New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LASHLEY v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2003-031-075, Claim No. 106808, Motion No. M-66651


Claimant's motion to compel disclosure granted 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:
New York State Attorney General
BY: HEATHER R. RUBINSTEIN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
October 15, 2003

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This is Claimant's motion for an order compelling disclosure, preclusion, or monetary relief pursuant to CPLR §§ 3124 and 3126. In deciding this motion, I have read and reviewed the following papers:
1. Claimant's Notice of Motion, filed April 7, 2003;
2. Claimant's Affidavit, sworn to April 2, 2003;
3. Affirmation in Opposition of Heather R. Rubinstein, Esq., dated May 20, 2003, with attached exhibits;
4. Filed documents: Claim and Answer. This claim arose on April 28, 2002, at approximately 1:35 p.m. while Claimant was an inmate at Five Points Correctional Facility. According to Claimant, he was in the rest room of the 8-Block recreation yard when he was assaulted by another inmate. Claimant alleges that he had previous violent altercations with this other inmate, Barry Green, and had not requested protective custody because he had been assured that Mr. Green would be prevented from having further contact with Claimant. Claimant alleges that Defendant negligently failed to keep him and Mr. Green separated. 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 demand for interrogatories and a demand for the production of documents on December 6, 2002. Claimant asserts that, though Defendant did respond to his requests, the responses are inadequate. Claimant further asserts that Defendant has inappropriately objected to certain demands, claiming that they are over-broad, irrelevant or relate to privileged documents.

After Claimant filed this motion, but before the return date, Defendant served supplemental responses to Claimant's demands. It appears that, with the exception of the items I will address below, the dispute between the parties has been resolved. In any event, 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: "There 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 Department of Correctional Services' employees as well as other inmates. Keeping this balance in mind, I find that, except as described below, Defendant's responses to Claimant's demands were proper.

The matters remaining in dispute relate only to items in Claimant's document demands as follows:

Item 8 (Claimant's request for photographs relating to the incident). Defendant is correct that photographs of Department of Correctional Services employees are not relevant or discoverable in this action. However, photographs of the scene of the assault or any weapons used in the assault are relevant and discoverable. To the extent that such photographs exist, Defendant is directed to provide them to Claimant within sixty (60) days of the filed date of this decision and order.

Item 9 (Claimant's request for the transcripts of these Tier II disciplinary hearings for himself and for inmate Barry Green relating to the incident). With regard to his own disciplinary hearing relating to this incident, Claimant is entitled to this document if it exists. I find that the transcript of inmate Green's hearing may contain information that is privileged or unrelated to legitimate discovery concerns and, therefore, Defendant's objection is appropriate. To the limited extent that the disposition of inmate Green's hearing may be relevant, that information is discussed in the next item.

Item 10 (Claimant's request for inmate Green's disciplinary history). Though Defendant argues that this information is not relevant, I find that it may be relevant as it relates to notice to Defendant of Mr. Green's violent propensities. For this reason, Defendant is directed to produce two copies of Mr. Green's disciplinary history to the Court for in camera review. One copy is to be unredacted and the second copy is to be redacted in a manner which Defendant believes presents information relevant to this claim (i.e. Mr. Green's assaultive behavior) while removing privileged, or irrelevant information. It is anticipated that this document will indicate whether Mr. Green was found guilty of assaulting Claimant on the day in question, thereby eliminating Claimant's need for the documents requested in item 9 above. These records are to be provided to the Court within sixty (60) days of the filing date of this decision and order. After reviewing these documents, the Court will issue a further decision regarding whether and how any portion of these documents are to be provided to Claimant.

Based upon the foregoing and it is:

ORDERED, that Claimant's motion is granted in part and Defendant is directed to provide the documents as set forth above; and it is further

ORDERED, that all further relief requested by Claimant in his motion to compel disclosure is denied.

October 15, 2003
Rochester, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims