New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RIVERA v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-019-554, Claim No. 106263, Motion No. M-67089


Claimant's motion for a conditional order striking the State's Verified Answer unless the State answers 12 separate interrogatories is denied; and upon the court's own motion the State is issued a protective order preventing claimant from future use of interrogatories.

Case Information

Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
Motion number(s):
Cross-motion number(s):

Claimant's attorney:
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Joseph F. Romani, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
August 18, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant, an inmate appearing pro se, moves for a conditional order striking the defendant's Verified Answer unless the defendant responds to his 12 separate interrogatories, as well as an order directing sanctions against the defendant for such alleged nondisclosure. The defendant State of New York (hereinafter "State") opposes the motion.

The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. Claim, filed June 21, 2002.
  2. Notice of Motion No. M-67089, dated July 1, 2003, and filed July 11, 2003.
  3. Affidavit of Jose Rivera, in support of motion, sworn to July 6, 2003, with attachments.
  4. Affirmation of Joseph F. Romani, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated August 4, 2003, and filed August 6, 2003, with attached exhibits.

Claimant alleges that prison officials applied a wrist chain too tight and delayed providing him medical care while incarcerated at Southport Correctional Facility on or about August 5, 2001.

It appears from this record that Claimant has served upon the Defendant 12 separate interrogatories as follows:

  1. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mrs. Dawn Phenes dated January 2, 2002;[1]
  2. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mr. Ford dated February 18, 2003;
  3. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mr. Marshall dated February 18, 2003;
  4. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mr. Morton dated February 18, 2003;
  5. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mr. Robinson dated February 18, 2003;
  6. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mr. Vanness dated February 18, 2003;
  7. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mr. Casselberry dated February 18, 2003;
  8. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mrs. Valerie Carlsen/Grover dated February 18, 2003;
  9. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mrs. Karen Dyal dated March 15, 2003;
  10. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mr. Granger dated March 15, 2003;
  11. Claimant's Interrogatories Directed to: Mr. Wall dated March 22, 2003;
  12. Claimant's Interrogatories Demand dated May 10, 2003.

Claimant asserts that all of these interrogatories are attempting to elicit information that is material and necessary for the preparation of his case.

The State provided 4 responses to these 12 demands dated January 10, 2003; March 18, 2003; March 27, 2003; and June 2, 2003. Each of the State's responses objected to the interrogatories on various grounds including: (1) the interrogatories are more properly described as depositions on written questions and, as such, are not authorized pursuant to CPLR 3108; (2) are not material or relevant to the underlying claim; and/or (3) are privileged pursuant to Civil Rights Law 50 (a). The State opposes this motion using these same objections.[2]

Claimant's interrogatories average between 7 to 10 pages in length and contain anywhere from 25 to 85 questions. Claimant's interrogatories are improper for the reasons outlined by the State no matter the label assigned to them be it admissions, depositions on written questions or interrogatories outlined by the State. (Blank v Schafrann, 180 AD2d 886; Rush v Insogna, 119 AD2d 879; and CPLR 3108). Moreover, it is not the function of the court to prune each of these demands, rather each demand should be and will be vacated in their entireties. (Blasi v Marine Midland Bank of Southeastern N.Y., N.A., 59 AD2d 932; see also 44A NY Jur 2d Disclosure § 329).

Additionally, the court finds that Claimant's successive use of 12 interrogatories within 6 months warrants some remedial action. CPLR 3103 (a) states that "[t]he court may at any time on its own initiative...make a protective order denying, limiting, conditioning or regulating the use of any disclosure device. Such order shall be designed to prevent unreasonable annoyance, expense, embarrassment, disadvantage, or other prejudice to any person or the courts." A review of Claimant's discovery demands leads this court to the inescapable conclusion that claimant's demands amount to nothing more than a method of harassing with repetitive requests and/or information that goes beyond the scope of normal discovery. As such, the court finds that claimant has exhausted the use of the interrogatories under CPLR 3130. As such, the court will issue a protective order to the extent of denying claimant the right to serve any future demands for interrogatories.

Finally, for the reasons stated, claimant's request for sanctions pursuant to CPLR 3126 must fail.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, that Claimant's motion, Motion No. M-67089 is DENIED in its entirety and, upon the court's own motion, the State is granted a protective order in accordance with the terms stated herein.

August 18, 2003
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1]It appears the proper date is January 2, 2003.
[2]The State's opposing papers were filed several days after the return date of July 30, 2003 due to an apparent oversight in the Attorney General's office. The court finds no prejudice in accepting the State's late submission. (CPLR 2214 [c]; 22 NYCRR 206.9 [b]).