New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WIGFALL v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-019-500, Claim No. 106859, Motion No. M-69356


Claimant's second motion for sanctions is denied.

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:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Carol A. Cocchiola, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
January 11, 2005

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se, moves for the second time for sanctions against the Office of the Attorney General in relation to discovery matters. (CPLR 3126). The State of New York (hereinafter "State") opposes the motion.

This claim arises from claimant's allegations that he was prevented from wearing his prescription sunglasses inside Elmira Correctional Facility despite a medical permit to do so. Claimant previously filed a motion in which he sought sanctions against the Office of the Attorney General for allegedly threatening the filing of a dispositive motion against him if he failed to sign and return a medical authorization form.[1] Claimant also requested his signed medical authorization form be returned to him. This court denied claimant's request for sanctions finding the State's conduct did not amount to a threat nor rise to the level of conduct warranting sanctions. (Wigfall v State of New York, Ct Cl, June 21, 2004, Lebous, J., Claim No. 106859, Motion Nos. M-68037 & M-68394, pp 4-5 [ UID No. 2004-019-550]).[2]

With respect to the medical authorization form itself, as part of the prior motion, the State represented that it would await further instruction on how to proceed prior to obtaining claimant's medical records with said authorization form. (Wigfall, Motion Nos. M-68037 & M-68394, p 4). Obviously, this statement left both the court and claimant with the impression that the State had not yet obtained claimant's medical records by using, the now disputed, medical authorization form. By way of this motion, claimant contends that the State had already obtained his medical records at the time it made the aforesaid representation to the court. Claimant argues that since that representation has now been proven false that sanctions should be levied against the Office of the Attorney General. For its part, the State candidly concedes that it has since uncovered that the assistant attorney general in charge of the case at the time was unaware that a State investigator had already obtained claimant's medical records with the use of the medical authorization form at the time of the prior motion.

In this court's view, there is no basis for sanctions against the Office of the Attorney General. Although there may have well been some confusion in the Office of the Attorney General leading to the misrepresentation in connection with the prior motion such does not rise to the level of an alleged conspiracy as alleged by claimant or, more to the point, "willful", "contumacious", or bad faith conduct so as to warrant sanctions under CPLR 3126. (Fitterer v Gus Riedlinger's Towing Serv., 271 AD2d 403, 404).

Finally, the parties have made various requests in connection with recent discovery demands from claimant. For instance, claimant requested that the court direct the State's responses be "expediently completed." (Claimant's Affidavit, ¶ 10). The State has requested the court authorize the release of claimant's medical records pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 3 of claimant's most recent demand. However, since neither party submitted claimant's discovery demands with their papers herein, the court declines to address any discovery issue. In any event, the parties are instructed to attempt to resolve this and future discovery disputes without the need for further court intervention.

Accordingly, in view of the foregoing, it is ORDERED that Motion No. M-69356 is DENIED in accordance with the foregoing.

January 11, 2005
Binghamton, New York
Judge of the Court of Claims

The court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. DECISION AND ORDER, Lebous, J., filed July 7, 2004.
  2. Notice of Motion No. M-69356, dated October 27, 2004, and filed November 4, 2004.
  3. Affidavit of Joseph Wigfall, in support of motion, dated October 27, 2004, with attached exhibits.
  4. Affirmation of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated December 6, 2004, and filed December 8, 2004, with attached exhibit.
  5. Affirmation of James E. Shoemaker, Esq., former AAG, in opposition to motion, dated December 9, 2004, and filed December 13, 2004.
  6. "Reply Answer to Affirmation in Opposition", of Joseph Wigfall, in support of motion, dated December 17, 2004, and filed December 22, 2004.

[1]The State now represents that further investigation has revealed that claimant returned the medical authorization form with a letter dated March 22, 2004 which pre-dated the letter from the State dated March 24, 2004 which contained the alleged threat. (Affirmation of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, ¶ 3). Obviously, such timing casts doubts on claimant's version of events that he was "threatened" into signing the medical authorization form.
[2]Selected unreported decisions from the Court of Claims are available via the Internet at