New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
SPENCER v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-041-012, Claim No. 129331, Motion No. M-91362


Inmate/claimant's motion to compel discovery of documents and answers to interrogatories is denied in part and granted in part.

Case information

UID: 2018-041-012
Claimant(s): JONATHAN SPENCER #10-A-4124
Claimant short name: SPENCER
Footnote (claimant name) :
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 129331
Motion number(s): M-91362
Cross-motion number(s):
Claimant's attorney: JONATHAN SPENCER
Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
New York State Attorney General
By: Joan Matalavage, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: January 31, 2018
City: Albany
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)


Claimant moves for an "Order to Compel Disclosure pursuant to C.P.L.R. 3124." Defendant opposes the claimant's motion by providing a response to claimant's notice for discovery and inspection and answers to the claimant's interrogatories. In reply, claimant argues that defendant has not adequately responded to either claimant's notice for discovery and inspection or to the claimant's interrogatories.

The Court has "broad discretion in managing disclosure, and absent an abuse of discretion or unreasonable interference with the disclosure of relevant and necessary material," that discretion will not be disturbed (Czarnecki v Welch, 23 AD3d 914, 915 [3d Dept 2005]).

It is equally clear that "[w]hile disclosure provisions are to be liberally construed, the trial court is vested with broad discretion to supervise discovery and determine what is 'material and necessary' under CPLR 3101 (a)" (Mora v RGB, Inc., 17 AD3d 849, 851 [3d Dept 2005]).

The standard of materiality is "one of usefulness and reason," with the goal of "sharpening the issues and reducing delay and prolixity" (Allen v Crowell-Collier Publ. Co., 21 NY2d 403, 406 [1968]).

With respect to the defendant's response to claimant's notice for discovery and inspection, the Court notes that defendant has responded to requests numbered "4," "5," "6," "7," and "8" by stating that "the document has not been located by staff at Clinton Correctional Facility. Defendant will continue to search for the same."

The Court cannot compel defendant to produce documents which allegedly exist and are allegedly relevant to the claim but have "not been located." Defendant is reminded of its obligation, pursuant to CPLR 3101 (h) to:

"[A]mend or supplement a response previously given to a request for disclosure promptly upon the party's thereafter obtaining information that the response was incorrect or incomplete when made, or that the response, though correct and complete when made, no longer is correct and complete, and the circumstances are such that a failure to amend or supplement the response would be materially misleading."

Should these allegedly relevant documents remain missing, claimant may pursue his remedies, if any, pursuant to CPLR 3126.

The Court has carefully reviewed the claimant's interrogatories and the defendant's response to claimant's interrogatories.

The claimant's interrogatories contain numerous improper demands for legal opinions and conclusions and for information that is irrelevant, unduly burdensome to compile and not reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence. The Court finds that defendant has adequately responded to claimant's interrogatories with the exception of interrogatories "10" and "18." Defendant is directed to provide responsive answers to interrogatories "10" and "18."

Claimant's motion is granted in part and denied in part, as specifically set forth above.

January 31, 2018

Albany, New York


Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

1. Claimant's Notice of Motion to Compel Discovery, filed November 13, 2017;

2. Affirmation of Jonathan Spencer, dated November 6, 2017, and attached exhibits;

3. Affidavit of Joan Matalavage, sworn to November 22, 2017, and attached exhibits;

4. Reply "Affirmation" of Jonathan Spencer, sworn to November 27, 2017, and attached exhibit.