Harris et al v. Hillvale Holdings LLC
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER : IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Compel Production of Documents and Things from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is (ECF No. 30 ) GRANTED. A Protective Order entered by this Court shall accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on 09/21/2016. (KCB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ZALAHA HARRJS , et al. ,
HILL VALE HOLDINGS LLC d/b/a
HILLVALE APARTMENTS PROPERTIES
d/b/a HILL VALE APARTMENTS,
No. 4:15CV1854 RLW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendant' s Motion to Compel Production of
Documents and Things from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, or Alternative
Motion to Stay (ECF No. 30). The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (" SLMPD") filed a
memorandum in opposition, and the Defendant filed a reply in support. Upon review of the
motion and responses thereto, the Court will grant Defendant' s Motion to Compel and enter a
protective order pertaining to the requested information.
This case stems from a shooting in the parking lot of an apartment complex owned and
operated by Defendant. On February 14, 2015, Plaintiff Shawn Beck ("Beck") and the deceased
Joshua Johnson ("Johnson") were visiting a tenant of Defendant Hillvale Holdings, LLC ' s
("Hillvale") property. While sitting in their automobile in Defendant's parking lot, two
individuals shot at Beck and Johnson, seriously injuring Beck and killing Johnson. Plaintiffs
assert that Defendant was aware that its property was unsafe as a result of prior incidents of
crime occurring on or near its property and that Defendant owed a duty to take reasonable
measures to protect Beck and Johnson from the criminal assaults that had repeatedly occurred on
said property. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that the parking lot gate was broken, turned off, or
otherwise not functioning on the date of the incident, which in turn failed to prevent access to the
lot by the individuals who shot Beck and Johnson. Additionally, Plaintiffs claim that Defendant
did not have adequate security personnel to prevent the shooting.
Plaintiff Beck and Plaintiff Zalaha Harris, the surviving natural mother of Johnson, filed
a petition for damages in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, which Defendant
removed to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs then filed a First
Amended Complaint on January 10, 2016. In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege
wrongful death by Plaintiff Harris against Defendant in Count I and negligence by Plaintiff Beck
against Defendant in Count II.
On September 1, 2016, Defendant Hill vale filed a Motion to Compel the SLMPD to
produce documents and things related to the incident, after the SLMPD objected to Defendant' s
August 1, 2016 Sunshine Law Request. (Def. ' s Mot. to Compel, ECF No. 30; Request, Def. ' s
Ex. A, ECF No. 30-1 ; Subpoena, Def. ' s Ex. C, ECF No. 30-3) The SLMPD filed a
memorandum in opposition, asserting that materials under subpoena are closed pursuant to Mo.
Rev. Stat. § 610 .100 .4 because the investigation is still active and ongoing. Defendant filed a
reply, arguing that the SLMPD waived its § 610.100.4 objection because it failed to seek relief in
light of the ongoing investigation within 30 days.
Under Mo. Rev. Stat.§ 610.100.4, a person "whose property is involved in an incident,
may obtain any records closed pursuant to this section or section 610.150 for purposes of
investigation oaf any civil claim or defense" pursuant to a written request. Further, within thirty
days of such request, the law enforcement agency "shall provide the requested material or file a
motion ... with the circuit court having jurisdiction over the law enforcement agency stating .. .
that a criminal investigation is likely to be jeopardized." Mo. Rev. Stat. § 610.100.4.
While the SLMPD contends that release of the records would jeopardize the criminal
investigation into the shooting, the Court finds that the agency failed to file a proper motion
within 30 days objecting to the production of the materials in the initial Sunshine Law request
and the subsequent subpoena served on August 18, 2016. In addition, the records requested by
Defendant Hillvale are relevant to the civil wrongful death and negligence claims Plaintiffs have
brought against Hillvale. In the event that the Court granted the motion to compel, the SLMPD
attached a proposed protective order, to which none of the parties has objected. The Court
concludes that the protective order adequately prevents the underlying criminal investigation
from being jeopardized. Therefore, the Court will grant Defendant's Motion to Compel and
enter the Protective Order submitted by the SLMPD.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant' s Motion to Compel Production of
Documents and Things from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is (ECF No. 30)
GRANTED. A Protective Order entered by this Court shall accompany this Memorandum and
Dated this 21st day of September, 2016.
RONNIE L. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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