New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

SILVA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-009-60, Claim No. 103100, Motion No. M-65539


Synopsis


Claimant's motion requesting an in camera inspection of disciplinary records and psychiatric records of his alleged assailants was granted.

Case Information

UID:
2002-009-60
Claimant(s):
GILBERTO SILVA
Claimant short name:
SILVA
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
103100
Motion number(s):
M-65539
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
NICHOLAS V. MIDEY, JR.
Claimant's attorney:
ANDREW F. PLASSE, ESQ.
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General
BY: Gordon J. Cuffy, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 6, 2002
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

Claimant has brought this motion for an in camera inspection of the disciplinary records, prior misbehavior reports, and psychiatric records of his alleged assailants. This claim arises from two separate incidents in which claimant alleges that he was assaulted by other inmates, while he was incarcerated at Auburn Correctional Facility. Claimant alleges that on January 14, 1999, he was attacked by inmate William Mejia (97 A 0062) in the Industry Upholstery III Shop. In the second incident, claimant alleges that he was assaulted on January 21, 1999 in the North Recreation Yard by inmate Christopher Solis (95 A 6825).

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:
Notice of Motion, Affirmation, with Exhibits 1,2


Affirmation in Opposition, with Attachments 3

Reply Affirmation 4

Claimant has brought this application for the Court to conduct an in camera review of the disciplinary records, prior misbehavior reports, and psychiatric records of his alleged assailants, to determine whether they are material and relevant to his claim and therefore should be disclosed. Defendant has opposed this motion on the basis that such disclosure would violate the privacy rights of the inmates whose records are sought.

In claims alleging negligence against the State for inmate assaults, evidence of the attacker's prior behavior and a diagnosis of his medical condition are often material, relevant, and necessary to the prosecution of the claim (Wilson v State of New York, 36 AD2d 559). In order to properly pursue his claim, therefore, claimant may need access to information about the nonparty who perpetrated the assault. Reports of similar assaultive or violent behavior, and the circumstances surrounding such conduct, are therefore generally discoverable (Wilson v State of New York, supra; Villano v State of New York, 127 Misc 2d 761; Brier v State of New York, 95 AD2d 788). With regard to medical records, non-medical data contained therein relating to the assailant's criminal record and behavior in confinement prior to the assault may be disclosed, although claimant is not entitled to records relating to that inmate's prognosis and diagnosis (Brier v State of New York, supra).

Based on the above, and the allegations set forth in his claim, claimant has set forth sufficient grounds within this motion for the Court to conduct an in camera review of the institutional files for claimant's alleged assailants, to determine which part, if any, of these files should be disclosed to claimant.

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-65539 is GRANTED; and it is further

ORDERED, that defendant shall submit to the Court the Department of Correctional Services file for inmate William Mejia (97 A 0062) from the date of his placement with the Department to January 14, 1999, the date of his alleged assault against claimant; and shall also submit to the Court the Department of Correctional Services file for inmate Christopher Solis (95 A 6825) from the date of his placement with the Department to January 21, 1999, the date of his alleged assault against claimant; and it is further

ORDERED, that defendant shall submit said files to the Court within 60 days of the date of service of this decision and order by the Clerk. Defendant shall also produce, with said files, a list of the specific objections as to each and every item upon which a privilege is claimed. Upon receipt of these records and the list of objections, if any, from defendant, the Court will review said records and make a determination as to what portions, if any, are subject to disclosure.


December 6, 2002
Syracuse, New York

HON. NICHOLAS V. MIDEY, JR.
Judge of the Court of Claims