New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

PAPADOPOULOUS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2001-031-004, Claim No. 103653, Motion No. M-64137


Claimant's motion to compel disclosure granted in part.

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:
Attorney General of the State of New York
BY: RICHARD B. FRIEDFERTIG, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 18, 2001

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

  1. This is Claimant's motion for an order compelling disclosure pursuant to CPLR 3124. In deciding this motion, I have read and reviewed the following papers: Claimant's Notice of Motion dated September, 2001;
  2. Claimant's affidavit sworn to October 4, 2001, along with exhibits attached thereto;
  3. Affidavit in opposition of Richard B. Friedfertig, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, sworn to October 19, 2001;
  4. Claimant's "Reply" to Defendant's opposition papers, dated October 25, 2001;
  5. Claim, verified January 3, 2001;
  6. Claimant's interrogatories and request for production of documents, dated March 20, 2001;
  7. Defendant's response to Claimant's interrogatories and request for production of documents, dated May 9,2001;
  8. Claimant's second request for production of documents and interrogatories dated August 2, 2001; and
  9. Defendant's response to Claimant's second request for production of documents and interrogatories, dated August 19, 2001.

This claim arose on October 10, 2000, at approximately 1:50 a.m., while Claimant was an inmate at Wende Correctional Facility. According to Claimant, he was collecting garbage in the facilities RMU kitchen, when he was attacked by inmate D. Baker. He was beaten about the head and suffered a fractured skull. Claimant alleges that Defendant had notice of earlier threats made against Claimant by inmate Baker and, therefore, the assault was foreseeable and should have been prevented. He also alleges that Defendant had notice that inmate Baker had a known history of violent conduct and was, therefore, a threat to the general population. Finally, Claimant alleges that the location in the facility, which was a known dangerous area, was not properly staffed or supervised at the time of his assault.

As part of the discovery process, Claimant served upon the Defendant two sets of demands, each containing interrogatories and a demand for production of documents. The first set of demands was dated March 20, 2001, and the second August 2, 2001. Defendant responded to the requests, but objected to many of the items contained in each. Claimant asserts that Defendant's objections are without merit and Claimant seeks an order directing Defendant to comply with the demands. Specifically, Claimant states that Defendant failed to properly respond to items numbered 1 - 6, 8, 10 - 12(b), and 14 in his March 20, 2001 demands, and items 3, 9, 10, and 17 in his August 2, 2001 demands.

I will first deal with Claimant's March 20, 2001 demands. Items 1 - 6 and 8 all request information concerning staffing decisions made by facility authorities related to the location within the facility where Claimant was assaulted. Defendant objected to each of these demands as irrelevant and relating to privileged information that concerns the security of the facility. I find that Defendant's objections are appropriate, and that this information is neither necessary, nor relevant for the prosecution of Claimant's case. As stated by Judge Bell in Tucker v State of New York (Claim No. 85578, August 28, 1996):
The number of corrections officers who should be present in various areas of a correctional institution...essentially involves the experience and discretion of the Department of Corrections. Indeed, deference to the judgment of correctional facility authorities must be the rule, and a court cannot properly substitute its judgment for that of such authorities.

Items 10 and 11 request information concerning the prior assaultive behavior of Claimant's assailant. Defendant objected to these demands as irrelevant and concerning confidential information. Defendant also noted that it did not have notice of any threat that Baker presented to Claimant prior to the incident. While that may be true, liability may also be grounded upon the theory that the State had notice that the assailant was particularly prone to perpetrating such an assault and failed to take precautionary measures. [See, Smith v State of New York, 284 AD2d 741 (3d Dept.2001); Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833 (3d Dept. 1995); Wilson v State of New York, 36 AD2d 559 (3d Dept. 1971)]. For this reason, inmate Baker's propensity to commit violent acts prior to his attack on Claimant is relevant to the issue of notice to the State. Defendant is therefore directed to respond to items 10 and 11 of Claimant's first demand for interrogatories, but only as such questions relate to the two year period prior to October 10, 2000.

Item 12(a) is indistinguishable from item 9 and item 12(b) is indistinguishable from item 7. Item 14 is too broad and vague to permit a meaningful response. Defendant properly objected to each of these demands.

With respect to Claimant's second set of demands, dated August 2, 2001, items 3, 9, and 10 are again requests that relate to the discretionary staffing decisions of facility authorities. I find that this information is neither necessary nor relevant for the prosecution of Claimant's case. Defendant's objections to theses items are appropriate.

Item 17 requests information relating to correction officer Nolan's knowledge of communication between another correction officer and Deputy Superintendent Skinner, which allegedly occurred the day before the assault. While this question is not precisely worded, when read in context with the other demands it is clear that Claimant seeks information regarding officer Nolan's knowledge of threats made by Claimant's assailant prior to the assault. I find that this demand is relevant to the issue of notice to the State and requires an appropriate response from the Defendant.

Based upon the foregoing, it is:

ORDERED, that Claimant's motion is granted in part and Defendant is directed to respond, as restricted above, to items 10 and 11 of Claimant's request for interrogatories dated March 29, 2001, and item 17 of Claimant's request for interrogatories dated August 2, 2001, within 60 days of the filing date of this order; and it is further

ORDERED that all further relief requested by Claimant in his motion to compel disclosure is denied for the reasons set forth herein,

December 18, 2001
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims