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Monday, April 2, 2007

High State Officials (Even a Governor) Must Provide Information in ADA Suits

The obligation to provide information in the pre-trial stages of an ADA case apply to high state officials, including a governor, even if no personal involvement of the official is alleged in the case.

This is a suit by parole violators in New York City's jails, claiming that they have been incarcerated in the city's jails needlessly while awaiting an opening in an appopriate treatment program which can address their serious and persistent mental health conditions and additions. The suit's basis is the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.

The plaintiff prisoners sued the Governor and other executive branch officials. The Governor refused to answer discovery requests, claiming that he need not do so because no claims had been made that he was personally involved in the matters in the suit and that the other defendants' answers represent the response of the executive branch, so his answers would be duplicative. The Governor, however, did not make a timely objection or request for a protective order.

The court held the Governor to the rules and required him to answer the discovery (or show an agreement among the parties that the Governor would be bound by the answers of others). The Governor's violation of the rules was not in bad faith, so no sanctions were imposed.

However, given the Governor's actions, he was found to have waived all objections to interrogatories and thus must answer them in full by a date set by the court. Plaintiffs also won an order that the Governor pay their attorney's fees and expenses on this motion.

Jobe O. v. Pataki, Slip Copy, 2007 WL 844707 (S.D.N.Y., Mar. 15, 2007).

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