New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

RAMOS v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-030-567, Claim No. 112096, Motion Nos. M-71601, M-71780


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2006-030-567
Claimant(s):
WILLIAM RAMOS
Claimant short name:
RAMOS
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
112096
Motion number(s):
M-71601, M-71780
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Claimant’s attorney:
WILLIAM RAMOS, PRO SE
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: MARY B. KAVANEY, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 1, 2006
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following papers numbered 1 to 5 were read and considered with regard to


Claimant’s motion for discovery and inspection [M-71601] and his motion to compel same [M-


71780]:

  1. Notice of Motion Seeking Discovery and Inspection pursuant to C.P.L.R. 3120 by William Ramos, Claimant
  1. Affirmation in Opposition by Mary B. Kavaney, Assistant Attorney General and attached exhibits
  1. Letter to Mary B. Kavaney, Assistant Attorney General from William Ramos, Claimant, dated May 14, 2006
  1. Notice of Motion to Compel Discovery and Inspection Pursuant to CPLR 3124 by William Ramos, Claimant
  1. Filed papers: Claim
William Ramos alleges in Claim Number 112096 that on or about November 11, 2005[1] Defendant’s agents at Green Haven Correctional Facility used excessive force when removing him from his cell for a search, and damaged or destroyed his property. He indicates that correction Officer E. Wood and Officer J. Thompson, and a third, unidentified correction officer were the ones responsible for the alleged assault and for the destruction of his personal property. The Claim was filed in the Office of the Chief Clerk of the Court of Claims on March 17, 2006.

In his Notice of Motion Seeking Discovery and Inspection Claimant asks for the disciplinary records, any prior record of staff misconduct, prior written complaints of physical abuse and/or use of excessive force upon inmates, and any prior written complaints, with respect to Officer E. Wood, Officer J. Thompson and Officer Mrs. J. Thompson. He also seeks a copy of any cell search order form authorizing a search of his cell without the presence of a supervising officer, a copy of the watch commander’s log book entry that authorized a cell search of Claimant’s cell on December 11, 2005; copies of photographs taken of Claimant on December 11, 2005; and a copy of a misbehavior report written by Officer E. Wood relative to the December 11, 2005 incident and any disposition of same.

Defendant has produced what records are in its possession relative to a disciplinary action that led to a search of Claimant’s cell, but indicates that there is no unusual incident report or cell search form on file. [Affirmation in Opposition by Mary B. Kavaney, ¶5]. Copies of what records of disciplinary hearings and grievances it possesses have been produced and a copy is appended to the Affirmation. [ibid. Exhibit 3]. Defendant has also attached a copy of a letter dated January 17, 2006 from the Inmate Records Coordinator indicating that the aforestated documents are enclosed, and confirming that no unusual incident report or cell search form is on file. [ibid. Exhibit 2].

Defendant also indicates that it possesses copies of certified medical records that will be provided to Claimant upon payment of $21.75, representing 87 pages at $.25 per page. [ibid. ¶6].

With regard to all other items requested, Defendant opposes their production as privileged or as not discoverable.

The Court notes that if any photographs were taken of Claimant on December 11, 2005 he is entitled to copies of same. He is also entitled to log book entries for the relevant period. Defendant is directed to advise Claimant in writing with a copy to the Court whether or not any photographs were taken and, if so, is further directed to provide Claimant with the cost of copying same in the same writing within thirty (30) days of the date of filing of this Decision and Order. The existence of any log book entries and the cost of photocopying same shall be confirmed in writing within the same time frame.

Claimant’s requests concerning the personnel records and disciplinary histories of the correction officers are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Civil Rights Law §50-a(1). [See also Public Officers Law §96]. Civil Rights Law §50-a requires that an interested party - here, the correction officers - be given an opportunity to be heard. Moreover, Claimant has simply not established a factual basis sufficient to order the production of the personnel files that might contain such information, and, accordingly, this request is denied. The Court notes that such production would be for in camera inspection by the Court in any event, upon a proper showing of materiality and relevance. As noted by one court considering this first step in considering disclosure, “. . . [Claimant must] make a good faith showing of facts which make it reasonably likely that the file will contain information bearing on the merits of the action, and that [the] request is not merely a desperate grasping at a straw . . . (citation omitted).” Wunsch v City of Rochester, 108 Misc 2d 854, 857 (Sup Ct, Monroe County, 1981).

Claimant’s motion to compel discovery [M-71780], submitted while the initial motion for discovery [M-71601] was still pending, essentially reiterates the same requests concerning the personnel records, and provides some tangential legal authority that is not persuasive.

Accordingly, Claimant’s motion for discovery [M-71601] is denied in part and granted in part as set forth above. Claimant’s motion to compel [M-71780] is in all respects denied.

September 1, 2006
White Plains, New York

HON. THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]. Elsewhere in the claim he asserts a date of accrual of December 11, 2005. [Claim Number 112096, ¶10].