Attorneys for the Little Whiskey Christmas Club (LWCC) in Fairhope are objecting to a broad subpoena filed in a civil lawsuit against Ronan McSharry, who is accused by Paula DiNardi of shoving her off a barstool there in November 2018.
McSharry was criminally charged with public intoxication and third-degree assault in the case, but the assault charge was later dropped by Fairhope prosecutors. His public intoxication charge is scheduled for a jury trial in September.
In her civil case, DiNardi seeks punitive and compensatory damages, claiming McSharry “forcefully shoved [her] backwards off her stool, slamming [her] head against the concrete floor.” She also claims McSharry has a “pattern and practice of violent behavior,” which “presents a risk to the community” and he “has been successful in avoiding justice with many of his prior victims.”
McSharry’s attorney, James Pittman, has also sought subpoenas against Lagniappe and other non-parties in the case. But from LWCC he seeks a copy of the bar’s ABC license; a certificate of insurance including the liquor liability and “dram shop” policy; plus “access for inspection and copying of the security camera system … from Nov. 22, 2018 until the present.”
On Aug. 21, LWCC attorney Tom Walsh said although the requests for ABC and insurance records were objectionable, the bar voluntarily complied and turned them over Aug. 13. But two years’ worth of video footage includes information “that is immaterial, irrelevant or outside the scope of this litigation.” Walsh also dismissed the request as an attempt to “harass, annoy or oppress [LWCC] on a clear fishing expedition.”
Last November, Pittman subpoenaed this newspaper for communications between this reporter and sources, and in January, Baldwin County Circuit Court Judge Clark Stankoski ruled Alabama’s Shield Law protects reporters from disclosing sources of information, but not the information they provide.
In a resulting motion to reconsider, another non-party subject of the subpoena, Bay Minette attorney Harry Still, argued Stankoski’s ruling allows McSharry “to end-around or circumvent the Alabama Shield Statute by going directly to individuals and asking for all their communications with Lagniappe … The decision in this case will have far-reaching consequences for all news outlets and media companies in the state of Alabama. It will place a chilling effect on anyone providing information to the press and the legal condition precedent, that a source must be disclosed unless their information was used and published in some manner creates a temporal question.”
In his objection, Walsh noted the lawsuit “involves an assault by [McSharry] on [DiNardi] while sitting at a bar on a single night. No reasonable argument can be made justifying production of video footage from 2020, 2019 or even anything past the evening/shift of the alleged incident. The subpoena, if adhered to, would allow the defendant ongoing access to the security system, allowing the defendant to retrieve irrelevant, immaterial and unrelated events from 2018, 2019, 2020, and any time leading up to the trial.”
In lieu of the full request, LWCC is asking Stankoski to “provide proper clarification as to the time and scope of the request, and set proper procedures for accessing/inspecting the security camera system.”
Stankoski has yet to rule on Still’s motion to reconsider, although a hearing is set in the case Sept. 2.
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