New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
GAMBLE v. STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-040-012, Claim No. 127616, Motion No. M-91135

Synopsis

State's Motion for a Protective Order granted in part and denied in part.

Case information

UID: 2018-040-012
Claimant(s): WILLIAM J. GAMBLE
Claimant short name: GAMBLE
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 127616
Motion number(s): M-91135
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY
Claimant's attorney: William J. Gamble, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: Joan Matalavage, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: February 2, 2018
City: Albany
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion for a protective order pursuant to CPLR 3103 is granted in part and Defendant is not required to answer the interrogatories, dated August 21, 2017, served by Claimant, with the exception of Claimant's Requests 9 and 10, which Defendant is directed to answer.

The pro se Claim, which was filed with the Office of the Clerk of the Court on March 7, 2016, alleges that, in January and February 2014, Claimant was incarcerated at Franklin Correctional Facility. He asserts that Defendant was negligent in allowing him to be released from the medical unit and returned to the general inmate population on January 26, 2014, based upon his medical condition. He asserts that he was assaulted twice in February in general population by other inmates and then once by several correction officers. He asserts that he suffered "a 'ruptured globe,' the corneal graft was detached [and] emergency surgery" was required (Claim, 5). It appears that following the alleged assault by the correction officers, he suffered another ruptured globe and had more emergency surgery (id., 6). Claimant asserts that he has suffered irreversible loss of vision to and sensitivity to light in his right eye (id., 9).

On August 30, 2017, Defendant received a set of 16 interrogatories from Claimant dated August 21, 2017 (Affidavit of Joan Matalavage, Esq., Assistant Attorney General [hereinafter, "Matalavage Affidavit"], 6 and Ex. C attached thereto). Defendant seeks a protective order, which would relieve it from responding to the interrogatories. Claimant has not submitted any papers in opposition to the State's Motion.

Interrogatories are properly denied when they seek information that is "palpably improper, i.e., irrelevant, overly broad, or burdensome," or when they are drafted in a manner that is "vague and indefinite" (Jefferson v State of New York, 60 AD3d 1215, 1215 [3d Dept 2009]). That is the case, for example, when interrogatories are "unreasonably detailed" when viewed against the backdrop of a case that does not warrant complex discovery (see Village of Mamaroneck v State of New York, 16 AD3d 674 [2d Dept 2005]). Likewise, interrogatories may be struck when they consist of multiple subparts or reference outside documents (see Botsas v Grossman, 7 AD3d 654, 655 [2d Dept 2004]).

Many of Claimant's interrogatories violate these principles, as they are confusing, or require opinions and interpretations to be made by Defendant, and are, therefore, improper (for example, interrogatories 3, 4, and 6) (see Blotcher v Upjohn Co., 54 AD2d 851 [1st Dept 1976]; McFadden v State of New York, UID No. 2015-049-014 [Ct Cl, Weinstein, J., Feb.20, 2015]).

Other interrogatories are broadly drawn and difficult to understand (for example, interrogatories 8 and 15) or are based on a presumption of particular facts (for example, interrogatories 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 15, and 16).

While the Court finds that the great majority of interrogatories are improper, the Court finds that Requests 9 and 10 do not suffer from the defects described above and Defendant is directed to respond to those interrogatories within thirty (30) days of the date this Decision and Order is filed with the Office of the Clerk of the Court. If Claimant is not satisfied with Defendant's responses to Requests 9 and 10, he may make an appropriate motion.

Therefore, based upon the foregoing, Defendant's Motion for a protective order is granted in part, and Defendant is not required to respond to the interrogatories, other than Requests 9 and 10. Claimant may make further requests for interrogatories that do not suffer form the defects described above.

February 2, 2018

Albany, New York

CHRISTOPHER J. McCARTHY

Judge of the Court of Claims

The following papers were read on Defendant's Motion:

Papers Numbered

Notice of Motion, Affidavit, &

Exhibits Attached 1

Filed Papers: Claim, Answer