Court partially grants motion to quash subpoena in alleged string of staged car accidents

By Charmaine Little | May 14, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted in part and denied in part a motion to quash a subpoena for a group of women accused of staging accidents.

Kierra Thomas, Shirley Harris and Antoine Clark sued Randall Chambers, God’s Way Trucking LLC, and Canal Insurance Co. in a personal injury lawsuit after an alleged car accident. They filed the suit in the Civil District Court for Orleans Parish. 

In the current court, defendants are claiming the car accident didn’t really happen, but instead was staged. They pointed out the plaintiffs were involved in more than 30 very similar car accidents. 

U.S. District Judge Karen Wells Roby ruled on the case on April 9.

U.S. District Judge Karen Wells Roby  

Other than the facts of the accidents, defendants said there are other links such as the medical financing company, Medport LA, used in the other accidents. As a response, the defendants served Sean Alfortish, an independent contractor and sales rep for Medport, with a corporate deposition subpoena via Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6). 

Medport and Alfortish responded with a motion to quash the deposition saying the defendants failed to detail the particulars of the need for the subpoena, and that they do not have the right to choose Alfortish as the corporate representative. They also argued that Alfortish is not the right person to receive a lawsuit for Medport.

The court did agree with the plaintiffs that the defendants incorrectly served Alfortish with the subpoena.

“The defendants did not name Medport as the deponent and ‘describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination,” as detailed in Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6), said the court. “Rather, the defendants named Alfortish as the deponent and stated that they wished to depose him ‘individually and in capacity as a representative of Medport LA.’ This is wholly improper and Medport is correct that the defendants do not have the right to unilaterally select Alfortish as their corporate representative.” 

It also did not help that the defendants did not properly withdraw the subpoena, so the court granted the motion to quash.

Medport also asked for a protective order via Rule 26(c) that would bar Alfortish’s deposition and block the defendants from issuing any more subpoenas to Medport. While Alfortish and Medport did their part in fulfilling the obligations in asking for a Rule 26(c) protective order, the court added that it could not “issue a protective order” concerning future subpoenas.

The court also did not green light an order that would stop Alfortish from testifying, especially since the subpoena has already been quashed, so the protective order was denied.

The court did grant Medport and Alfortish’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs concerning the Rule 26(c)(3) and Rule 37(a)(5)A), as it was certain it would not come across any circumstances that would cause the fees to be unfair. The court also denied Medport’s request for sanctions. 

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Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

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