New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MCFADDEN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-030-546, Claim No. 106235, Motion No. M-66277


Pro se inmate's motion to compel responses to his discovery requests and for sanctions granted in part and denied in part.

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:
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
May 27, 2003
White Plains

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers numbered 1 to 5 were read on Claimant's motion to

compel responses to his discovery requests, and for sanctions:

1,2 Notice of Motion, Affidavit in Support of Motion to Compel & Sanctions by Reginald McFadden, Claimant, dated December 31, 2002

3 Affirmation in Opposition Claimant's Motion to Compel and in Support of Defendant's Cross-Motion for Protective Order and Consolidation of Claims by Glenn C. King, Assistant Attorney General, dated January 7, 2003,[1] and accompanying Exhibit "E"

4 Reply to Defendant's Response to Claimant's motion to compel and sanction for frivolous conduct and cross motion for protective Order & Consolidation by Reginald McFadden, Claimant, dated January 13, 2003

5 Filed papers: Claim, Answer

After carefully reviewing the papers submitted and the applicable law the motion is disposed of as follows:

Reginald McFadden, the Claimant herein, alleges in Claim number 106235 that defendant's agents failed to provide him with safe accommodations and negligently exposed him to asbestos and to lead paint due to asbestos removal conducted without attention to proper safety procedures; failed to provide Claimant with adequate medical treatment after a fellow inmate set his own cell on fire causing Claimant to be "almost suffocated by burning plastic;"[2] failed to provide adequate health care relative to Claimant's hearing impairment; and failed to provide proper accommodations in light of his impairment in conformance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. These are described, generally, as continuous wrongs, although there is some indication that the asbestos removal occurred in September, 2000 or June, 2001 while Claimant was either at Downstate Correctional Facility or at Dannemora - it is unclear from the claim. Lead paint problems are alleged as occurring at Clinton Correctional Facility in December, 2001. The cell fire allegedly occurred on April 15, 2002.

Claimant served Interrogatories upon Defendant on or about December 3, 2002. Defendant responded to same on or about December 24, 2002. [Affirmation in Opposition by Assistant Attorney General, Exhibit "E"]. See, Civil Practice Law and Rules §§3130, 3131, 3132, 3133.

Claimant now seeks an order directing Defendant to answer all questions truthfully and for sanctions pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules §3126 , based upon the purportedly evasive responses of the Assistant Attorney General.

The Court has reviewed the Interrogatories served and the responses and finds the responses adequate based upon the inquiries made. As the relevant statute provides: "Interrogatories may relate to any matters embraced in the disclosure requirement of section 3101...." See, Civil Practice Law and Rules §§3101, 3131. The " responding to an interrogatory is not required to anticipate what information the proponent of the interrogatory is seeking but need only answer the actual question posed...." Meraner v Albany Medical Center, 211 AD2d 867, 868 (3d Dept 1995), lv dismissed, 85 NY2d 968 (1995). Valid objections to interrogatories include that they are irrelevant, immaterial and unnecessary; over broad, vague, ambiguous, or unduly burdensome; or duplicative of other materials or responses already provided.

In this case, the Court cannot help but note that some of these questions ask for an opinion as to whether officials involved in maintaining the facility acted in accordance with certain regulations, or requests information not in Defendant's control. Where the questions are specific, however, they have been answered.

Indeed, given Claimant's slight clarification of his Demand #4 regarding asbestos removal in the period between September, 2000 and June, 2001, the Defendant was able to specifically respond. [See, Affidavit in Support by Reginald McFadden, ¶5; Affirmation in Opposition by Assistant Attorney General, ¶15]. Demand #5 asks: "On or about August 2001, on B-block, until May 2002, Asbestos was being removed during the changing of the locking system?" Although not the clearest inquiry, given the context of the demand, and Mr. McFadden's explanation in both his moving papers and in his Reply papers [See, Reply to Defendant's Response by Reginald McFadden, Pages 7-8], the Defendant should be able to respond to the question using B-Block as the reference rather than E-Block as it had done in the Response to Interrogatories [See, Affirmation in Opposition by Assistant Attorney General, Exhibit "E"], and is hereby directed to do so.[3] In all other respects, the responses to the interrogatories by the Assistant Attorney General are appropriate given the lack of clarity.

Accordingly, Claimant's motion to compel is hereby granted in part and denied in part. Defendant is directed to respond to Demand #5 in Claimant's Demand for Discovery Production of Documents, Interrogatories, within twenty (20) days of the filing date of this decision.

So Ordered.

May 27, 2003
White Plains, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] Defendant's motion for a protective order and for consolidation of eleven pending claims brought by Claimant was assigned to Judge Hard as Motion Number M-66233. The Assistant Attorney General included his response to this motion [M-66277] concerning this Claim in those papers.
[2]Claim No. 106235, ¶ 7.
[3] Defendant's cross-motion for a protective order is not before this Court [See, Civil Practice Law and Rules §3103] but does not appear to address this Claim directly, and will depend on resolution of the matter of consolidation to be addressed by Judge Hard.