LAIRD v. STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY

Civil Action No. 16-707-JWD-RLB.

DONNA LAIRD, v. STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, ET AL.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana.

Editors Note
Applicable Law: 28 U.S.C. § 1331
Cause: 28 U.S.C. § 1331 Fed. Question: Civil Rights Violation
Nature of Suit: 440 Civil Rights: Other
Source: PACER


Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

Donna Laird, Plaintiff, represented by Kearney S. Loughlin .

State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, Defendant, represented by Wayne J. Lee , Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann, LLC & Lesli D. Harris , Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann, LLC.

State Farm Life Insurance Company, Defendant, represented by Wayne J. Lee , Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann, LLC & Lesli D. Harris , Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann, LLC.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Defendant, represented by Wayne J. Lee , Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann, LLC & Lesli D. Harris , Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann, LLC.

Stan Douglas, Defendant, represented by Charles L. Chassaignac, IV , Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson, Eleanor Weeks Wall , Porteous, Hainkel, & Johnson & Kellye Rosenzweig Grinton , Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson.

Michael Rojas, Defendant, represented by Matthew W. Pryor , Pujol Pryor & Irwin, LLC.

Patti Freeman, Defendant, represented by Mary G. Erlingson , Erlingson Banks, PLLC, Judson G. Banks , Erlingson Banks PLLC & Lee J. Ledet , Erlinson Banks, PLLC.

Sheriff Sid J Gautreaux, Defendant, represented by Lee J. Ledet , Erlinson Banks, PLLC, Mary G. Erlingson , Erlingson Banks, PLLC & Judson G. Banks , Erlingson Banks PLLC.

Columbia Casualty Company, Defendant, represented by Ashley E. Gilbert , CNA Coverage Litigation Group & Mary K. Cryar , CNA Coverage Litigation Group.


ORDER

RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is State Farm's Motion for Entry of Order Permitting Deposition of East Baton Rouge Assistant District Attorney. (R. Doc. 46). Plaintiff filed a Response. (R. Doc. 48). State Farm has filed a Reply. (R. Doc. 56). The Court conducted a hearing on the motion on July 12, 2017.

PRESENT:1 Kearney S. Loughlin Counsel for plaintiff Lesli D. Harris Counsel for defendants, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, State Farm Life Insurance Company and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company Allison Rutzen Counsel for Assistant District Attorney Melanie Fields Lee J. Ledet Counsel for defendant, Detective Patti Freeman Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux Mary K. Cryar Counsel for defendant, Columbia Casualty Company

Donna Laird ("Plaintiff") initiated this action in state court, alleging that she was maliciously prosecuted for the crimes of second degree battery, false imprisonment, crimes of violence against a victim 65 years old or older, cruelty to the infirmed, exploitation of the infirmed, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. (R. Doc. 1-1). Plaintiff sought and was granted expungement of the state court criminal record after the charges were dismissed.

State Farm removed the action to this Court on October 20, 2016. (R. Doc. 1).

On March 20, 2017, Plaintiff executed an "Authorization and Release for Expunged Records Pursuant to Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 973(A)(3)." (R. Doc. 56-1). State Farm is now seeking to depose Melanie Fields, the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the underlying criminal case, regarding the facts and circumstances of the prosecution, including why it was dismissed. The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office informed State Farm that before it would agree to release Ms. Fields for a deposition to discuss the underlying criminal case, which is subject to expungement, it would require an Order from the Court authorizing the deposition pursuant to Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 973(A)(2).

Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 973 provides, in relevant part, the following:

A. An expunged record of arrest or conviction shall be confidential and no longer considered to be a public record and shall not be made available to any person or other entity except for the following: (1) To a member of a law enforcement or criminal justice agency or prosecutor who shall request that information in writing, certifying that the request is for the purpose of investigating, prosecuting, or enforcing criminal law, for the purpose of any other statutorily defined law enforcement or administrative duties, or for the purposes of the requirements of sex offender registration and notification pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 15:540 et seq. (2) On order of a court of competent jurisdiction and after a contradictory hearing for good cause shown. (3) To the person whose record has been expunged or his counsel. (4) To a member of a law enforcement or criminal justice agency, prosecutor, or judge, who requests that information in writing, certifying that the request is for the purpose of defending a law enforcement, criminal justice agency, or prosecutor in a civil suit for damages resulting from wrongful arrest or other civil litigation and the expunged record is necessary to provide a proper defense.

La. Civ. Code art. 973(A). A "record" is defined to include "any incident reports, photographs, fingerprints, disposition, or any other such information of any kind in relation to a single arrest event in the possession of the clerk of court, any criminal justice agency, and local and state law enforcement agencies but shall not include DNA records." La. Civ. Code art. 972(1).

Although the Court does not make a specific finding that this Louisiana Code provision is necessarily applicable to the instant case in federal court, to the extent that Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 973(A) requires the issuance of a court order before a prosecuting attorney may provide information at a deposition on a criminal action with an expunged record, the instant Order is intended to satisfy the requirements of that statute.

At the July 12, 2017 hearing, no objections were raised to the deposition proceeding.2 The Court also finds that there is good cause for the release of this information, as the expungement of records at issue directly relates to the subject matter of the instant action.

Based on the foregoing,

IT IS ORDERED that State Farm's Motion for Entry of Order Permitting Deposition of East Baton Rouge Assistant District Attorney (R. Doc. 47) is GRANTED. The Court orders that the deposition of Melanie Fields may proceed pursuant to Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 973(A)(2). To the extent the deposition at issue will require further dissemination of any expunged record of the Plaintiff, whether through deposition testimony or physical record, that information may be disclosed by Ms. Fields.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to Rule 16(b)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the non-expert discovery deadline is extended to August 11, 2017 for the limited purpose of completing the deposition of Melanie Fields. Nothing in this Order shall be construed as defining the scope of the deposition or the ability of Ms. Fields or any party to raise specific objections. Any motions with regard to the deposition of Melanie Fields or relating to such discovery must be filed within the time allowed by Local Rule 26(d)(1).

PORTEOUS, HAINKEL AND JOHNSON, L.L.P. RALPH R. ALEXIS, III 343 THIRD STREET, SUITE 302 C. CORDON JOHNSON, JR (Retired) ADRIANNE BAUMGARTNER BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA 70801-1309 JAMES S THOMPSON (Retired) GLENN B ADAMS TELEPHONE 225-383-8900 CHAUNTTS T JENKINS (Of Counsel) WM RYAN ACOMB FACSIMILE 225-383-7900 WILLIAM A PORTEOUS, JR (1899.1969) FRED M. TROWBRIDGE, JR. F CARTER JOHNSON, JR. 1905.1964) CHARLES L. CHEASSAIGNAC, IV WWW. PHJLAW.COM JOHN J HAINKEL, JR. (1918-2005) MICHAEL G. GEE WILLIAM A PORTEOUS, III (1937-(2006) DAN RICHARD DORSEY _________________ JAMES R NIESET, JR. NANCY L. CROMARTIE NICHOLAS C GRISTINA 704 CARONDELET STREET PATRICIA P. DARATTINI BRYAN J. HAYDEL, JR NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA 70130 EMILY S MORRISON MATTHEW L. MANN TELEPHONE 504-581-3838 ELEANOR W WALL DARRIN M. O'CONNOR FACSIMILE 504-581-4069 GORDON P GUTHRIE, III MICHELE TROWBRIDGE BARRECA LEANDROR AREA ___________________________ SAMUEL P. BAUMGARTNER KELLY R ENGIERT EMAIL ADDRESS OF WRITER 408 N. COLUMBIA STREET MICHELLE D BROOKS ewall@phjlaw.com COVINGTON, LOUISIANA 70433-2920 BRENDAN P CONNICK TELEPHONE 985-893-1790 KRISTOPHER M. GOULD' DIRECT DIAL OF WRITER: ____________________________ KELSEY L JARRETT (225)336-8928 211 WEST FIFTH STREET KELLYE R. GRINTON THIBODAUX, LOUISIANA 70301-3199 ADRIENNE a RACHEL DIRECT FAX OF WRITER: TELEPHONE 985-446-8451 MARLA E. MITCHELL (225) 336-8924 FACSIMILE 985.447-3004 MATTHEW E. SIMMONS JADE ENNIS PLEASE REPLY TO: ANDREW G. WEST BATON ROUGE I. MURPHY DELAUNE MICHAEL B GUERRY July 12, 2017 NICHOLAS) J GUARISCO AMY I. McINNIS KIRK D PFEFFRLE Also Licensed in North Carolina Magistrate Judge Richard L. Bourgeois, Jr. VIA FAX NO. (225) 389-3603 U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana 777 Florida Street, Suite 278 Baton Rouge, LA 70801 Re: Donna Laird vs. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, State Farm Life Insurance Company, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Stan Douglas, Michael Rojas, Detective Patti Freeman, and Ski Gautreaux in his official capacity as Sheriff of EBRP Our File No.: 941.1077 Dear Judge Bourgeois: I represent State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in the above-captioned matter. I am writing to advise you that I will be waiving my appearance at the July 12, 2017 hearing on State Farm's Motion for Entry of Order Permitting Deposition of East Baton Rouge Assistant District Attorney (R. Doc. 46). Please do not hesitate to contact me at ewall@phjlaw.com, Sincerely, ELFANOR W. WALL EWW/rb cc: All Counsel of Recod (via email).

TIMOTHY E. PUJOL MATTHEW W. PRYOR BARBARA LANEIRWIN MATTHEW P. ROTH July 11, 2017 VIA FACSIMILE: (225) 389-3603 Magistrate Judge Richard L. Bourgeois, Jr. U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana 777 Florida Street, Suite 278 Baton Rouge, LA 70801 Re: Laird v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, et al U.S. Middle District Court, Case No: 3:16-cv-00707-JWD-RLB Our File No: 16-070

Dear Judge Bourgeois:

I represent Michael Rojas is the above captioned matter. I am writing to advise you that I will be waiving my appearance as counsel for Michael Rojas for the July 12, 2017 hearing on State Farm's Motion for Entry of Order Permitting Deposition of East Baton Rouge Assistant District Attorney (R. Doc. 46), as I will be out of state.

Mr. Rojas takes no position as to the motion, but would respectfully request that discussion of any other matters be postponed until a date when I am able to attend on behalf of my client. I will return on July 24, 2017.

Should you need to reach me, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at mpryor@ppiattorneys.com.

With best regards, I am,

Truly, yours, PUJOL, PRYOR & IRWIN, LLC Mathew W. Pryor. MWP/hme cc: All counsel of record via e-mail Charles L. Chassaignac, IV, Esq. (cchassaigaac@phjlaw.com) Eleanor Weeks Wall, Esq. (ewall@phjlaw.com) Judson G. Banks, Esq. (jbanks@erlingsonbanks_com) Kearney S. Loughlin, Esq. (kloughlin@att.net) Kellye Rosenzweig Grinton, Esq. (kgrinton@phjlaw.com) Lee J. Ledet, Esq. (lledet@erlingsonbanks.corn) Lesli D. Harris, Esq. (lharris@stonepigrnan.com) Mary G. Erlingson, Esq. (merlingson@erlingsonbanIcs.com) Ashley E. Gilbert, Esq. (Ashley.gilbert@cna.com) Wayne J. Lee, Esq. (wlee@stonepigman.com)

FootNotes


1. The Court received a letter from Eleanor W. Wall, counsel for defendant, Stan Douglas, waiving her appearance for the hearing. In addition, the Court received a letter from Matthew W. Pryor, counsel for defendant, Michael Rojas, waiving his appearance for the hearing. Those letters are attached. C: cv25c; T:00:20
2. While some counsel present raised concerns regarding potential objections based upon attorney-client privilege or work product immunity, the Court informed counsel that a ruling on prospective objections was not ripe for consideration.

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