New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

KOEHL v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-015-041, Claim Nos. 113876, 113877, Motion No. M-74735


Synopsis


Motion for contempt sanctions denied.

Case Information

UID:
2008-015-041
Claimant(s):
EDWARD KOEHL
Claimant short name:
KOEHL
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
113876, 113877
Motion number(s):
M-74735
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant’s attorney:
Edward Koehl, Pro Se
Defendant’s attorney:
Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General
By: Paul F. Cagino, EsquireAssistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
May 26, 2008
City:
Saratoga Springs
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)



Decision

Claimant, an inmate proceeding pro se, seeks an order holding the defendant in contempt for its purported failure to comply with a prior order of this Court compelling the production of discovery in two claims (claim nos. 113876 and 113877). By Order filed February 1, 2008 this Court granted in part and denied in part claimant’s motions to compel discovery (motion no. M-73968 relating to claim no. 113876 and motion no. M-73969 relating to claim no.113877). In opposition to this motion the defendant indicates that the discovery required to be produced pursuant to the prior Order of this Court has now been provided. In reply, the claimant does not dispute the defendant's contention but nonetheless insists sanctions are appropriate given defense counsel’s dilatory conduct.

Preliminarily it should be pointed out that the vehicle of contempt is unavailable against a party for the failure to disclose (see CPLR 3126; see also Connors, Practice Commentary, McKinney’s Cons Laws of NY, Book 7B, CPLR C3126:4). The Court will therefore treat the claimant’s motion as one for sanctions pursuant to CPLR 3126. Sanctions are appropriate where a party "refuses to obey an order for disclosure or wilfully fails to disclose information which the court finds ought to have been disclosed..." (CPLR 3126). While the nature and the degree of the sanction is a matter that rests within the court's discretion, sanctions are inappropriate absent a clear showing that the failure to comply with discovery was willful, contumacious or in bad faith (Gillen v Utica First Ins. Co., 41 AD3d 647 [2007]).

Defense counsel indicates that compliance with this Court’s Order directing disclosure was delayed “[d]ue to the number of items the claimant has requested, the number of correctional facilities that had to be contacted, and the number of searches that had to be made . . ..” Upon consideration of the relatively brief delay in providing the requested documents and the absence of willfulness, the claimant’s motion is denied.

May 26, 2008
Saratoga Springs, New York

HON. FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Judge of the Court of Claims


The Court considered the following papers:

  1. Notice of motion dated March 19, 2008;
3. Affidavit of Edward Koehl sworn to March 19, 2008 with exhibits;
  1. Letter from Edward Koehl dated April 10, 2008;
  1. Affirmation of Paul F. Cagino dated April 15, 2008;
  2. Letter from Edward Koehl dated April 17, 2008.