New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ODOM v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-027-551, Claim No. 98148, Motion No. M-61407


Synopsis


Pro Se discovery motion.

Case Information

UID:
2001-027-551
Claimant(s):
JONATHAN ODOM
Claimant short name:
ODOM
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
98148
Motion number(s):
M-61407
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
ALTON R. WALDON, JR.
Claimant's attorney:
Jonathan Odom, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Hon. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney GeneralBy: Carol C. Poles, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 30, 2001
City:
New York
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers were reviewed by the Court on this motion: Claimant's Notice of Motion, Claimant's Affidavit, Claimant's Affirmation in Support of his Good Faith Effort Attempt and annexed Exhibits A and B, Claimant's Affirmation and annexed Exhibits A and B, Defendant's Affirmation in Opposition and annexed Exhibits 1-4, and Filed Claim.

Claimant, Jonathan Odom, a pro se inmate, who currently resides at the Attica Correctional Facility(Attica), has moved pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules(CPLR) R 3124 for an order compelling discovery from defendant, the State of New York.

Claimant puts forth numerous allegations of wrongdoing against defendant in his claim which took place while he was incarcerated at the Downstate Correctional Facility(Downstate). Specifically, claimant alleges, inter alia, that he was assaulted by New York State Correctional Officers on April 1, 1998. Claimant states that this was done in retaliation to his filing of numerous lawsuits against correctional personnel.

Initially, the Court notes that this matter had been scheduled for trial before Judge Thomas J. McNamara on February 22, 1999. It is generally inappropriate to continue discovery matters after a date for trial has been set, especially, when the adjournment was for administrative reasons brought on by claimant himself. However, the Court is cognizant of the fact that this case is being promulgated by a pro se litigant and will entertain this one final discovery motion at this time.

Claimant seeks an order from the Court compelling disclosure of all the items requested in his January 6, 2000 Request for Production of Documents. Defendant has responded by making available for inspection items 1-7 and 12 listed in claimant's Request. Alternatively, defendant will provide claimant with copies of these documents once it receives the costs of reproducing them. This is a proper condition required by defendant since it is statutorily authorized. Public Health Law §17 provides that a reasonable charge for paper copies shall not exceed seventy-five cents per page. Additionally, the New York State Codes Rules and Regulations Title 7, § 5.36 provides that fees for photocopies of a department record shall be 25 cents per page, not exceeding 9 inches by 14 inches in size. The section goes on to state that the fees for other types of copies shall be "reasonable amounts." This may be a moot point since defendant is providing the documents for inspection by claimant.

Defendant objects to claimant's request for a copy of all reports and records stating the reasons why claimant was placed into the Mental Health Unit on April 1, 1998 and copies of Dr. Abastilla's orders. Pursuant to Mental Hygiene Law §33.13(c)1, this Court finds that the need for confidentiality significantly outweighs the interests of justice and these records are not discoverable by claimant.

Defendant objects to claimant's request for a copy of all criminal proceedings, which took place at the Town of Fishkill Local Criminal Court, heard in connection with the April 1,1998 incident. Defendant correctly points out that these are public records. However, since defendant is also seeking to obtain these records, it would seem to be in the interests of justice that if these records are obtained by defendant that copies are given to claimant. A fee for the photocopies would again be appropriate.

Defendant objects to the disclosure of treatment and medical records of the correctional officers involved in the April 1, 1998 incident. The probative value of a discovery request must be weighed against any safety and security concerns involved in an action. Therefore, after taking into account all the facts and circumstances surrounding this action as well as the relevance of this discovery request, it would be inappropriate to permit the disclosure of these records.

Defendant properly objects to claimant's request for all outside hospital records of medical treatment provided to him. These records are not within the custody and control of defendant and therefore not discoverable through defendant.

Claimant requested a copy of the Use of Force Departmental Statewide Directive #4944 from defendant. Defendant states that this information is readily available to claimant in the law library of Attica. Since this request does not seem unduly burdensome on defendant, the Court hereby directs it to provide claimant with a copy of the directive.

Claimant also requested a copy of the Use of Force Departmental Statewide Directive #4943 from defendant. Defendant objects to the production of this directive on the basis of safety and security concerns for the correctional facility and its staff. As previously stated, this Court is acutely aware of such concerns and after weighing them against the probative value of the request this Court finds that the requested directive is not discoverable by claimant in this matter.

Lastly, claimant seeks production of a copy of the 1999 edition of both the DOCS Employee's Manual and the Medical Health Staff Employee's Manual. Defendant objects due to relevance and that the request is overbroad. Defendant is correct in both of its assertions. Since the incident in question occurred on April 1, 1998, there is no relevant reason to require the production of these 1999 manuals. Additionally, the request is overbroad and any future request should delineate the specific relevant portions of the manuals.

Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, this motion is denied in part and granted in limited part for the purposes heretofore mentioned.


April 30, 2001
New York, New York

HON. ALTON R. WALDON, JR.
Judge of the Court of Claims