New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WILLIAMS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-015-439, Claim No. 108324, Motion No. M-68918


Court found State provided responses to inmate claimant's discovery demands to be adequate and therefore denied claimant's motion to compel further responses.

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:
Omar Donahue Williams, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
Honorable Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General
By: Kathleen M. Arnold, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
November 1, 2004
Saratoga Springs

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant's motion to compel different or further responses to claimant's discovery demands is denied. The underlying claim is made by a DOCS inmate and seeks to recover $305.45 for the loss of a typewriter and television set discovered missing on June 24, 2003 and a pair of boots valued at $49.95 discovered missing on July 4, 2003. Claimant exhausted his administrative remedy when he rejected the Superintendent's offer to settle pending administrative claims (see defendant's Exhibit E). The instant claim was filed on September 24, 2003 and a verified answer was filed on October 30, 2003. Both parties exchanged discovery demands.

Claimant now moves for an order compelling further responses by the defendant to his discovery demands. Although claimant failed to provide a copy of either his demand or the defendant's initial responses thereto, copies were submitted by the defendant in opposition to the motion (see Exhibits 1 and 2 attached to the affirmation of Kathleen M. Arnold). In her opposing affirmation defense counsel states at paragraph "8" that despite good faith compliance with claimant's original demand the defendant "is serving and filing a second supplemental discovery response simultaneously with the affirmation". The second supplemental response was attached to the affirmation as Exhibit 4.

Ms. Arnold's affirmation further addressed the issues raised by claimant in the instant motion treating them in a logical and sequential order. The Court has chosen to organize this decision in the same fashion.

With regard to claimant's demand #1 (a) through (f), defendant responded that copies of DOCS policies and procedures were available to claimant at the facility law library. In the alternative defense counsel advised claimant that if copies of DOCS directives were unavailable in the facility's library the State would provide copies at $.25 per page. The State's response was adequate and the additional offer to provide copies of the policies and procedures was reasonable. Claimant's motion is therefore denied as to demands #1 (a) through (f). The State is not liable "for any expense of, or related to, inmate litigation and shall not be required to perform any services related thereto..." (Gittens v State of New York, 175 AD2d 530, 530-531; Mapp v State of New York, 69 AD2d 911, 912; Matter of Whitehead v Morgenthau, 146 Misc 2d 806).

Regarding claimant's demand #1 (g) seeking "log books with facilities" the Court finds the demand to be overly broad and lacking specificity and the motion seeking to compel a further response to this demand is therefore denied.

In paragraph 2 of claimant's demand he requests copies of policies and procedures at Great Meadow Correctional Facility from 1996 to 2003. The State's second supplemental response provided copies of such documents in effect during the period March 15, 2003 through June 28, 2003. The State argues that the policies and procedures in effect prior to the dates set forth in the claim and those effective subsequent to claimant's loss are irrelevant and that the demand in that respect is overbroad. The Court agrees and denies that aspect of the motion seeking further responses to claimant's demand #2 other than those provided in the State's second supplemental response.

The State responded to demand #7 by advising claimant that it could not comply with his request for a copy of Form 2068 purportedly signed on June 8, 2000 by an inmate named Madison with a DIN #98R7893 since the records of Great Meadow Correctional Facility revealed no known inmate named Madison with that DIN #. The defendant in opposition to the motion states that if claimant provides a full name and correct DIN # for the inmate the State will respond to the demand. The Court cannot compel compliance with an erroneous or incomplete demand and the motion is denied as to claimant's demand #7.

The Court finds that the State's response to claimant's demand #12 contained in the defendant's supplemental responses (Exhibit 3) was satisfactory and the motion is denied in that respect.

With regard to claimant's demand set forth in paragraph 17 (c) in which he apparently requests logs of outgoing mail addressed to the Commissioner of DOCS during the period June 16 - 24, 2003, the State has responded that DOCS does not log outgoing mail by the addressee's name. Outgoing mail is logged as legal mail or general mail. Furthermore, as alleged by defense counsel, it appears that claimant already possesses a copy of his June 16, 2003 letter to Commissioner Goord bearing a stamp indicating its receipt by the Commissioner's Office on June 23, 2003 (see claimant's Exhibit B on the motion). If claimant desired proof that his June 16, 2003 letter was, in fact, received by the Commissioner he could have prepared a notice to admit pursuant to CPLR 3123. Under the circumstances it does not appear that the defendant disputed the letter's receipt. The demand for an additional response to this item is therefore denied.

Finally, the defendant has provided documentation in its second supplemental response regarding an investigation of claimant's June 16, 2003 complaint by officials at Clinton Correctional Facility and no additional response is required.

Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, claimant's motion is denied.

November 1, 2004
Saratoga Springs, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The Court considered the following papers:
  1. Notice of motion dated August 3, 2004;
  2. Unsigned, "affidavit" of Omar Donahue Williams, undated, with exhibits;
  3. Affirmation of Kathleen M. Arnold dated August 23, 2004 with exhibits.