New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

COLLINS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2004-034-564, Claim No. 108990, Motion No. M-68360


Claimant's motion to compel discovery is granted, in part.

Case Information

SRI CLYDE COLLINS The caption is amended sua sponte to reflect the only proper Defendant.
Claimant short name:
Footnote (claimant name) :

Footnote (defendant name) :
The caption is amended sua sponte to reflect the only proper Defendant.
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. RAMSAY, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 7, 2004

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant filed a motion to compel discovery of various items. The Court will grant the motion, in part.

The Court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
1. Claim, verified February 26, 2004, filed March 3, 2004;
2. Answer, verified April 2, 2004, filed April 5, 2004;

3. Claimant's Notice of Discovery and Inspection, verified March 22, 2004, filed March 25, 2004;
4. Defendant's Response to Demands, dated April 14, 2004, filed April 16, 2004;

5. Claimant's Notice of Motion to Compel Discovery and Inspection, dated April 21, 2004, filed April 26, 2004;

6. Affidavit in Support of Motion to Compel Discovery and Inspection of Clyde Collins,[1] sworn to April 21, 2004, with attachments;

7. Affidavit of Mae Lee Collins, sworn to April 9, 2004, in support of the motion;

8. Affirmation in Opposition of Thomas G. Ramsay, dated May 11, 2004, filed May 13, 2004;

9. Claimant's Reply to Defendant's Affirmation in Opposition, verified May 17, 2004, filed May 20, 2004, with attachments.

Claimant has alleged that on November 16, 2003, while an inmate at Livingston Correctional Facility, Defendant wrongfully confiscated a petition his wife was circulating in the visiting room. He further alleges that he was wrongfully subjected to a disciplinary hearing, denied certain privileges, then "punitively" transferred to Orleans Correctional Facility, where he was assaulted by another inmate on December 22, 2003. Mr. Collins has sought to recover damages against the State as a result of each occurrence. On or about March 25, 2004 Claimant served a demand, wherein he sought 11 items of discovery. In response Defendant objected to the production of six items, denied the existence of three items, and agreed to produce three items upon payment of the appropriate photocopying fee. Subsequently, Claimant filed the instant motion seeking to compel discovery of Items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 and a direction that all documents be produced without cost to him. The Court will now grant Claimant's motion, in limited part.

Items 1 and 2 seek records of Michael Walton (#97A-7127), the inmate alleged to have assaulted Claimant, including incident reports, misbehavior reports, disciplinary records and medical records related to the incident on December 22, 2003. Defendant objected to production of the records except for the unusual incident report which referenced Claimant. Since Claimant has alleged that his attacker had a propensity for violence toward other inmates, Defendant's knowledge of that propensity could be relevant. The Court will order an in camera inspection of inmate Walton's complete disciplinary record (exclusive of any medical records) from Orleans Correctional Facility for a period of two years preceding the incident of December 22, 2003 (see Holmes v State of New York, 216 AD2d 529 [1995]).

Items 3 and 4 seek the names and titles of the correction officers and supervisor who were on duty December 3, 2003, as well as the name of the officer who made the cell assignment to Claimant and inmate Walton upon their arrival at Orleans Correctional Facility. Defendant objected on the ground that names are "not ‘documents and things' that can be produced for inspection as proper subjects of a Notice of Discovery and Inspection . . ." (Defendant's Affirmation in Opposition, ¶ 7). Although inartfully worded, Claimant's request is a valid subject of discovery and can easily be provided by the production of block assignment sheets or similar records for the appropriate date. Similarly, the Court will compel production of the cell assignment sheets for Claimant and Mr. Walton. To that limited extent, the Court will order production of Items 3 and 4.

Item 5 seeks a copy of all cell assignment records, policies, and regulations for Orleans Correctional Facility. Defendant objected to disclosure on several grounds, including security concerns. The Court will deny this request as overly broad and irrelevant.

Item 7 seeks the production of inmate Walton's criminal history report. Such records are generally exempt from disclosure (see Matter of Woods v Kings County Dist. Attorney's Off., 234 AD2d 554 [1996]), and Claimant has failed to demonstrate some arguable relevancy for that report. The Court will deny that request.

The balance of Claimant's motion seeks a waiver of payment for the available records. To the extent requested, poor person status is denied. Claimant's earlier application for a reduced filing fee was granted by Order (Sise, J.) filed March 15, 2004. Moreover, 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 [2003], lv denied 1 NY3d 505 [2003]).

Based on the above, it is

ORDERED, that Claimant's motion to compel discovery is granted, in part. Defendant shall produce the records set forth above within 30 days of receipt of payment of the appropriate photocopying fee; it is further

ORDERED, that Defendant is to produce the specified records for an in camera review within 45 days of the filing of this Decision and Order.

September 7, 2004
Buffalo, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1] In submissions submitted herein Claimant has variously used the names Sri Clyde Collins and Clyde Collins.