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Laird v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 13, 2017

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

          ORDER

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES 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 ...

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