New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

BYRD v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-037-010, Claim No. 111959, Motion No. M-72647


Synopsis



Case Information

UID:
2007-037-010
Claimant(s):
GARY BYRD, JR., 00-A-7197
Claimant short name:
BYRD
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
111959
Motion number(s):
M-72647
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
JEREMIAH J. MORIARTY III
Claimant’s attorney:
Gary Byrd, Jr., Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
New York State Attorney General
By: William D. Lonergan, Esq.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
February 7, 2007
City:
Buffalo
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

The following documents were read and considered with respect to Claimant’s motion to compel discovery:

1. Notice of motion and affidavit of pro se Claimant Gary Byrd, Jr. sworn to November

4, 2006, with annexed Exhibits A-E;

2. Opposing affidavit of Assistant Attorney General William D. Lonergan sworn to

December 11, 2006, with annexed Exhibit A.


Filed papers: Claim filed February 8, 2006; Answer filed March 7, 2006; Defendant’s Response to Claimant’s Discovery Demands filed May 2, 2006; and Claimant’s Reply to Defendant’s Response to Claimant’s Discovery Demands filed May 25, 2006.


This is an action for personal injuries arising out of an incident which occurred on August 8, 2005, when the Claimant allegedly slipped and fell in the unit mess hall at Gowanda Correctional Facility (Gowanda) where he was incarcerated, spilling on himself the pan of hot vegetables he was carrying. As a result, Claimant sustained burns on his left arm, stomach and back, back strains, and discoloration of the skin on his arm, stomach and back.

In April of 2006, Claimant served Defendant with a request for the production of documents (Defendant’s Exhibit A).[1] Defendant’s response (Claimant’s Exhibit B) was filed on May 2, 2006. In response, Defendant produced certain documents and generally objected to Claimant’s demands as being overly broad and burdensome. Claimant replied to Defendant’s response by stating that his demands were not overly broad or burdensome (Claimant’s Exhibit C). A series of correspondence then ensued between the parties with Claimant demanding further responses, Defendant suggesting that Claimant address its objections, and Claimant alleging that he had “revised his demand in more of a specific time frame” (see Claimant’s Exhibits D and E).[2] Claimant now moves the Court for an order compelling further responses to his April 25, 2006 discovery demand.

The Court has broad discretion in controlling the discovery process and is guided by the test of “usefulness and reason” (see McMahon v Aviette Agency, Inc., 301 AD2d 820, 821 [2003]). Utilizing these guiding principles, the Court will review each of Claimant’s demands.

Initially, the Court notes that Defendant has provided Claimant with a copy of the documents requested in demand # 7. No further response to this demand is necessary. Similarly, no further response to Claimant’s demands # # 3, 4 and 5 is necessary. These demands seem to request copies of grievances, complaints, memorandums and other documents regarding training of officers or physical injuries that occurred at Gowanda. The Court agrees with Defendant that these demands are overly broad and burdensome and in no way seek relevant information.

With respect to Claimant’s demands # # 6 and 8, however, it is difficult to understand what documents Claimant is seeking. Assuming that Claimant is seeking a complete copy of his medical records, then it should be noted that Claimant was injured on August 8, 2005, and that copies of relevant portions of his ambulatory health records were attached to the claim as filed, evidencing the fact that Claimant had copies of a portion of his medical records in February of 2006 when he filed his claim. The court will not deny Claimant, however, access to his medical records, with the understanding that medical records unrelated to Claimant’s alleged injuries of August 8, 2005 will not be admissible at trial and with the further understanding that Defendant is permitted to charge a reasonable fee, usually $.25 per page, for providing these records (see Williams v State of New York, Ct Cl, November 1, 2004, Collins, J., Claim No. 108324, Motion No. M-68918, UID # 2004-015-439).[3] At this point, Defendant need do nothing further. Claimant, however, should advise Defendant as to the dates of the medical records he wishes and/or if he wishes a copy of all of his medical records. When Claimant has isolated and itemized the medical records he wants, Defendant will advise Claimant as to the number of pages involved and the cost of providing those records. Defendant will provide Claimant with copies of the medical records demanded after Defendant receives payment of the reasonable fee requested.

Insofar as Claimant’s demands # # 6 and 8 can be interpreted as requesting copies of his medical records from any outside facilities or from specialists or other medical providers not affiliated or employed by the State of New York, then Claimant must once again advise Defendant exactly what records he is seeking. Once Claimant has isolated and relayed to Defendant the medical records from outside facilities or doctors, then Defendant is to advise Claimant if it is in possession of any of the requested material and the reasonable cost of providing copies to Claimant. If Defendant is not in possession of these records, then Claimant should seek this information directly from the outside facilities and doctors (see Harrison v State of New York, Ct Cl, February 17, 2006, Marin, J., Claim No. 109913, Motion No. M-70942, UID # 2006-016-011).

Demands # # 1 and 2, however, seem to be requesting information which may be relevant and necessary to the prosecution of this claim. The problem with these demands is that they seek information over an overly broad time period of more than twelve years and even seek information after the subject incident occurred. The Court will, therefore, limit the breadth of these two demands to a period from August of 2003 through August 8, 2005, the date of the incident. With this time limitation, Defendant is to provide Claimant with further responses to demands # # 1 and 2.

Accordingly, Claimant’s motion to compel discovery M-72647 is granted in part and denied in part as set forth above.



February 7, 2007
Buffalo, New York

HON. JEREMIAH J. MORIARTY III
Judge of the Court of Claims




[1]. Claimant states in his affidavit that a copy of his April 25, 2006 discovery demand is attached to his motion papers as Exhibit A. No copy was attached to the papers filed with the Clerk of the Court. A copy of this demand is, however, annexed to Defendant’s papers as Exhibit A.
[2]. Defendant alleges that Claimant never revised his discovery demands and no document or correspondence which could be construed as limiting Claimant’s original demand was annexed to either party’s moving papers or could be located in the claim file.
[3]. This and other unreported Court of Claims decisions may be found on the Court’s website at www.nyscourtofclaims.state.ny.us.