New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BROWN v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2005-033-106, Claim No. 107964, Motion No. M-69368


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):

James J. Lack
Claimant’s attorney:
Isaiah Brown, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Eliot Spitzer, New York State Attorney GeneralBy: Saul Aronson, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
March 23, 2005

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


This claim is brought by Isaiah Brown (hereinafter “claimant”) for negligence by the State of New York (hereinafter “State”) in allegedly losing his property and for defamation by an employee of the State. Claimant is an inmate in Otisville Correctional Facility, Otisville, New York.

Claimant previously moved this Court for an order seeking to compel defendant to comply with claimant’s discovery requests (M-68428 and M-68484). Pursuant to a decision and order filed October 25, 2004, the Court reviewed the objections the defendant made to claimant’s discovery requests. The Court sustained the objections raised to claimant’s requests or ruled that the defendant’s response was adequate.

Pursuant to CPLR 2221, claimant seeks to reargue the Court’s decision[1]. Claimant argues that no objection was made by the defendant to claimant’s paragraph 21 of his discovery request. Since no objection was made by the defendant, the Court made no ruling as to the propriety of the request. Claimant argues that the Court should permit reargument and order defendant to comply with the request.

The Court grants claimant’s motion to reargue the propriety of paragraph 21 of the discovery request. This request demands that defendant give claimant “[e]ach and every complaint/grievance filed by an inmate against Squires in the four years preceding April 5, 2003" (claimant’s Exhibit A).

The Court denies this request as improper.

Civil Rights Law §50-a gives great protection to files of correction officers, among others. The statute was designed to prevent unwarranted fishing expeditions into personnel folders ( Becker v City of New York, 162 AD2d 488; see also, People v Gissendanner, 48 NY2d 543). The records of a correction officer may be disclosed after an in camera review of them. However, there is a procedure that must be followed before the Court can order the in camera review of the documents. In relevant part, it states:
1. All personnel records, used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion, under the control of any police agency or department of the state or any political subdivision thereof including authorities or agencies maintaining police forces of individuals defined as police officers in section 1.20 of the criminal procedure law and such personnel records under the control of a sheriff's department or a department of correction of individuals employed as correction officers . . . shall be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without the express written consent of such police officer . . . except as may be mandated by lawful court order.

2. Prior to issuing such court order the judge must review all such requests and give interested parties the opportunity to be heard. No such order shall issue without a clear showing of facts sufficient to warrant the judge to request records for review.

3. If, after such hearing, the judge concludes there is a sufficient basis he shall sign an order requiring that the personnel records in question be sealed and sent directly to him. He shall then review the file and make a determination as to whether the records are relevant and material in the action before him. Upon such a finding the court shall make those parts of the record found to be relevant and material available to the persons so requesting.

Claimant makes no showing that he seeks these records for anything but a fishing expedition. No evidence is put forth which would initiate the procedures in Civil Rights Law §50-a to obtain the records contained in the personnel folder of the State’s employee.
Accordingly, claimant’s motion to reargue is granted. However, his request to compel defendant to supply records pursuant to paragraph 21 of claimant’s discovery demand is denied.
March 23, 2005
Hauppauge, New York
Judge of the Court of Claims

[1].The following papers have been read and considered on claimant’s motion: Notice of Motion for Leave to Reargue dated November 1, 2004 and filed November 10, 2004; Affidavit in Support of Motion to Reargue of Isaiah Brown with annexed Exhibits A-D sworn to November 1, 2004 and filed November 10, 2004; Affirmation in Opposition of Saul Aronson, Esq. dated December 3, 2004 and filed December 7, 2004; Reply Affidavit of Isaiah Brown sworn to December 8, 2004 and filed December 13, 2004.