New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RODRIGUEZ v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-009-063, Claim No. 107936, Motion No. M-70419


Synopsis


An in camera review was ordered for certain documents requested by claimant in his disclosure demands.

Case Information

UID:
2005-009-063
Claimant(s):
PAULINO RODRIGUEZ
Claimant short name:
RODRIGUEZ
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
107936
Motion number(s):
M-70419
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
NICHOLAS V. MIDEY JR.
Claimant's attorney:
PAULINO RODRIGUEZ, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
Attorney General
BY: G. Lawrence Dillon, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney GeneralOf Counsel.
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
December 13, 2005
City:
Syracuse
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

Claimant has brought this motion seeking an order compelling disclosure.

The following papers were considered by the Court in connection with this motion:
Notice of Motion, Affidavit in Support, with Attachment 1,2


Defendant's Response, with Attachments 3

In his claim, claimant seeks damages for personal injuries allegedly suffered by him on June 17, 2002 when he was assaulted by another patient while confined at the Central New York Psychiatric Center. Claimant also seeks damages based upon allegations of negligence and/or medical malpractice in the medical treatment received by him following this assault.

Claimant now seeks disclosure of documents and information requested in his "Notice of Demand for Disclosure" dated December 29, 2003 (see Attachment to Items 1,2; see also Exhibit C to Item 3). Claimant is unsatisfied with the Reply made by the defendant to this demand (see Exhibit D to Item 3), as well as a Second Reply made by the defendant to the same demand (see Exhibit F to Item 3). Since virtually every demand is at issue, the Court will address each item seriatim:

DEMANDS 1-5: Identity of "Medical Experts".

In these five demands, claimant seeks the name of "medical experts" who treated claimant at various times on June 17, 2002. The names of these individuals can be determined by claimant through an examination of his medical records, which may be obtained directly by claimant from the Medical Records Office of the facility. Defendant therefore need not comply with these five demands.

DEMAND 6: Qualifications of Each Expert.

In this demand, claimant seeks the qualifications of each "medical expert" referenced in the five previous demands, much in the way of expert witness disclosure. In light of the Court's determination that defendant need not produce the names of those "medical experts", this request has been rendered moot, and defendant need not comply.

DEMAND 7: Names of All Patients Housed in Claimant's Ward on June 17, 2002.

This demand is overly broad and is palpably improper (Haller v North Riverside Partners, 189 AD2d 615). Defendant need not comply with this demand.

DEMANDS 8-9: Names, Titles, and Certifications of All Employees Working in Claimant's Ward on June 17, 2002, and Records of Misconduct/Negligence Pertaining to Such Employees.

These demands are similarly overbroad, and might possibly require the disclosure of privileged material under Civil Rights Law § 50-a. Defendant therefore need not respond to these demands.

DEMAND 10: "All Known Rules and Regulations" Pertaining to an Alleged Assault at Central New York Psychiatric Center.

This demand is clearly overly broad, and also places an unnecessary burden upon the defendant, and is therefore palpably improper (Haller v North Riverside Partners, supra). Defendant does not have to comply with this demand.

DEMANDS 11-13: Civil Service Investigation, Investigation Review Results, and Reports by Area Supervisors and/or Counselors Regarding the Alleged Assault of June 17, 2002.

In these three demands, claimant seeks the production of particular investigation reports pertaining to the incident of June 17, 2002, which forms the basis of this claim. These demands are certainly relevant to this claim, and could potentially lead to admissible evidence. These records and reports, therefore, should be produced by the defendant.

Defendant, however, also contends that security protocols and procedures at the facility could be compromised by the disclosure of this information. Accordingly, the Court hereby determines that an in camera inspection of these reports is appropriate to determine what material, if any, contained therein should not be disclosed. To facilitate its review, defendant is directed to submit to the Court two copies of each report, a redacted copy indicating the information it seeks to protect from disclosure (and the reasons therefore) and an unredacted copy. These submissions shall be made within 45 days of the date of the filing of this decision and order. Upon completing its review of these documents, the Court will then issue further directions indicating what portion of the documents in question should be disclosed to claimant.

DEMAND 14: All Medical Records.

Claimant may obtain a copy of his medical records upon request to the Medical Records Office of the facility, accompanied by payment of the photocopy expense fee. Defendant, therefore, need not comply with this demand.

DEMAND 15: Photographic Reproductions of Claimant Following the Second Attack on June 17, 2002.

Defendant has affirmatively stated in its initial response to this demand that no photographs exist.

DEMAND 16: Incident Reports of All Violent Attacks Committed on Claimant and on Individual Wards at the Facility.

This demand is patently overbroad and unduly burdensome, and also compromises security concerns at the facility, and defendant therefore need not provide a response.

DEMAND 17: Video Tape Recordings of the Incidents and/or Treatment Provided to Claimant on June 17, 2002.

Defendant has affirmatively stated in its initial response to this demand that no videos exist. DEMAND 18: All Logbook Entries Following the Attacks on Claimant on June 17, 2002.

This demand, limited in scope to the two alleged assaults against claimant occurring on June 17, 2002, may lead to relevant and admissible evidence, and should be produced. Since defendant has also raised the issue of security concerns with respect to this demand, the Court will also conduct an in camera review of these items as well, following the same procedure outlined above for Demands 11-13. Defendant is hereby directed to submit two copies of these entries (a redacted copy and an unredacted copy) to the Court within 45 days of the date of filing of this decision and order.

Accordingly, based upon the foregoing, it is

ORDERED, that Motion No. M-70419 is hereby GRANTED, in part, and defendant is directed to produce, for in camera review, the documents and items sought by claimant in his "Notice of Demand for Disclosure" dated December 29, 2003, and identified as Demand Nos. 11, 12, 13, and 18; and it is further

ORDERED, that following a review of these documents and items, the Court will determine what portions, if any, are subject to disclosure and will issue further directions accordingly; and it is further

ORDERED, that in all other aspects, Motion No. M-70419 is hereby DENIED.

December 13, 2005
Syracuse, New York

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