New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LOCKE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-031-011, Claim No. 101264, Motion No. M-64417


Synopsis


Claimant's motion to compel disclosure concerning his assailant is denied as irrelevant.

Case Information

UID:
2002-031-011
Claimant(s):
WHAYNE F. LOCKE
Claimant short name:
LOCKE
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
101264
Motion number(s):
M-64417
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Claimant's attorney:
WHAYNE F. LOCKEPRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General of the State of New York
BY: WENDY E. MORCIO, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
April 8, 2002
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision


This is Claimant's motion for an order compelling disclosure and for sanctions pursuant to CPLR §3126. In deciding this motion, I have read and reviewed the following papers:
  1. Claimant's Notice of Motion filed December 7, 2001;
  2. Claimant's affidavit sworn to December 4, 2001, along with exhibits attached thereto;
  3. Affidavit in Opposition of Wendy E. Morcio, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, sworn to January 28, 2002;
  4. Claimant's Notice of Discovery and Inspection filed November 5, 2001;
  5. Claimant's "Reply" to Defendant's opposition papers filed January 18, 2002;
  6. Claim filed October 19, 1999.
This claim arose on September 23, 1998, at approximately 1:30 p.m. while Claimant was an inmate at Collins Correctional Facility. According to Claimant, he was in his cell taking a nap when he was brutally attacked by his cell-mate. Claimant alleges that Defendant was negligent in screening his assailant prior to placement in a double occupancy housing unit and seeks to recover for the personal injuries allegedly sustained during that attack.

As part of the discovery process, Claimant served upon Defendant a Notice of Discovery and Inspection which was filed on November 5, 2001. This demand sought "Double

Cell Information Sheets" and "Screening and Physical Assessment Sheets" for both Claimant and his attacker. Defendant produced the requested documents which relate to Claimant but has objected to producing those which relate to his attacker. Defendant asserts that disclosure is not appropriate for two reasons: first, because such documents are privileged and confidential pursuant to Public Officers Law §96(2)(b) and (c), and second, because Claimant's right to this information has already been determined by the Honorable Edgar C. NeMoyer in his Order dated November 15, 2000.

Defendant correctly points out that the documents requested fall under the protection of Public Officers Law §96(2)(b) and (c). Public Officers Law §96 under New York's Personal Privacy Protection Law, provides that no government agency shall release records containing personal information, without the request or consent of the person involved, except under certain circumstances. The purpose of this law is "to prevent the disclosure of documents constituting an unwarranted invasion of privacy" (Feliciano v State of New York, 175 Misc 2d 671, 672). Subdivision (k) of that statute permits the release of personal information "pursuant to a court ordered subpoena or other compulsory legal process." There must be a compelling reason for such an order. I find the existence of any such compelling reason lacking in this instance. There has been no showing that these documents are relevant to the prosecution of the claim. Claimant suggests that the documents are necessary because his claim alleges the violation of Department of Correctional Services regulations concerning a double bunking screening process which utilizes these documents. However, the violation of one of the regulations relating to these documents is not in and of itself something which would support a cause of action (See, Hodge v State of New York, Ct Cl, September 5, 2000 [Claim Nos. 96265 and 99031 - MacLaw No. 2000-019-020)[1]. This is not to say, however, that the State could not be held liable for a physical assault when, among other things, it failed to provide reasonable protection. (Sebastiano v State of New York, 112 AD2d 562; Littlejohn v State of New York, 218 AD2d 833; Huertas v State of New York, 84 AD2d 650).

Indeed, though the claim is couched in terms which indicate that the regulations relating to the compilation of these documents have been violated, it is clear to me that the true nature of Claimant's cause of action is for negligence in failing to prevent the assault. Therefore, information relevant to this action, such as whether his assailant had demonstrated a history of violent behavior, is contained in that inmate's disciplinary records or, perhaps, in that inmate's medical records. As the Assistant Attorney General points out, these records were the subject of the previous motion before Judge NeMoyer.

Based upon the foregoing and it is:

ORDERED, that Claimant's motion to compel disclosure is denied.

April 8, 2002
Rochester, New York

HON. RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Judge of the Court of Claims




  1. [1]This and other Court of Claims decisions may be found on the Court of Claims website at .