to months; the responses were not provided under oath; and the responses were "inadequate"; "frivolous and malicious"; "unresponsive and deficient"; or "false and misleading". (Claimant's Affidavit; Claimant's letters to the State dated February 18, 1999 and September 19, 2000). Claimant's papers offer nothing more than these conclusory assertions of his dissatisfaction with the State's responses. By the same token, the State's opposing papers only add more vagueness and generalizations to Claimant's papers. The State's response, barely two pages in length, provides no direction or insight for the Court and offers only it's own conclusory statement that "[t]he claimant has repeatedly requested improper items and/or responses." (Affirmation of Paul F. Cagino, AAG, ¶ 5).

Although Claimant did submit a good faith affirmation attempting to establish his efforts to resolve these disputes, his attempts seem based on two prior letters sent to the Attorney General dated February 18, 1999 and September 19, 2000 neither of which contain any more detail than his motion papers. However, the State makes no representation that it ever responded in substance to Claimant's concerns in an attempt to resolve any of these issues, nor does the record reflect any such attempts. In short, this Court will not yet decide a discovery dispute that the parties themselves do not appear interested in addressing in detail or resolving between themselves.

The Court instructs both sides to make substantive attempts in the future to communicate, in writing, with one another to resolve all discovery disputes without the need for court intervention. Claimant needs to articulate the specific legal grounds on which he believes the State's responses to be inadequate, while the State needs to express in what manner it believes the demands are "improper".

Claimant should be mindful, however, that the remedies set forth in CPLR 3126 are "[a]ppropriate only where the moving party conclusively demonstrates that the nondisclosure was willful, contumacious or due to bad faith [citations omitted]". (Remuneration Planning & Servs. Corp. v Berg & Brown, 151 AD2d 268, 269). Most importantly, the fact that a litigant is dissatisfied with the answers to interrogatories given by an opposing party is insufficient to establish willful or contumacious conduct. (Miller v Duffy, 126 AD2d 527).

Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, it is ordered that Claimant's motion, Motion No. M-62565, is DENIED without prejudice.

January 17, 2001
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims