New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
SMITH v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2020-040-036, Claim No. 131684, Motion No. M-94635


Court conducted in camera inspection and directed that certain documents be provided to Claimant.

Case information

UID: 2020-040-036
Claimant(s): DONNIE SMITH, DIN #16A5041
Claimant short name: SMITH
Footnote (claimant name) :
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 131684
Motion number(s): M-94635
Cross-motion number(s):
Claimant's attorney: WATKINS LAW
By: Christopher D. Watkins, Esq.
Defendant's attorney: LETITIA JAMES
Attorney General of the State of New York
By: Christina Calabrese, Esq., AAG
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: October 26, 2020
City: Albany
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)


By Decision and Order of this Court dated February 13, 2020, the State was directed to produce the inmate disciplinary records of Claimant's four alleged assailants, for in camera inspection. The State has complied with the order and the Court has reviewed the submitted documents.

The Claim, which was filed in the Office of the Clerk of the Court on July 9, 2018, alleges that, on October 30, 2017, at approximately 8:15 p.m., at Clinton Correctional Facility (hereinafter, "Clinton"), Claimant was attacked by two inmates with weapons in the North Yard on the hill. Claimant further alleges that he was assaulted again by two inmates at Clinton in the North Yard at approximately 4:50 p.m. on April 9, 2018. Claimant asserts that Defendant was negligent in supervising the inmates and allowing him to be assaulted.

The Court has completed its review of the items contained in the disciplinary records maintained by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) regarding the alleged assailants. Defendant provided the Court with a redacted and unredacted copy of each of the four inmates disciplinary records.

After careful consideration, the Court finds that the following information shall be provided to Claimant as they are relevant to the issue of Defendant's knowledge regarding the alleged dangerous propensities of each of the alleged assailants and should be disclosed:

The name and Department Identification Number (DIN) of each alleged assailant. With regard to Inmate Rose, the Court finds that the only relevant incident is the second assault on Claimant on April 9, 2018, and the information on pages 1 and 3 of his records relating to that incident should be disclosed.

With regard to Inmate Burgos, the Court finds that the incident listed on page 4 of his records for the date December 14, 2017 is relevant and should be disclosed, as is the information listed on pages 4 and 5 relating to the first assault of Claimant on October 30, 2017.

With regard to Inmate Johnson, the Court finds that there are no items contained in Mr. Johnson's disciplinary records regarding his alleged dangerous propensities, prior to the alleged assaults upon Claimant, however, the second assault on Claimant on April 9, 2018, is mentioned three times, once each on pages 4, 6, and 7 of his records. The information relating to that incident should be disclosed.

With regard to Inmate Sean Smith, the Court finds that certain information starting on page 13 of his disciplinary records through page 20 are relevant and should be disclosed. The incidents that the Court deems relevant and that should be disclosed are: (page 13) October 30, 2017 (first assault upon Claimant); December 14, 2015; (page 14) December 10, 2014; June 2, 2013; October 2, 2007; (page 15) October 29, 2004; (page 16) October 30, 2017; March 11, 2017, December 14, 2015; April 23, 2015; (page 17) December 10, 2014; December 4, 2012; (page 18) December 1, 2010; July 29, 2008; (page 19) July 1, 2008; October 2, 2007; July 22, 2006; (page 20) January 20, 2006; July 24, 2005; and May 9, 2005.

Documents containing personal information, such as Social Security number(s) and/or the name(s) and DIN(s) of other inmates, shall be redacted so that no such information is provided.

The Chief Clerk of the Court is directed to seal and preserve both sets of documents (redacted and unredacted) provided to the Court for this in camera inspection in the event of possible appellate review.

Therefore, it is

ORDERED that Defendant provide these documents to Claimant, at his cost, and provide a copy of such documents to the Court, within forty (40) days of the date of filing of this Decision and Order; and it is further

ORDERED that the parties are directed to enter into a confidentiality agreement to preclude Claimant from sharing any such records with any person who would not have access to such records in the normal course of employment.

The Court will contact the parties to establish a conference date to discuss the completion of discovery following the filing of this Decision and Order.

October 26, 2020

Albany, New York


Judge of the Court of Claims