New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

GEORGE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-034-507, Claim No. 108007, Motion No. M-67628


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: THOMAS G. RAMSAYAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
February 17, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant filed this motion pursuant to § 206.8 (b) of the Uniform Rules for the Court of Claims seeking to compel disclosure of various reports, photographs, and records. The Court hereby denies the motion.

The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
1. Claim, unverified, filed July 14, 2003;
2. Answer, verified July 31, 2003, filed August 4, 2003;
3. Notice of Motion, dated November 3, 2003, filed November 5, 2003;

4. Affidavit of Llewellyn George, sworn to November 3, 2003, with attached exhibits;

5. Affirmation in Opposition of Thomas G. Ramsay, Esq., dated November 24, 2003, filed November 26, 2003, with attached exhibits.

The underlying Claim was filed on July 14, 2003, alleging that Defendant permitted Claimant to be attacked by two fellow inmates at Attica Correctional Facility on April 23, 2003. Claimant served his discovery demand on August 4, 2003, seeking 11 items of discovery. Defendant agreed to produce items 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 upon payment of the appropriate photocopying fee, and also responded to demand number 8. However, the State objected to the following demands, set forth as listed by Claimant:
  1. The administrative disciplinary file of Officer Fix.
  2. All institutional memos, directives, and to-from reports concerning procedures for inmate movement in the long term keep-lock unit, at the Attica Correctional Facility.
  3. Policy -n- Procedure Manual for Attica Correctional Facility.
  4. Copy of all interdepartmental memos or directives, concerning any and all changes of movement procedure issued by the administrative department, at Attica Correctional Facility regarding operations of inmate movement during sick-call and showers in the long term keep-lock unit, within the last seven years.
  5. Copy of all communications and memos exchanged between the administration of Attica Correctional Facility and D.O.C.S. central office in Albany, New York.
Defendant has opposed disclosure of Item 1 on the ground that those records are confidential. Civil Rights Law § 50-a bars such personnel records from disclosure, except upon the express written consent of the employee, or an in camera review by the Court on notice to all interested parties. Further, the Court cannot conduct an in camera review until the applicant first satisfies the threshold requirement that a clear basis exists for conducting a review (see Civil Rights Law § 50-a [2], [3]). Absent some indication that the records sought are relevant to the matter, no review will be ordered (see People v Gissendanner, 48 NY2d 543, 549-550; People v Henry, 242 AD2d 877). Claimant has failed to provide a sufficient justification for the production and in camera inspection of Officer Fix's personnel file.

Defendant has objected to Items 2, 3, 10 and 11 on the grounds that the demands were overly broad and irrelevant, and may compromise security. Although CPLR 3101 (a) provides for "full disclosure," the items sought must be specified with reasonable particularity so as not to be unduly burdensome to the party which must comply with the request. The Court finds Claimant's demands to be so overbroad and burdensome as to be palpably improper. Further, even though Item 3 may, on its face, appear to be narrowly tailored, the manual is in fact several volumes covering all aspects of prison procedure. A general request for the manual is, therefore, overly broad. For those reasons Items 2, 3, 10 and 11 are struck (see Kern v City of Rochester, 261 AD2d 904, 905; Holness v Chrysler Corp, 220 AD2d 721, 722).

Although not a part of his formal motion papers, Claimant by way of letter (Notice of Motion, Exhibit B), requested that Defendant provide free copies of the items made available for discovery. Court of Claims Act § 27 prohibits the allowance of costs or disbursements to any party. Civil Rights Law §§ 79 (3) and 79-a (3) likewise prohibit the State from paying for expenses associated with inmate litigation (Shell v State of New York, 307 AD2d 761, lv denied ___ NE2d ___ [December 23, 2003]).

Based upon the foregoing, it is:

ORDERED, that the relief requested by Claimant in his motion to compel discovery is denied.

February 17, 2004
Buffalo, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims