New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BOATWRIGHT v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-019-523, Claim No. 107672, Motion No. M-67961


Synopsis


Case Information

UID:
2004-019-523
Claimant(s):
JAVON BOATWRIGHT
Claimant short name:
BOATWRIGHT
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
107672
Motion number(s):
M-67961
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Claimant's attorney:
JAVON BOATWRIGHT, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: James E. Shoemaker, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 25, 2004
City:
Binghamton
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant moves for an order compelling a response to his "Disclosure Request for Inspection/for Production of Documents" dated June 16, 2003 pursuant to CPLR 3124. The State of New York (hereinafter "State") opposes the motion.

This claim alleges that on March 27, 2003, claimant was an inmate at Southport Correctional Facility (hereinafter "Southport") and was physically assaulted by another inmate, M. Kaleem.[1] The claim asserts, among other things, that the State was negligent in its supervision of the stairwell and exercise area in which claimant was attacked. (Claim, ¶ 3).


By way of this motion, claimant seeks to compel a response to three items in his "Disclosure Request for Inspection/for Production of Documents" dated June 16, 2003 (hereinafter "Discovery Demand"), namely demands #5, #6, and #8 thereof. The State served two responses to said demand dated August 27, 2003 and October 27, 2003, respectively. Claimant is dissatisfied with three of the State's responses as outlined below.


Demand #5
:

Claimant demands the State "[p]roduce any and all arrest reports and or records of any violent outside court cases accumalated [sic] by Inmate M. Karriem #98A5916 within the duration of his incarceration while under the care and custody of the New York Department of Correctional Services." (Claimant's Discovery Demand, p 1). The State indicates it is unaware of any "outside court cases" regarding Inmate Karriem, and further notes that such documents, if any, are maintained by the local Office of the District Attorney. The court finds the State's response to this request to be proper.


Additionally, claimant requests copies of Inmate Karriem's disciplinary history and violent misbehavior reports. The State declines to produce any records regarding Inmate Karriem due to safety and security concerns, unless produced for an in camera inspection by the court. (Defendant's Response dated August 27, 2003, ¶ 2; Affirmation of James E. Shoemaker, AAG, ¶ 6).


It is well settled that in order to establish liability in an inmate assault case, a claimant must demonstrate one of the following: (1) the State knew or should have known that claimant was at risk of being assaulted and yet failed to provide reasonable protection; (2) the State knew or should have known that the assailant was prone to perpetrating such an assault and the State did not take proper precautionary measures; or (3) the State had ample notice and opportunity to intervene but did not act. (Sanchez v State of New York, 99 NY2d 247). As such, Inmate Karriem's propensity to commit violent acts prior to this attack is relevant on the issue of notice to the State of Inmate Karriem's violent propensities and risk to claimant. For this reason, the State is directed to produce two copies of Inmate Karriem's disciplinary history including violent misbehavior reports, if any, to the court for an in camera review. One copy is to be unredacted and the second copy is to be redacted in a manner which the State believes presents information relevant to this claim while removing privileged or irrelevant information. 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.


Demand #6
:

In Demand #6, claimant demands the State "[p]roduce the Southport staff manual and or any written or oral directives based on how Southport S.H.U. exercise/recreation is supposed to be run...." (Claimant's Discovery Demand, p 2). Claimant further explains that he is attempting to ascertain whether the State followed its own procedures on the day of this incident. (Claimant's motion, p 2).


The State has indicated that there are two directives relevant to this demand, namely Directive 4933 and an unidentified Directive. With respect to Directive 4933, the State responds that it is available in the inmate law library and will be produced at a cost of 25¢ per page. (Affirmation of James E. Shoemaker, AAG, ¶ 7). It is well-settled that the State has the right to require claimant to pay reasonable photocopying costs of demanded discovery documents. (Gittens v State of New York, 175 AD2d 530). As such, the State's response relative to Directive 4933 is proper.


Additionally, however, the State indicates that Southport "[a]lso maintains a directive which is not available to inmates currently housed in the New York State Department of Correctional Services' custody. The directive is for staff only and relates to the safety and security of the correctional institution." (Affirmation of James E. Shoemaker, AAG, ¶ 7). Again, the State indicates it will be produced only for an in camera inspection by the court.


As such, even though the court has been provided with limited information, the court finds this unidentified DOCS directive should be produced for an in camera review in order to determine its relevance in the first instance and to address the State's safety and security concerns. The court will direct the State to produce two copies of the unidentified DOCS directive 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 the State believes presents information relevant to this claim while removing security sensitive, privileged, or irrelevant information. These records are to be provided to the court within sixty (60) days from 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.



Demand #8
:

Finally, claimant objects to the State's failure to produce any documents relative to his demand #8 which requested "[a]ny and all oral and or documentary reason for the existing cameras/monitors and observation mirrors in the stairwell at Southport Corr. Fac. that is utilized to run S.H.U. inmates to the excercise [sic] cages." (Claimant's Discovery Demand, p 2). The State has responded that "no such documents exist." (Affirmation of James E. Shoemaker, AAG, ¶ 8). The court finds the State's response to be proper.


Accordingly, in view of the foregoing, it is ORDERED that claimant's motion, No. M-67961, is GRANTED to the extent that the State is directed to submit the foregoing documents to the court for an in camera review within sixty (60) days from the filing date of this Decision and Order. Upon reviewing said documents, the court will issue a further decision regarding claimant's motion to compel pursuant to CPLR 3124.

February 25, 2004
Binghamton, New York

HON. FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Judge of the Court of Claims



The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. Claim, filed April 28, 2003.
  2. Claimant's Disclosure Request for Inspection for Production of Documents, dated June 16, 2003.
  3. Defendant's Response to Demand for Documents, dated August 27, 2003, and filed August 29, 2003, with attached exhibit.
  4. Defendant's Supplemental Response to Demand for Documents, dated October 27, 2003, and filed October 29, 2003, with attached exhibit.
  5. "Claimants [sic] motion to Compel Disclosure", Motion No. M-67961, dated January 11, 2004, and filed January 20, 2004.
  6. Affirmation of James E. Shoemaker, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated February 13, 2004, and filed February 17, 2004.

[1]The claim refers to the assailant as "Kaleem", although the parties subsequently refer to the assailant as Karriem. It appears that D.I.N. No. 98-A-5916 refers to an inmate Mason Karriem. Accordingly, except where noted, the court will refer to the assailant as "Inmate Karriem".