New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

McGRIFF v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-034-554, Claim No. 108461, Motion No. M-68053


Synopsis


Claimant's motion to compel discovery of correction officer's personnel file is denied.

Case Information

UID:
2004-034-554
Claimant(s):
LORENZO McGRIFF
Claimant short name:
McGRIFF
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
108461
Motion number(s):
M-68053
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
MICHAEL E. HUDSON
Claimant's attorney:
LORENZO McGRIFF, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
New York State Attorney General
BY: REYNOLDS E. HAHN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
July 9, 2004
City:
Buffalo
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant filed this motion to compel discovery of a correction officer's personnel file. The Court will deny the motion.

The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:

1. Claim, verified October 11, 2003, filed October 28, 2003;

2. Answer, verified December 2, 2003, filed December 4, 2003;

3. Claimant's Demand for Discovery, dated November 21, 2003, filed November 28, 2003;

4. Claimant's Interrogatories, dated November 21, 2003, filed November 28, 2003;

5. Claimant's Notice of Motion to Compel Discovery and Inspection, dated February 3, 2004, filed February 6, 2004;

6. Affidavit of Lorenzo McGriff, in support of the motion, sworn to February 3, 2004;

7. Affirmation in Opposition of Reynolds E. Hahn, affirmed March 12, 2004, filed March 16, 2004,with attached exhibits;

8. Claimant's "Addendum" in reply to Defendant's Affirmation in Opposition, sworn to April 11, 2004, filed April 15, 2004;

9. Letter of Claimant, dated April 14, 2004, with attached exhibits;

10. Defendant's letter dated April 20, 2004, in response to Claimant's "Addendum", with attached exhibits;

11. "Claimant's Objections Striking Defendant's Response," sworn to April 27, 2004, submitted by letter dated, April 29, 2004.

Claimant, while an inmate at Wende Correctional Facility, filed a claim alleging that on April 25, 2003, he had been assaulted by a correction officer at Wyoming Correctional Facility, resulting in various physical and emotional injuries. He also alleged that Defendant had negligently violated his rights under the New York State Constitution. Claimant served his discovery demands on or about November 24, 2003, seeking 14 items of discovery and responses to 5 interrogatories. Defendant responded to all demands and interrogatories, but objected to the request for production of the personnel file of Correction Officer D. Kearney.

Civil Rights Law § 50-a (1) exempts from disclosure "[a]ll personnel records, used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion...". It is well settled that "inmate grievances would fall within the statute. They are documents containing personal, employment-related information about a public employee, namely, complaints made by inmates about the on-the-job conduct of certain correction officers..." (Matter of Prisoners' Legal Services of New York v New York State Department of Correctional Services, 73 NY2d 26, 31 [1988]). Although Claimant asserts that he seeks the records to prove his case in chief, and not to impeach Officer Kearney, his purpose in seeking the records is irrelevant. It is the nature and potential use of the information that is the focus of Civil Rights Law §50-a, "irrespective of how, at whose behest or for what purpose the information is released into the public domain." (Matter of Daily Gazette Company v City of Schenectady, 93 NY2d 145, 158 [1999]). Claimant's reliance on Matter of Beyah v Goord, 309 AD2d 1049 (2003) is misplaced. The request therein sought accident reports that were not a part of the officers' personnel files, such that the protections within Civil Rights Law § 50-a were not triggered.

Based on the above, it is

ORDERED, that Claimant's motion to compel discovery is denied.

July 9, 2004
Buffalo, New York

HON. MICHAEL E. HUDSON
Judge of the Court of Claims