New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

LYNCH v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2008-030-528, Claim No. 113645, Motion No. M-74692


Synopsis


After in camera inspection, order directing disclosure of redacted psychiatric records of claimant’s alleged assailant, as the interests of justice significantly outweigh the need for confidentiality with regard to at least a portion of such records.

Case Information

UID:
2008-030-528
Claimant(s):
LEILA LYNCH and KEVIN LYNCH, as Co-Guardians of the person of RONALD LYNCH
Claimant short name:
LYNCH
Footnote (claimant name) :

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

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
113645
Motion number(s):
M-74692
Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Claimant’s attorney:
THE COCHRAN FIRM by
PAUL B. WEITZ & ASSOCIATES, P.C.BY: DOUGLAS A. MILCH, ESQ.
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ANDREW M. CUOMO, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: CHERYL RAMEAU, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
June 10, 2008
City:
White Plains
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)


Decision

By Interim Decision and Order of this Court filed April 22, 2008 the State has provided the Court with the psychiatric history of the patient involved in an altercation with Ronald Lynch, on whose behalf this claim has been filed, for in camera inspection. The Court directed that defendant include a complete certified copy of the alleged assailant’s psychiatric records from the date of his admission to Bronx Psychiatric Center, or any other State facility, up to and including January 17, 2003. [See Lynch v State of New York, Claim No. 113645, Motion No. M-74692, unreported decision (Scuccimarra, J., April 7, 2008)].

It is alleged in the claim that when Ronald Lynch was a patient in Bronx State Psychiatric Center, he was assaulted by a fellow patient, Christopher F., on January 17, 2003, sustaining injury. Among the theories of liability advanced is the alleged negligence of the facility in failing to protect Ronald Lynch from an assault by his fellow patient, failing to supervise, and failing to adequately train staff.

As noted in this Court’s earlier decision, when a party alleges that he was assaulted by a mental patient purportedly under State control, disclosure of reports concerning similar violent behavior may be warranted. See Baldwin v State of New York, UID # 2001-001-086, Claim No. 103154, Motion No. M-64036 (Susan Phillips Read, J., December 13, 2001). A claimant may receive his assailant’s records as they concern any prior assaultive behavior in confinement prior to the assault at issue, but is not entitled to records pertaining to the assailant’s prognosis and diagnosis. What may be disclosed is only “. . . information of a nonmedical nature relating to any prior assaults or similar violent behavior by the [alleged] assailant . . .” Sohan v Long Island College Hospital, 282 AD2d 597 (2d Dept 2001); see also Brier v State of New York, 95 AD2d 788 (2d Dept 1983). This information “shall include . . . [in addition to any reports of assaultive behavior] the number of times the patient was confined to the . . . [medical] institution and the length of each stay thereat.” Brier v State of New York, supra.

The Court has determined “. . . that the interests of justice significantly outweigh the need for confidentiality . ..” with regard to disclosure of at least a portion of the assailant’s records. See Mental Hygiene Law §33.13(c)(1); Civil Practice Law and Rules §§4504, 4507); Sohan v Long Island College Hospital, 282 AD2d 597 (2d Dept 2001); Moore v St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, 89 AD2d 618, 619 (2d Dept 1982); Mayer v Albany Med. Center Hosp., 37 AD2d 1011 (3d Dept 1971).

Accordingly, and after carefully reviewing the records provided concerning Christopher F., and after consideration of defendant’s assertion that it is “. . . rais[ing] all privileges under the Mental Health Law (sic) as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996” and the defendant’s further objections referencing specific page numbers in the records, that utilizes a key wherein the letter “A” indicates “medical, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment”; the letter “B” indicates “personal data”; the letter “C” indicates “irrelevant or so remote as to lack probative value”; and the letter “D” indicates “post incident” [see Letter to Court dated May 2, 2008 containing privilege log]; defendant is directed to provide to claimant’s attorney copies of the following pages, as redacted by the Court, that the Court finds to be material and relevant to the prosecution of this claim, inclusive of the certification page from Bronx Psychiatric Center: 1 - 9, 13, 15 -20, 25-26, 39-40, 44, 46 - 49, 59 -61, 91 - 92, 96 - 99, 105, 110, 127 -129, 133, 136, 140, 142 - 146, 148 -149, 156 -160, 162 - 171, 173-176, 178 -192, 194-196. The redacted copies are herewith provided to defendant to transmit to claimants’ counsel as indicated, at claimants’ cost, within twenty (20) days of the date of filing of this Order. It is

ORDERED that this material is confidential, and may only be used in the case before this Court, and may not be disseminated or shared with anyone except counsel for claimants and staff employed by counsel to assist in this action, any experts or advisors retained by counsel in connection with this action, and such other persons as hereafter may be agreed to by the parties in writing or as authorized by the court. A copy of the unredacted documents is being held by the court, as is a complete copy of the redacted documents, in a sealed file, pending final resolution of the claim.



June 10, 2008
White Plains, New York

HON. THOMAS H. SCUCCIMARRA
Judge of the Court of Claims