New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ROSA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2002-031-066, Claim No. 104529, Motion No. M-65646


Synopsis


Claimant's motion to compel disclosure granted in part.

Case Information

UID:
2002-031-066
Claimant(s):
ROBERT ROSA
Claimant short name:
ROSA
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
104529
Motion number(s):
M-65646
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Claimant's attorney:
ROBERT ROSA, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
New York State Attorney General
BY: RICHARD B. FRIEDFERTIG, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 12, 2002
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

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:
1. Claimant's Notice of Motion, filed August 15, 2002;
2. Claimant's Affidavit, sworn to August 7, 2002, with attached exhibits;
3. Affidavit of Richard B. Friedfertig, Esq., sworn to October 4, 2002;
4. Affidavit of Captain Martin Kearney, sworn to September 18, 2002;
5. Filed documents: Claim and Answer. This claim arose on April 27, 2001, at approximately 10:30 p.m., while Claimant was an inmate at Wende Correctional Facility. According to Claimant, he was in his cell when an inmate nearby was forcibly extricated from his cell. Chemical agents were allegedly used during this extrication. Claimant asserts that, shortly after the use of these chemical agents, the cells surrounding the one in which the chemicals were used were opened and the inmates locked in those cells, including keeplock inmate Sandsom (98-A-5600) were evacuated. During this evacuation, Claimant was assaulted by inmate Sandsom. Claimant alleges that Defendant negligently failed to protect him from this assault. He seeks to recover damages for the personal injuries he suffered as a result of this assault.

As part of the discovery process, Claimant served upon Defendant a letter demand requesting the production of certain documents. This demand is not attached to Claimant's motion papers, nor contained within the Court's file. However, Defendant's response to this demand and the motion papers clearly identify what documents Claimant seeks. Claimant requests Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") directive 4903, relating to the use of chemical agents, and DOCS directive 3006, which Claimant has identified as "Policy and Procedure." Claimant also requests information concerning the disposition of his attacker's disciplinary hearing relating to the April 27, 2001 incident.

Defendant objected to these requests, and continues to do so, on the basis that the directives requested are among a category of directives that are classified as secure documents. As these documents relate to the security of the facilities and its personnel, they are not distributed to inmates. Defendant also maintains that these documents are not relevant to Claimant's cause of action. Defendant objects to the production of documents relating to inmate Sandsom's disciplinary hearing on the basis that these documents are irrelevant and would constitute an invasion of inmate Sandsom's privacy.

Certainly, the Court is aware of the unique issues posed by the correctional facility setting as it relates to the broad mandate of CPLR 3101, which provides that: "[t]here shall be full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action, regardless of the burden of proof . . ." (CPLR 3101(a)). The requirements of this section must be balanced against the legitimate concern for the safety and security of DOCS's employees as well as other inmates.

With regard to the directive 4903, I find that, while Defendant's objections are appropriate, this information may be necessary and relevant for the prosecution of Claimant's case. Information regarding how Defendant did or did not comply with directive 4903 as it may relate to evacuating inmates housed nearby may be material to Claimant's case. For this reason I find that directive 4903 should be produced to the Court for an in camera inspection. Following this inspection, I will determine whether or not, and how, this document is to be provided to Claimant or used at trial.

Claimant has failed to indicate what he hopes to gain by production of directive 3006 and, therefore, why this document is relevant to the prosecution of his claim. For this reason, I find that this document need not be produced.

With regard to Claimant's request concerning inmate Sandsom's disciplinary hearing, I note that Claimant has asked only for the disposition, i.e., whether Mr. Sandsom was found guilty or not guilty. While it is unclear how Claimant hopes to use this information, I find that this information could arguably prove useful in the prosecution of his case. Defendant is therefore directed to provide Claimant with information concerning the disposition of Mr. Sandsom's disciplinary hearing relating to the April 27, 2001 incident.

Based upon the foregoing and it is:

ORDERED, that Claimant's motion is granted in part and Defendant is directed to provide a copy of DOCS directive 4903 as it existed on April 27, 2001, to my chambers within 30 days of the filing date of this order for an in camera review. Defendant shall also provide Claimant with information regarding the disposition of Mr. Sandsom's disciplinary hearing relating to the April 27, 2001 incident 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 12, 2002
Rochester, New York

HON. RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Judge of the Court of Claims