: Claimant's June 17, 2001 grievance has nothing to do with this claim, which
involves an April, 2001, alleged unreasonable searches and harassment and a June
13, 2001, claim for alleged lost headphones. The grievance from June 17, 2001,
concerns use of a telephone.
: Claimant's June 17, 2001 Letter Complaint to Michael McGinnis
: This letter concerns the use of telephone grievance as outline above, and is
irrelevant to this claim.
: Claimant June 21, 2001 Letter complaint to...Deputy Superintendent for
: Again, this request concerns matters outside the time frame of the above
: Claimant June 27, 2001 letter complaint to Michael McGinnis
: See answer to #3, supra.
: Claimant's June 27, 2001, letter- requested telephone print-out.
: See answer to #4, supra.
: Claimant's June 10, 2001 computer print-out for telephone use at Southport
: See answer to #5, supra.
: Claimant's April-June, 2001, cell search log Southport.
: This is an overly broad, burdensome, unreasonable and irrelevant request for
voluminous documents due to the fact claimant was housed in nine different cells
during the time frame April-June, 2001.
: Claimant's files of April-June, 2001 unit supervisor notified of cell entered
by prison guard Kapnolas pursuant to Directive 4933 at XI(B).
: See answer to #7, supra.
: Claimant's files of April-June 2001, unscheduled cell searches pursuant to
Directive 4910, control of and search for contraband.
: See answer to #8, supra.
: Claimant's files of April-June, 2001 Documentation-unit logs (a-f).
: See answer to #9, supra.
(Exhibits E & F to State's papers).
Generally, a motion to compel may be brought if a party fails to respond to
"[a]ny request, notice, interrogatory, demand, question or order under this
article, except a notice to admit under section 3123...." (CPLR 3124). Of
course, items sought in discovery must be material and necessary in relation to
the pending action. (CPLR 3101). The Court has reviewed the Demand and
Responses and finds as follows:
Demands #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6: These demands all refer to
letters/complaints/print-outs dated either June 10, 17, 21 or 27, 2001. The
State does not contend that these documents do not exist, but rather represents
none are material and necessary to this claim because they relate to the "use of
a telephone" or are "outside the time frame of this
(Exhibit F to State's papers).
Claimant does not dispute that said documents relate to a telephone incident
which is not referenced in this Claim nor has he explained how these documents
are in any way related to the matters at hand. Accordingly, Claimant has not
established that the documents sought in Demands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are
material and necessary to this Claim and, as such, this Court will neither
direct their disclosure or, for that matter, an in camera
review of the
same. Claimant's motion to compel additional responses to his Disclosure
Request for the Production of Documents, Demands #1 through 6, is denied.
Demand #7: Claimant's Demand #7 requested copies of "Claimant's April-June,
2001, cell search log." The State refused such disclosure on the grounds
that such request was overly broad, burdensome, unreasonable and irrelevant
because it would involve "[v]oluminous documents due to the fact claimant was
housed in nine different cells during the time frame April-June, 2001."
(Exhibits E & F to State's Papers). In view of this Claim's allegations
relating to cell searches the Court finds that the documents are material and
necessary to this claim. The State's protestations relative to the volume of
the documents involved are without merit. Although it is unclear from this
record whether a "cell search log" exists separate and apart from a general "log
book", which would seem to minimize the documents to be searched, in either
event the fact that this Claimant may well have been moved around within a
facility does not negate the State's obligation to produce material and
necessary documents in the first instance. That having been said, however, the
State can certainly attempt to narrow its search attempt by limiting its search
to the days and hours worked by the named Officer. Additionally, the State is
permitted to redact confidential information contained in such log books
relating to non-party inmates and/or facility employees. In sum, Claimant's
motion to compel a response to Demand #7 is granted.
Demands #8, 9 and 10: The State has objected to these demands as being overly
broad, unduly burdensome and irrelevant. The Court agrees. Claimant has not
described with reasonable particularity or, for that matter, with any
specificity, the items he seeks so as to enable the State to reasonably identify
what information is sought and to conduct a search therefor. (CPLR 3120 [a]
). It is worth noting that although Claimant is a pro se
inmate he is
an experienced litigator in the Court of Claims and has previously been involved
in enough discovery disputes to understand the need for
These and other decisions from the
Court of Claims are available via the Court of Claims website at
http://www.nyscourtofclaims.state.ny.us. Accordingly, Claimant's motion to
compel a response to Demands #8, 9 and 10 is denied.
The State also cross-moved for a protective order pursuant to CPLR 3103 in
order to limit continued abuse by Claimant of the various discovery devices
available under Article 31. Although the State's main focus in the cross-motion
is Claimant's requests for immaterial and unnecessary information having no
relation to the pending claim, the State also objects to Claimant's use of
threatening language. More specifically, Claimant's letter dated February 19,
2002 included the following sentence: "[e]ither you responses [sic] or
I'll go to the court and make you do what my demands requests [sic]. You
have until the 28th February 2002 to make your responses." (Exhibit G to
Pursuant to CPLR 3103, the Court may at any time issue an order "[t]o prevent
unreasonable annoyance, expense, embarrassment, disadvantage, or other prejudice
to any person or the courts." With respect to the State's request for a
protective order relative to discovery demands unrelated to this claim, this
Court finds that the denial of Claimant's motion to compel such discovery to be
sufficient. Claimant is on notice, however, that discovery demands should be
limited to material and relevant to the allegations contained in this claim and
not otherwise privileged according to the CPLR. With respect to the State's
objection to the tone of Claimant's letter quoted above, the Court attributes
the tone more to Claimant's inability to clearly articulate his point rather
than an intent to make an overt threat. That having been said, of course,
Claimant is cautioned to avoid the use in the future of any language that could
be construed as threatening. Accordingly, the Court denies the State's
cross-motion for a protective order.
Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, it is ORDERED that Claimant's motion
to compel discovery, Motion No. M-64883 is DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART in
accordance with the foregoing, and
It is FURTHER ORDERED that the State's Cross-Motion for a protective order,
Cross-Motion No. CM-65276, is DENIED.