New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

WALTON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-044-534, Claim No. 112582


Numerous entries in inmate's disciplinary history pertaining to violent behavior and disregard of institutional rules held discoverable, although not necessarily admissible at trial, in Court's in camera review in inmate-on-inmate assault case.

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:
ANDREW F. PLASSE, P.C.BY: Andrew F. Plasse, Esq., of counsel
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Joseph F. Romani, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
May 16, 2007

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant filed this claim to recover for personal injuries allegedly received when he was assaulted by Inmate George Adorno while both were incarcerated at Elmira Correctional Facility (Elmira). Defendant State of New York (defendant) answered and asserted various affirmative defenses. During discovery, claimant requested Adorno’s inmate disciplinary history. Defendant has refused to supply the requested material, arguing that the State is not authorized to disclose this private information, which is protected by Public Officer’s Law § 96, without a court order. To expedite this matter, the parties have requested that the Court conduct an in camera review of Adorno’s disciplinary history to determine whether the material should be discoverable.

Claimant alleges that on July 20, 2005, he was confined in his cell in the Protective Custody Unit at Elmira. Claimant alleges that Adorno, who was working as a porter in the unit, had a six-foot-long ice scraper with a sharpened edge which he pushed into the cell, cutting claimant’s right eye.

In an inmate-on-inmate assault, a claimant may need access to a fellow inmate’s disciplinary record in order to establish that defendant had notice that the assault was reasonably foreseeable (see Brier v State of New York, 95 AD2d 788 [1983]; Wilson v State of New York, 36 AD2d 559 [1971]). “Reports of similar assaultive or violent behavior, and the circumstances surrounding such conduct, are therefore generally discoverable” (Serrano v State of New

Ct Cl, Dec. 28, 2006, Midey, Jr., J., Claim No. 112135, Motion No. M-71889

[UID #2006-009-080]).

The Court has reviewed Adorno’s inmate disciplinary history in camera, and finds that the entries of violent behavior (fighting, assault on staff, violent conduct and assault on inmate) which occurred on May 22, 1988, February 27, 1989, May 3, 2000, October 21, 2000, and July 20, 2005 are relevant to this claim of inmate-on-inmate assault. Further, the Court finds that the incidents of non-violent conduct (creating a disturbance, demonstration, and harassment) which occurred on July 21, 1987, July 31, 1988, January 3, 1989, June 27, 1995, and July 21, 1995, may be relevant to establishing “an overall course of conduct of non-conformity and disrespect for authority and institutional rules” (Combes v State of New York, Ct Cl, Aug. 3, 2005, Lebous, J., Claim No. 109385, Motion No. M-69902 [UID #2005-019-557]).[1] The Court notes, however, that while this information is discoverable, it is premature at this stage to determine whether such will be admissible at trial (Silva v State of New York, Ct Cl, May 30, 2003, Midey, Jr., J., Claim No. 103100, Motion No. M-65539, [UID #2003-009-18]).

Defendant has raised safety and security concerns regarding the disclosure of Adorno’s disciplinary history to claimant, a former inmate. Accordingly, the Court hereby orders that this “Inmate Disciplinary History” shall be disclosed only to claimant’s counsel. Claimant’s counsel shall execute a “Stipulation of Confidentiality” satisfactory to defendant's counsel, which shall provide, among other things, that the disciplinary history will not be shared with claimant himself.

Defendant is ordered to submit a copy of Inmate Adorno’s disciplinary history, in redacted form and within 20 days of execution of the “Stipulation of Confidentiality,” for the dates and incidents as set forth above.

The Chief Clerk of the Court is directed to seal and preserve Inmate Adorno’s unredacted disciplinary history provided to the Court for this in camera inspection in the event of possible appellate review.

May 16, 2007
Binghamton, New York
Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were read on this in camera review:

  1. Inmate Disciplinary History for George Adorno, DIN #77B1608, dated January 22, 2007.

Filed papers: Claim filed on July 31, 2006; Verified Answer filed on August 23, 2006.

[1]. The Court finds it disturbing that notwithstanding Adorno’s rather lengthy disciplinary history, he was placed in a “position of trust” as a porter in the Protective Custody Unit.