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Moore v. LaSalle Corrections, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

December 19, 2019

ERIE MOORE, JR., ET AL.
v.
LaSALLE CORRECTIONS, INC., ET AL.

          MAG. Judge KAREN L. HAYES

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendant LaSalle Corrections, Inc.'s (“LaSalle”) Objection to and Appeal of the Magistrate Judge's October 31, 2019 Memorandum Order [Doc. No. 179] insofar as it denied LaSalle's motion for a protective order to prevent discovery as to LaSalle's financial information. [Doc. No. 181]. Plaintiffs have filed an opposition [Doc. No. 183]. LaSalle has filed a reply to the opposition [Doc. No. 185]. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the appeal, and GRANTS LaSalle's motion for a protective order [Doc. No. 174].

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This action was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981, et seq., by the children of Eric Moore, Sr., (hereinafter “Plaintiffs”), and alleges that his death was caused by the actions of multiple defendants employed by LaSalle, a private company that works under contract with local political subdivisions to provide correction services. On October 12, 2015, Moore was arrested and taken to Richwood Correctional Center (“RCC”), which is operated by LaSalle. Plaintiffs allege that one or more RCC guards beat Moore in the head, leading to his death. Plaintiffs allege RCC and LaSalle failed to adequately supervise the correctional officers, failed to investigate the cause of death, failed to take remedial actions, failed to train in defensive tactics, and failed to implement policies to require adequate monitoring of cells and provide required screening of newly arrested inmates.

         Plaintiffs filed a notice of FED. R. CIV. P. Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of LaSalle seeking, in part, information as to the “[c]urrent financial net worth of LaSalle Management, to include the net value and profit and balance sheets of LaSalle.” [Doc. No. 174, p.3]. On October 24, 2019, LaSalle responded with a Motion for Protective Order in which it argued, with regard to the request for financial information, that it cannot be cast for punitive damages and therefore the financial information sought by Plaintiffs was irrelevant and disproportionate to the needs of this case [Id., p. 6-7].

         On October 31, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued a Memorandum Order denying LaSalle's Motion for Protective Order with regard to its financial records, on the basis that:

Though LaSalle argues that the Fifth Circuit would hold that punitive damages are not available against a prison, it does not cite to, and the undersigned is unaware of, any controlling case law holding that private corporations are not liable for punitive damages. Thus, in the absence of a ruling on this underlying legal issue, it is relevant to know about LaSalle's financials for purposes of pursuing a possible award of punitive damages.

[Doc. No. 179, pp. 4-5]

         On November 14, 2019, LaSalle filed the pending Objection and Appeal [Doc. No. 181]. It has been fully briefed and the Court is prepared to rule.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a), this Court's review of the Magistrate Judge's order denying LaSalle's motion for a protective order is subject to the clearly erroneous or contrary to law standard:

(a) Non-dispositive Matters. When a pretrial matter not dispositive of a party's claim or defense is referred to a magistrate judge to hear and decide, the magistrate judge must promptly conduct the required proceedings, and, when appropriate, issue a written order stating the decision. A party may serve and file objections to the order within 14 days after being served with a copy. A party may not assign as error a defect in the order not timely objected to. The district judge in the case must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.

         Further, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), “[a] judge of the court may reconsider any pretrial matter under this subparagraph (A) where it has been shown that the magistrate judge's order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”

         B. ...


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