New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BOATWRIGHT v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-019-564, Claim No. 107672, Motion No. M-70499


Synopsis


Claimants' motion for an order compelling disclosure upon an in camera inspection is granted in part and denied in part.

Case Information

UID:
2005-019-564
Claimant(s):
JAVON BOATWRIGHT
Claimant short name:
BOATWRIGHT
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
107672
Motion number(s):
M-70499
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Claimant's attorney:
JAVON BOATWRIGHT, PRO SE
Defendant's attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Carol A. Cocchiola, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel
Third-party defendant's attorney:

Signature date:
September 7, 2005
City:
Binghamton
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant moves for an order compelling the defendant to respond to his prior discovery demands. The State of New York (hereinafter "State") opposes the motion and has simultaneously submitted the documents requested by claimant for an in camera inspection.

This claim arose when claimant was physically assaulted by another inmate in a stairwell while going to an exercise area at Southport Correctional Facility on March 27, 2003. The theory of liability asserted in this claim is one of negligent supervision, namely that the State failed to protect claimant and knew or should have known that claimant was at risk and/or that the attacker, inmate Mason Karriem, had violent propensities.


A brief review of the prior motion practice in this case is warranted. Claimant previously moved for an order compelling a response to a discovery demand dated June 16, 2003 pursuant to CPLR 3124. In a Decision and Order dated February 25, 2004, this court directed the State to submit the documents at issue for an in camera inspection. (Boatwright v State of New York, Ct Cl, February 25, 2004, Lebous, J., Claim No. 107672, Motion No. M-67961 [UID No. 2004-019-523]).[1] More specifically, the court directed the State to submit "[i]nmate Karriem's disciplinary history including violent misbehavior reports, if any...." (Id. at p 3; emphasis added). In response to the court's direction to submit the violent misbehavior reports, if any, for the ten disciplinary incidents listed on inmate Karriem's disciplinary history, the State submitted only one set of such documents, namely an inmate misbehavior report, an unusual incident report and related memorandum pertaining to an April 10, 1999 incident. Ultimately, the court directed the State to provide to claimant, in unredacted form, inmate Karriem's disciplinary history (including nine out of the ten disciplinary incidents listed thereon dated November 9, 1998; January 8, 1999; April 10, 1999; September 30, 2000; October 27, 2000; February 14, 2001; February 15, 2001; and March 27, 2003[this incident]), as well as the corresponding documents for the violent incident of April 10, 1999.[2]


Now by way of this motion, claimant requests "[a]ll violent misbehavior reports on inmate Karriem" and the corresponding unusual incident reports for the rest of the dates cited above other than April 10, 1999, which was already provided. (Claimant's motion to compel). In anticipation of this court's practice, the State has submitted the requested documents for an in camera review along with its opposing papers.[3] More particularly, the State has submitted an inmate misbehavior report for the incidents occurring on November 9, 1998; January 8, 1999; September 30, 2000; October 27, 2000; February 14, 2001; and February 15, 2001; as well as unusual incident reports for the November 9, 1998; September 30, 2000; and February 15, 2001 incidents.[4] The State does not strenuously deny the relevance of any of these documents.


A review of these documents reveals that the incidents of November 9, 1998, September 30, 2000, October 27, 2000, and February 15, 2001 involve either actual assaults on correction officers or threatening or violent conduct toward officers. Obviously these documents involving violent conduct are material and relevant and should be disclosed to claimant. The incidents of January 8, 1999 and February 14, 2001 are non-violent in nature but involve inmate Karriem's failure to obey orders from correction officers. The court finds that these non-violent incidents are potentially indicative of an overall course of conduct of non-conformity and disrespect for authority and institutional rules by inmate Karriem. Accordingly, the court finds that to redact the non-violent entries pre-dating this incident would be to exclude the possibility of a finding that inmate Karriem's behavior, both violent and non-violent, was of an escalating pattern. That having been said, however, the court notes that the disclosure of these non-violent incidents is not to say that these incidents will be admissible at trial, only that at this stage this court cannot exclude any of these prior non-violent incidents as irrelevant. (Silva v State of New York, Ct Cl, May 30, 2003, Midey, Jr., J., Claim No. 103100, Motion No. M-65539 [UID No. 2003-009-18]). As such, the court finds that the inmate misbehavior reports for the November 9, 1998; January 8, 1999; September 30, 2000; October 27, 2000; February 14, 2001; and February 15, 2001 incidents, as well as the unusual incident reports for the November 9, 1998; September 30, 2000; and February 15, 2001 are material and relevant on the issue of notice to the State of inmate Karriem's violent propensities and should be disclosed. Further, the court accepts the proposed redactions by the State which are minimal and relate only to medical information regarding inmate Karriem and/or personal information regarding the correction officers.


Finally, claimant also seeks an order directing the State to provide the number of total incidents of violent attacks on staircases inside Southport, as well as the corresponding log book entries. The State has represented that such information does not exist. As such, the court cannot compel the State to produce information that does not exist.


The Chief Clerk of the Court is directed to seal and preserve both sets of documents (redacted and unredacted) provided to the court for this in camera inspection in the event of possible appellate review.


Accordingly, in view of the foregoing, it is ORDERED that claimant's motion, No. M-70499, is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART in accordance with the foregoing. The State is directed to provide the aforementioned discovery documents to claimant within 45 days of the date of filing of this Decision & Order.


September 7, 2005
Binghamton, New York

HON. FERRIS D. LEBOUS
Judge of the Court of Claims


The court has considered the following papers in connection with this motion:
  1. DECISION AND ORDER, Lebous, J., Claim No. 107672, Motion No. M-67961, filed March 19, 2004.
  2. DECISION AND ORDER, Lebous, J., Claim No. 107672, Motion No. M-67961, filed June 21, 2004.
  3. "Claimants [sic] Motion to Compel Disclosure", Motion No. M-70499, dated July 1, 2005, and filed July 14, 2005.
  4. Affirmation of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, in opposition to motion, dated August 29, 2005, and filed August 31, 2005.
  5. Redacted and Unredacted documents submitted by the State for in camera review.

[1]Selected unreported decisions from the Court of Claims are available via the Internet at
[2]The only incident excluded was an incident occurring on August 27, 2003 which post-dated this incident.
[3]Again, consistent with prior practice, the State has submitted the discovery documents in the usual manner directed, namely one copy in unredacted form and the second copy redacted in a manner which the State believes presents information relevant to this claim while removing privileged or irrelevant information.
[4]The court is somewhat perplexed why these additional misbehavior reports were not submitted by the State in response to this court's prior Decision & Order directing the submission of the corresponding violent misbehavior reports listed in inmate Karriem's disciplinary history.