New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BOATWRIGHT v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-019-547, Claim No. 107672, Motion No. M-67961


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: James E. Shoemaker, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
June 8, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant previously moved for an order compelling a response to a discovery demand dated June 16, 2003 pursuant to CPLR 3124. In a Decision and Order dated February 25, 2004, the defendant State of New York (hereinafter "State") was directed to submit to the court the documents at issue for an in camera inspection. (Boatwright v State of New York, Ct Cl, February 25, 2004, Lebous, J., Claim No. 107672, Motion No. M-67961 [UID No. 2004-019-523]).[1] In accordance with said Decision and Order, the State has now supplied the discovery documents for the court's in camera inspection in the manner directed, namely one copy in unredacted form and the second copy redacted in a manner which the State believes presents information relevant to this claim while removing privileged or irrelevant information.

As a brief review, this claim arose when claimant was physically assaulted by another inmate in a stairwell while en route to an exercise area at Southport Correctional Facility on March 27, 2003. The theory of liability asserted in this claim is one of negligent supervision, namely that the State failed to protect claimant and knew or should have known that claimant was at risk and/or that the attacker, inmate Karriem, had violent propensities.

The discovery documents provided to the court and discussed herein are as follows: (1) inmate Karriem's disciplinary history (hereinafter "Karriem's Disciplinary History"); and (2) a Southport directive entitled "Special Housing Unit Exercise"[2] dated February 13, 1996 (hereinafter "Southport Directive").

The court has completed an in camera review of the aforesaid documents and finds as follows:

1. Karriem's Disciplinary History

The State's original discovery response objected to producing Karriem's Disciplinary History because it involves "[t]he safety and security of the correctional institutions." (State's Response to Demand for Documents dated August 27, 2003, ¶ 2).

A review of Karriem's Disciplinary History reveals ten disciplinary incidents (including this incident) dating from November 9, 1998 to August 27, 2003. The State has proposed redactions of nearly the entire Disciplinary History except for a few notations. The types of incidents sought to be redacted as shown on Karriem's Disciplinary History include the following charges: violent conduct, creating a disturbance, assault, weapon, direct order, interference, and loss/damage property. With respect to Karriem's violent disciplinary history while incarcerated, this court finds such incidents relevant on the issue of notice to the State of inmate Karriem's violent propensities and, as such, should be produced. In this court's view, the remaining incidents may well be relevant to the issues at hand as well to the extent they are part of inmate Karriem's overall course of behavior while incarcerated. To that end, the court finds that the first nine entries of inmate Karriem's Disciplinary History should be produced in unredacted form which would include the incident dates of November 9, 1998; January 8, 1999; April 10, 1999; September 30, 2000; October 27, 2000; February 14, 2001; February 15, 2001; and finally this incident dated March 27, 2003. In short, the court finds the State's proposed redactions of the incidents are better suited to arguments post trial on the ultimate weight to be accorded to these incidents, rather than their relevancy or admissibility in the first instance. However, the court further finds that the incident occurring on August 27, 2003 may be redacted in its entirety inasmuch as it occurred after the subject incident.

Additionally, the State has also submitted, in redacted form, an inmate misbehavior report, unusual incident report, and memorandum from Sergeant Morton, each of which relate to the violent April 10, 1999 incident. The State's proposed redactions to these forms relate to the identification information of other inmates. The court finds that the inmate misbehavior report, unusual incident report, and memorandum should be produced with the redactions proposed by the State.

2. Southport Directive

Claimant's original discovery demand sought "any written or oral directives based on how southport S.H.U. exercise/recreation is supposed to be run...." (Claimant's Disclosure Request for Inspection/for Production of Documents, Demand No. #6). The State's objection thereto stated that the document related to institutional safety. (State's Response to Demand for Documents dated August 27, 2003, ¶ 6). The State objects to the production of this entire document.

Upon review of this Southport Directive, the court finds the State's concerns relative to institutional safety and security may well be viable. However, given the limited nature of this record regarding the specifics of how and when this incident occurred the court cannot ascertain with certainty at this time whether this Southport Directive is material and relevant in the first instance. As such, the court will deny claimant's motion to compel at this juncture but will not foreclose the possibility of revisiting this issue upon an adequate showing after further discovery or at trial.

The Chief Clerk of the Court is directed to seal and preserve both sets of documents (redacted and unredacted) provided to the court for this in camera inspection in the event of possible appellate review.

Accordingly, in view of the foregoing, it is ORDERED that claimant's motion, No. M-67961, is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART in accordance with the foregoing. The State is directed to provide the aforementioned discovery documents to claimant within 45 days of the date of filing of this Decision & Order.

June 8, 2004
Binghamton, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were considered by the court in connection with this motion:
  1. DECISION AND ORDER, Lebous, J., Claim No. 107672, Motion No. M-67961, filed March 19, 2004.
  2. Documents for in camera inspection received by James E. Shoemaker, AAG, on May 28, 2004.

[1]Unreported decisions from the Court of Claims are available via the Internet at
[2]Although the State has not previously identified this document by name, the court finds no harm in using the subject heading for identification purposes.