New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

JEFFERSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2007-045-011, Claim No. 109632, Motion Nos. M-72302, M-72303, CM-72486


defendant’s motion to strike interrogatories, claimant’s motion for sanctions, defendant’s cross-motion for sanctions

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):
M-72302, M-72303
Cross-motion number(s):
Claimant’s attorney:
Donnell Jefferson, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney GeneralBy: Kevin J. Acton, Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
June 28, 2007

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


The following papers were reviewed by the Court on these motions: Defendant’s Notice of Motion to Strike Interrogatories, Defendant’s Affirmation in Support of Motion to Strike Interrogatories with annexed “Attachments[1],” Claimant’s letter dated September 22, 2006, Claimant’s Affidavit in Opposition dated October 20, 2006 with annexed Exhibits, Claimant’s Notice of Motion (seeking sanctions) filed September 20, 2006, Claimant’s Affidavit with annexed Exhibit, Defendant’s Notice of Cross-Motion for Sanctions, Defendant’s Affirmation in Opposition to Claimant’s Motion for Sanctions and in Support of Defendant’s Cross-Motion for Sanctions, Claimant’s Affidavit in Opposition to Defendant’s Cross-Motion for Sanctions, the filed Claim and claimant’s interrogatories filed November 15, 2005.

Defendant, the State of New York, has brought motion, M-72302, seeking an order striking a portion of thirty interrogatories contained in a request previously served by claimant upon defendant on November 10, 2005.[2]

In response, claimant, Donnell Jefferson, filed a motion, M-72303, pursuant to CPLR §3126 seeking an order imposing penalties against defendant for failing to provide responses to the interrogatories. Defendant then submitted a cross-motion, CM-72486, pursuant to CPLR §3126 for an order imposing penalties and sanctions against claimant for his abuse of the discovery process.

The underlying facts of the subject claim occurred primarily during claimant’s incarceration at the Altona Correctional Facility from March 12, 2001 through January 30, 2002. During that time period another inmate, Louis Early, gained access to claimant’s personal information. At some point thereafter, Mr. Early submitted fraudulent documents in claimant’s name to the federal government in an attempt to obtain an illegitimate tax refund. Claimant contends, inter alia, that defendant negligently permitted Mr. Early to work at the Altona Correctional Facility despite a criminal history of convictions for robbery and fraud.

At the outset, the Court notes that claimant has withdrawn interrogatories numbered seven, fourteen, fifteen, twenty-four and twenty-five from his request for interrogatories filed November 15, 2005. Claimant also withdrew a portion of interrogatory ten from the request.

In regard to the remaining interrogatories the Court finds numbers one, two, four, eleven, thirteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-three, and twenty-eight to be palpably improper and that defendant has adequately responded to interrogatories six, eight, nine, twelve, seventeen, eighteen and thirty.

The Court finds interrogatory three to be irrelevant to the claims asserted by claimant, however, defendant did provide a list of inmates to claimant. The Court also finds interrogatories five and sixteen to be overly broad. Notwithstanding, defendant did provide claimant with certain information regarding the lack of any investigations into the subject incident by the Office of the Inspector General. Defendant also provided claimant with information regarding an investigation into tax fraud by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Claimant has withdrawn that portion of interrogatory ten which requests departmental directive 0701. Defendant has produced the remaining relevant departmental directives requested in interrogatory ten.

The Court finds defendant’s response to interrogatory twenty-two to be incomplete. Ms. Darlene Lashway, Inmate Records Coordinator at the Altona Correctional Facility, merely states that “the same procedure applies,” however she does not explain what constitutes the procedure. Thus, the Court directs defendant to expand its response to interrogatory twenty-two by outlining the procedure Ms. Lashway is referencing.

In response to interrogatory twenty-six defendant has identified Robert Georgia as Mr. Early’s parole officer. In accordance with Judge Hard’s May 3, 2005 Letter Decision and Order, defendant also provided claimant with the Department of Correctional Services crime and sentencing information regarding Mr. Early. Thus, the Court finds defendant has adequately responded to interrogatory twenty-six.

Interrogatories twenty-one and twenty-seven relate to an investigation which occurred on January 30, 2003. Claimant identifies T. Todd as the representative of the Inspector General’s Office who conducted the investigation. Defendant’s response, inter alia, is that there are no documents which relate to such an interview. Additionally, in accordance with Judge Hard’s May 3, 2005 Letter Decision and Order, defendant provided claimant with two letters from the Inspector General’s Office dated May 18, 2005 and May 20, 2005. The letters stated that the Office of the Inspector General did not have an investigative case regarding claimant in connection with an identity fraud or tax scam with Mr. Early. The letters explain that the U.S. Department of Treasury conducted an investigation and that the Treasury Department investigator was Special Agent Christopher King out of White Plains, New York. Thus, the Court finds defendant has adequately responded to interrogatories twenty-one and twenty-seven.

Claimant apparently initiated a felony complaint against Mr. Early and as a result was interviewed by New York State Police Investigator Mark D. Nell. Defendant responded to claimant’s interrogatory twenty-nine by providing the date claimant was interviewed by Investigator Nell. As the complainant, claimant clearly knows the nature of the investigation. The Court finds that claimant is not entitled to the names of those individuals interviewed by Investigator Nell but is entitled to know the status of the investigation. Thus, defendant is directed to provide claimant with the current status of the investigation.

Defendant is ordered to comply with the Court’s directives contained herein within sixty days of the date this Decision and Order is filed. The Court also finds claimant’s motion, M-72303 and defendant’s cross-motion, CM-72486 to be without merit (see 22 NYCRR 130-1.1).

Accordingly, motion M-72302 is granted in part and denied to the extent stated herein. Additionally, motion M-72303 and cross-motion CM-72486 are denied.

June 28, 2007
Hauppauge, New York

Judge of the Court of Claims

[1].Defendant separately filed copies of the “attachments” due to the voluminous nature of the documents. Copies of these documents were presented to claimant for inspection in response to claimant’s November 15, 2005 interrogatories.
[2].On April 18, 2006, the Honorable Judith A. Hard, JCC, held all discovery in this action in abeyance pending determination of defendant’s motion to dismiss. Thereafter, Judge Hard issued a Decision and Order filed on July 17, 2006 wherein she ordered defendant to respond to claimant’s interrogatories within forty-five days.