NEW YORK — In a lawsuit involving allegations of racial profiling, a Texas state court in Jefferson County has ordered Dillard’s Department Stores not to destroy certain security personnel notebooks and logs.

The order arose from a lawsuit filed in March 2002 by 18 individuals, all African-American, alleging false imprisonment, assault, battery, emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The charges of the plaintiffs — 12 adults and six teens — were focused on security guards at Dillard’s stores in Beaumont and Port Arthur, Tex.

Separately, Wednesday, the Little Rock, Ark.-based department store operator reported it would sell its 50 percent stake in FlatIron Crossing, a regional mall in Broomfield, Colo., to Macerich Co., which owns the other half of the center, for $68.5 million.

Lawyers at Chargois & Ernster, who represent the plaintiffs in the suit against Dillard’s, said in a statement that they requested the court order because information in the documents concerning nonarrest activities "may show systematic targeting of minority and low-income shoppers for surveillance and intimidation."

Executives at Dillard’s could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit, which is set to go to trial in September 2003, is seeking unspecified damages relating to mental and emotional distress, humiliation and defamation.

Dillard’s has faced similar legal charges in recent years, according to the law firm. The firm also said that since 1994, several deaths have resulted from altercations with Dillard’s security guards: four in Texas, one in Tennessee and the latest, on Nov. 14, at a store in Cleveland.

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