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Get off our lawn: Gung-ho St. Louis lawyer couple's long history of legal fights

A St. Louis couple who made headlines nationwide for standing on their porch brandishing guns aimed at Black Lives Matter demonstrators have a 25-year history of filing a slew of lawsuits, it has emerged. 

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a husband and wife personal injury attorney duo, were filmed on June 28 aiming at protesters who walked by their mansion on the way to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house.

McCloskey, 63, said they were scared, and were defending their property.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a husband and wife personal injury attorney duo, on June 28

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a husband and wife personal injury attorney duo, on June 28

On Sunday their local newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, published a detailed analysis of their long line of legal battles. 

The couple, who met when they were at Southern Methodist University law school, moved back to St. Louis in 1986. 

They moved into the palazzo at One Portland Place having filed a lawsuit in 1988 to obtain the property.

They sued a man who sold them a Maserati they claimed was supposed to come with a box of hard-to-find parts, the paper reported. 

In November 1996, Mark McCloskey filed two lawsuits, one against a dog breeder whom he said sold him a German Shepherd without papers and the other against the Central West End Association for using a photo of their house in a brochure for a house tour after the McCloskeys had told them not to.

‘I guess we were saving gas,’ he joked in a deposition in another case, when asked why he filed two lawsuits at once.

For years the couple have been at war over the rights to a small patch of land bordering their property.

Protesters file past McCloskey's house, in what the residents said was a threatening manner

Protesters file past McCloskey’s house, in what the residents said was a threatening manner

One Portland Place seen from the air. The couple have lived there for over 25 years

One Portland Place seen from the air. The couple have lived there for over 25 years

In 2013, Mark McCloskey destroyed bee hives placed just outside of the mansion’s northern wall by the neighboring Jewish Central Reform Congregation and left a note saying he did it, and if the mess wasn’t cleaned up quickly he would seek a restraining order and attorneys fees. 

The congregation had planned to harvest the honey and pick apples from trees on its property for Rosh Hashanah. 

‘The children were crying in school,’ Rabbi Susan Talve said. ‘It was part of our curriculum.’

The McCloskeys, according to the paper, have constantly sought to force their neighborhood trustees to maintain the exclusivity of Portland Place.

They accused the trustees of selectively enforcing the written rules for living in the neighborhood, known as the trust agreement, and in particular failing to enforce a rule about unmarried couples living together.

Their insistence was seen as an attempt to force gay couples from the community.

The trustees voted to impeach Patricia McCloskey as a trustee in 1992 when she fought an effort to change the trust indenture, accusing her of being anti-gay.

The triangle of land bordering the McCloskey home has been the source of a long dispute

The triangle of land bordering the McCloskey home has been the source of a long dispute

Mark McCloskey clarified in a deposition much later that the trust agreement barred unmarried people living together, regardless of their sexuality.

‘Certain people on Portland Place, for political reasons, wanted to make it a gay issue,’ he said.

In 2002, the Portland Place Association sued to foreclose on the McCloskeys’ house because they were refusing to pay dues. 

One former Portland Place trustee told the paper he had nothing good to say about the couple. 

‘They’ve always been part of the problem, never part of the solution,’ Robert Dolgin said.

On a second property, in Franklin County, the couple had disputes with their neighbors over a gravel path, and sued for squatters rights to a section of land.

The McCloskeys also evicted two tenants from a modular home on their property in a period of just over two years. 

Mark McCloskey in a photo promoting his law practice in St. Louis

Mark McCloskey in a photo promoting his law practice in St. Louis

Patricia McCloskey works with her husband as a personal injury attorney in Missouri

Patricia McCloskey works with her husband as a personal injury attorney in Missouri

He sued his employers for wrongful dismissal, and then turned on his own family, in particular after his father largely wrote him out of the will in 2008, sparking a family feud that would last eight years.

Bruce McCloskey, who died in 2014, removed his son from the will

Bruce McCloskey, who died in 2014, removed his son from the will

Mark McCloskey filed a defamation case against his father and sister in 2011, dismissed it in 2012, and refiled it in 2013. By the time of the final filing, Bruce McCloskey was living in a memory care unit in Ballwin; he died in 2014. 

In March 2013 McCloskey sued his father and his father’s trust over a gift of five acres, promised in 1976, which never materialized.

A judge ruled against him in 2016.

Mark McCloskey dismissed the defamation case, but he sued his sister and his two brothers and their father’s trust again in 2016, accusing all of them of ‘tortious interference’ for pressing their father to cut him out of an inheritance.

The siblings settled, with their father’s trust paying Mark McCloskey $400,000, with all of them agreeing to drop all claims and never have contact with him again.

Albert Watkins, a lawyer representing the couple, would not answer questions from the paper. 

Portland Place in St. Louis, where the McCloskeys live, close to the city's mayor

Portland Place in St. Louis, where the McCloskeys live, close to the city’s mayor

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