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