Missouri Discrimination Suit Leads to Petition in Federal Court in California

An unusual lawsuit we covered earlier this year is back in the Fire Law headlines with a rather unusual twist: the defendants in the case are seeking a subpoena duces tecum against Google to help them identity of the source of harassing emails and online posts.

The Black Jack Fire Protection District and its chairman, David Calhoun, have filed a petition to open a miscellaneous case in US District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking court approval for a subpoena to Google LLC to produce information to assist in the identification of the harassers.

The fire district and Calhoun are defendants in a lawsuit filed originally in St. Louis County Circuit Court, and removed to US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The suit was brought by former Fire Chief Ankeneth Corbin alleging “Black on Black” race discrimination and retaliation.

The petition to open a miscellaneous case states as follows:

  • ANKENETH CORBIN sued BLACK JACK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT and DAVID CALHOUN for age discrimination, race discrimination, and retaliation at the Circuit Court of St. Louis, Missouri on February 14, 2023.
  • The suit was removed to the United States District Court for Eastern District of Missouri.
  • As parties carried out discovery, Defendants started receiving harassing electronic messages from an anonymous third party(ies) in relation to the aforementioned pending suit.
  • One of the electronic messages was sent from blasterkaren341@gmail.com and kimvanhooser1955@gmail.com addresses.
  • Defendants intend to find locate the third party(ies) post or sending the harassing messages with the mentioned email and making disparaging online posts on the mentioned websites.
  • The emails and websites were created with a Google, LLC’s domain.
  • In order to get the information needed to locate the third parties, Defendants have to subpoena documents from Google, LLC in accordance with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 45.

Here is a copy of the petition:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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