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Grief v. Nassau County

United States District Court, E.D. New York

November 16, 2017

NASSAU COUNTY, SHERIFF MICHAEL SPOSATO, JOHN DOE 1, JOHN DOE 2, and JOHN DOE 3, individually and in their official capacities Defendants.



         This is a civil rights case in which Plaintiff Christopher Grief (“Plaintiff” or “Grief”) claims to have been injured by Defendants Nassau County, Sheriff Michael Sposato, Corrections Officer (“CO”) Alaberto Bazante, CO Angelo Muro, and CO Jaret Carbone (collectively “Defendants”). Specifically, Grief seeks relief for injuries alleged to have been suffered as a result of being assaulted, battered and otherwise abused at the Nassau County Correctional Center (“NCCC”) in violation of his rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and the Constitution and laws of the State of New York. See Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”), Docket Entry (“DE”) 67. Such injuries are alleged to have occurred on or around September 28, 2014. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-18.

         By way of background, on August 18, 2017, this Court issued an order (“August 18 Order”) granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery. The August 18 Order set forth specific discovery directives for both parties to follow. On September 20, 2017, Defendants moved for a protective order with regard to interrogatories Plaintiff served on Sheriff Sposato. DE 65. On September 25, 2017, Plaintiff moved for contempt concerning related issues stemming from the Court's August 18 Order. DE 69. On October 3, 2017, this Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's motion. See Order dated October 3, 2017 (“October 3 Order”).

         After the Court issued the October 3 Order, the case has was referred from the Nassau County Attorney's office to a new attorney for Defendants, Scott Kreppein, Esq. On October 4, 2017, Mr. Kreppein filed his notice of appearance. DE 77. On October 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for sanctions and to compel discovery. DE 79. Defendants filed a response on October 18, 2017. DE 80. On October 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a reply and to request that the Court enter an order that certain documents produced by Defendants be deemed as non-confidential. DE 81. The Court hereby denies Plaintiff's request to file a reply. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motions for sanctions is denied, and Plaintiff's motion to compel is granted in part. The Court now turns to discuss the merits of Plaintiff's motion and the reasoning of the Court.

         Plaintiff's motion to compel seeks (1) an order directing Defendants to produce a clear chronological production of photographs in color, (2) a ruling as to whether Plaintiff's Counsel shall be granted access to the Nassau County Correctional Center take photographs and conduct an inspection, and (3) an order directing Defendants to comply with the second, fourth, and fifth directives stated in the October 3 Order. That order provides, in pertinent part as follows:

(2) At this juncture, it is clear that Defense Counsel is working to provide the responses by Wednesday, October 4, 2017. The Court hereby extends the date for Defendants to provide such responses until October 4, 2017, but will not permit any further extension absent an indication that Counsel conferred in good faith. Any requests for extensions of time must comply with this Court's rules….
(4) Defendants are now directed to provide a specific basis for each and every redaction by October 10, 2017.
(5) If Parties are unable to agree to whether documents should be deemed confidential, they shall confer regarding each document by October 6, 2010. If after conferring Parties are unable to reach an agreement, Defendants have until October 13, 2010 to serve upon Plaintiff and the Court the documents in dispute, along with an explanation as to why each item submitted should be designated as confidential. The production of such documents shall be filed in a manner consistent with the procedure set forth in the Parties' confidentiality order. Plaintiff may respond no later than October 20, 2017. Defendant may reply no later than October 27, 2017.

         October 3 Order. The Court addresses each issue in turn.

         1. As to Plaintiff's Request for Photographs

         Plaintiff asserts that he has not yet received a clear color copy of the one photograph that he received in discovery (in poor quality black and white) that purports to depict Plaintiff's face and eyes after the time the Corrections Officers used force upon him on September 28, 2014. Defense counsel states that all photographs have been disclosed, and he has confirmed that the only available copy of one photograph is black and white. Plaintiff requests an Order requiring Defendants to immediately produce a clear chronological production of all of the photographs (to be provided in color) taken of Plaintiff while he was held in custody at the Nassau County Correctional Center (“NCCC”), and any records related to those photographs (such as documents indicating who took each photograph, and when, and in relation to what).

         Defense Counsel is directed to review all photographs in defendants' custody or control and to produce a clear chronological production of all such photographs. To the extent color photographs can be obtained, they shall be produced. To the extent Defendants cannot obtain color photographs, they shall produce a sworn statement that they have produced all photographs and list the photographs they were unable to obtain in color.

         2. As to Whether this Court will Direct the Nassau County Correctional Center to Allow Plaintiff's Counsel Entry and Inspection of the Facility

         At the outset the Court notes that Defendants have already produced to Plaintiff a schematic map of the relevant portion of the facility, and have also offered to produce photographs of a representative cell. Defendants further respond, in the form of an interrogatory response, to Plaintiff's request to seek entry into the correctional center to inspect and photograph all areas in which Plaintiff was housed. That response states that the incident that Plaintiff complains of took place in the medical unit. According to the Defendants, allowing Plaintiff's attorneys to enter the area would produce hardship because: (1) certain inmates are housed there all day, (2) no inmates would be able to be brought into the medical unit during the time counsel are present, (3) it would necessitate ...

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