New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

MONTALVO v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-044-585, Claim No. 109004, Motion No. M-72899


Synopsis


Court conducted in camera review pursuant to motion to compel discovery of disciplinary history and medical records of inmate who assaulted claimant. The medical records contained no information pertinent to the claim, but portions of the disciplinary hearing record pertaining to assault were found to be relevant and were required to be disclosed, subject to a stipulation of confidentiality satisfactory to defendant (assailant had been put on notice of the motion to compel, and did not respond).

Case Information

UID:
2007-044-585
Claimant(s):
ALBERT MONTALVO
Claimant short name:
MONTALVO
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
109004
Motion number(s):
M-72899
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
CATHERINE C. SCHAEWE
Claimant’s attorney:
GARY E. DIVIS, ESQ.
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO, ATTORNEY GENERALBY: Carol A. Cocchiola, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
October 30, 2007
City:
Binghamton
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant filed this claim to recover for personal injuries allegedly received when he was attacked by Inmate Charles Jenkins while both were incarcerated at Elmira Correctional Facility. Defendant State of New York (defendant) answered and asserted various affirmative defenses. During discovery, claimant requested both the disciplinary history and the ambulatory health record of Inmate Jenkins. Defendant refused to comply with the request, and claimant made a motion to compel. Defendant opposed the motion on the ground that it was not authorized to disclose private information such as this, which is protected by Public Officers Law § 96, without a court order.

By Decision and Order dated May 10, 2007, this Court ordered production of Jenkins' medical record[1] for the date of the assault, to determine whether it contained any information which might reveal whether any request had been made to remove Jenkins' restraints prior to the assault by either a physician or physician's assistant. The Court has reviewed the medical records submitted by defendant in response to the Court's order. The record in question indicates that Jenkins was treated by a registered nurse for a hand injury, which was apparently incurred during an altercation with another inmate earlier in the day. There is no indication that either a physician or a physician's assistant was present. While disclosure of the record itself is not warranted, as it contains personal medical information pertinent to Jenkins, the treating nurse may have additional information which could be relevant to claimant's case. Accordingly, defendant is ordered to disclose to claimant's attorney the name of the nurse who treated Jenkins, together with the nurse's employment status with defendant and current location, to the extent known by defendant.

Defendant also submitted a copy of the documents pertaining to Jenkins' disciplinary hearing with regard to his assault on claimant. In order to prove his claim, claimant will have to establish one of the following: (1) that the State knew or should have known that claimant was at risk of being assaulted and yet failed to provide reasonable protection; (2) that the State knew or should have known that the assailant was prone to perpetrating such an assault and the State did not take proper precautionary measures; or (3) that the State had ample notice and opportunity to intervene but did not act (Sanchez v State of New York, 99 NY2d 247 [2002]).

In addition to information pertaining to the hearing itself, the documents indicate that the determination itself was reversed, and a rehearing ordered, because Jenkins was inappropriately denied his right to attend the entire hearing. While the determination was therefore properly ordered to be expunged from Jenkins' disciplinary history, the findings at the hearing itself may be pertinent to the issue of whether defendant knew or should have known that Jenkins was prone to perpetrating the assault. The Court consequently finds that the document entitled “Superintendent Hearing Disposition Rendered” is relevant to claimant's burden of proof, and should be disclosed pursuant to claimant's demand.

Defendant has raised safety and security concerns regarding the disclosure of Jenkins' disciplinary records to claimant, an inmate. Accordingly, the Court hereby orders that this “Superintendent Hearing Disposition Rendered” shall be disclosed only to claimant’s counsel. Claimant’s counsel shall execute a “Stipulation of Confidentiality” satisfactory to defendant's counsel prior to such disclosure by defendant, which shall provide, among other things, that the document will not be shared with claimant himself. Defendant is ordered to submit a copy of said document, together with the name, employment status and location of the treating nurse, within 20 days of execution of the Stipulation of Confidentiality.

The Chief Clerk of the Court is directed to seal and preserve Inmate Jenkins' medical record and disciplinary hearing documents provided to the Court for this in camera inspection in the event of possible appellate review.

October 30, 2007
Binghamton, New York

HON. CATHERINE C. SCHAEWE
Judge of the Court of Claims


The following papers were read on this in camera review:

1) Notice of Motion filed on January 31, 2007; Affirmation of Gary E. Divis, Esq. dated January 28, 2007 and attached exhibit.


2) Affirmation in Opposition of Carol A. Cocchiola, AAG, dated March 7, 2007.


3) Ambulatory Health Records for Charles Jenkins.

4) Disciplinary hearing documents relating to an incident involving Charles Jenkins which occurred on April 7, 2003.


Filed papers: Claim filed on March 5, 2004; Verified Answer filed on April 14, 2004.


[1]. The Court noted that Inmate Jenkins had been served with copies of the motion papers, and that he had made no response.