New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

JNBAPTISTE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-009-062, Claim No. 107565, Motion No. M-70506


Synopsis


Summary judgment on the issue of liability with regard to two causes of action of medical malpractice was granted. The disclosure of certain documents was also addressed.

Case Information

UID:
2005-009-062
Claimant(s):
SAMANTHA JNBAPTISTE, as Administratrix of the Estate of PAUL ANTHONY MALCOLM
Claimant short name:
JNBAPTISTE
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
107565
Motion number(s):
M-70506
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.
Claimant's attorney:
BALL & RUBIN, LLP
BY: Wayne M. Rubin, Esq.,Of Counsel.
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General
BY: Edward F. McArdle, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 21, 2005
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant has brought this motion seeking an order granting her partial summary judgment, as well as for an order compelling the defendant to produce certain specified items previously requested.

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:
Notice of Motion, Good-Faith Affirmation, Affirmation in Support, with Exhibits (including physician affidavit of Gabriele Blumberg, M.D. as Exhibit C) 1,2,3


Memorandum of Law in Support 4


Affirmation in Opposition 5

Reply Affirmation 6

Claimant is the Administratrix of the Estate of Paul Anthony Malcolm, an inmate who died at Auburn Correctional Facility on May 2, 2001, following an asthma attack. In her amended claim, claimant has asserted three separate causes of action. The first cause of action seeks damages for pain and suffering allegedly suffered by Mr. Malcolm when he was exposed to a chemical agent (pepper spray) on April 29, 2001. The second and third causes of action allege medical malpractice against the State, seeking to recover money damages for the pain and suffering and wrongful death of Mr. Malcolm, following an asthma attack on May 2, 2001. In this motion, claimant seeks an order granting her summary judgment as to liability on the medical malpractice causes of action (the second and third causes of action).[1]

In its opposition to this motion, the defendant has not taken any issue with the medical affidavit of Dr. Blumberg submitted with claimant's motion. Defendant has therefore not opposed that part of claimant's motion seeking partial summary judgment as to liability on the two medical malpractice causes of action.

The Court has reviewed the medical affidavit of Dr. Blumberg, as well as the other medical records and evidence submitted by claimant herein, and finds that claimant has made a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law (Winegrad v New York University Medical Center, 64 NY2d 851). Since defendant admittedly has not raised any triable issue of fact, the Court finds that claimant has established her entitlement to summary judgment, as to liability only, on the medical malpractice causes of action.

Additionally, and as mentioned at the outset of this decision and order, claimant has also sought disclosure of certain specifically enumerated items, contending that these items are relevant and material to either the first cause of action (exposure to a chemical agent) and/or the issue of damages.

The Court will address these items in the order presented in claimant's motion:

(1) An Unredacted Copy of the Final Report of the New York State Commission of Correction

Claimant has previously been provided with a redacted copy of this Final Report, but now seeks an unredacted copy. The parties agree that the redacted portion of the report provides details of decedent's medical condition, information which could be relevant with respect to the issue of damages. Since claimant is Mr. Malcolm's duly appointed estate representative, and since medical releases have been provided (as attested to by claimant's attorney), claimant is entitled to an un-redacted copy of this final report, and defendant is hereby directed to provide such report in accordance with this decision and order.

(2) Report of the Medical Review Board

In response to this demand, defendant's attorney advises that he has been informed by the Commission of Correction that the Report of the Medical Review Board is actually the same document as the Final Report of the Commission of Correction (see No. 1 above). Claimant's counsel contends that references to the Report of the Medical Review Board appear to indicate that this report is a separate and distinct report from the Final Report of the New York State Commission of Correction.

Therefore, in order to eliminate any question, defendant is hereby directed to provide an affidavit from a knowledgeable person within the Commission of Correction that these documents in question are actually one and the same. If, however, there is a separate and distinct Report of the Medical Review Board, the Court hereby directs the defendant to produce said document (Kozlowski v City of Amsterdam, 111 AD2d 476).

(3) The File of the Inspector General's Office

Disclosure of an investigation file compiled by the Inspector General is subject to the public interest privilege, which balances whether "the State's interest in maintaining the integrity of its internal investigations and protecting the confidentiality of sources who provide sensitive information within a prison context, outweighs any interest of the claimant in seeking access to the file" (Lowrance v State of New York, 185 AD2d 268, 269).

In this particular matter, given the fact that the Court has awarded claimant summary judgment as to liability on her medical malpractice causes of action, disclosure of the Inspector General's investigatory file would provide little, if any, relevant information as to the issue of damages. The Court therefore finds that the State's interest in maintaining the integrity of its internal investigations into a highly secure area within a maximum security prison outweighs claimant's interest in disclosure of this file. As such, the State need not produce the investigatory file maintained by the Inspector General pertaining to this incident.

(4) Memorandum of Superintendent of Security, dated October 22, 1998

This memorandum purportedly addresses procedures for the use of chemical agents within prison facilities. Since the issue of liability remains open as to the exposure of decedent to a chemical agent on April 29, 2001, this memorandum may provide relevant and material information and must be disclosed. Defendant, at its option, may condition such disclosure upon the execution of an appropriate "stipulation of confidentiality" by claimant's counsel.

(5) The full name, social security number, last known address and personnel file of Nurse P. Haley

Since the Court has herein granted claimant's application for partial summary judgment as to the issue of liability on the medical malpractice causes of action, claimant has withdrawn this request.

Based on the foregoing, therefore, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-70506 is hereby GRANTED, in part; and it is further

ORDERED, that the Clerk of the Court of Claims is directed to enter an interlocutory judgment on the issue of liability in favor of claimant on the second and third causes of action based upon medical malpractice, in accordance with this decision and order; and it is further

ORDERED, that any disclosure required to be made by defendant pursuant to this decision and order shall be made within 45 days of the date of filing of this decision and order with the Clerk of the Court; and it is further

ORDERED, that all discovery shall be completed on or before May 1, 2006 and that a note of issue and certificate of readiness shall be served and filed on or before June 1, 2006.

December 21, 2005
Syracuse, New York

HON. NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1] Claimant has made no representation that the exposure to the chemical agent on April 29, 2001 triggered the asthma attack which occurred on May 2, 2001, and no medical evidence has been presented on this application to suggest any such connection.