United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
JAMES E. KING, SR., et al. PLAINTIFFS
COLE'S POULTRY, LLC, et al. DEFENDANTS
MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on defendant Peco Foods,
Inc.'s (“Peco”) Omnibus Motion in
Limine , in which Peco raises eighteen individual
motions in limine. Plaintiffs filed a response
opposing many of the motions. Having reviewed the submissions
of the parties, in addition to relevant authorities and
evidence, the Court is now prepared to rule.
for Motions in Limine
purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the trial
court to rule in advance of trial on the admissibility and
relevance of certain forecasted evidence.” Harkness
v. Bauhaus U.S.A., Inc., 2015 WL 631512, at *1 (N.D.
Miss. Feb. 13, 2015) (additional citations omitted). In this
context, “[e]vidence should not be excluded . . .
unless it is clearly inadmissible on all potential
grounds.” Id. (quoting Fair v.
Allen, 2011 WL 830291, at *1 (W.D. La. Mar. 3, 2011))
rulings “should often be deferred until trial so that
questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice
can be resolved in proper context.” Rivera v.
Salazar, 2008 WL 2966006, at *1 (S.D. Tex. July 30,
2008) (citing Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Co., 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975)). Moreover, the
“[d]enial of a motion in limine does not
necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion
will be admitted at trial. Denial merely means that without
the context of trial, the court is unable to determine
whether the evidence in question should be excluded.”
Gonzalez v. City of Three Rivers, 2013 WL 1150003,
at *1 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 8, 2013) (quoting Hawthorne
Partners v. AT&T Tech., Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400
(N.D. Ill. 1993); Luce v. United States, 469 U.S.
38, 41 n.4, 105 S.Ct. 460, 83 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984)).
Court has previously emphasized that “[t]he purpose of
motions in limine is not to re-iterate matters which
are set forth elsewhere in the Rules of Civil Procedure or
Rules of Evidence, but, rather, to identify specific
issues which are likely to arise at trial, and which, due to
their complexity or potentially prejudicial nature, are best
addressed in the context of a motion in
limine.” Maggette v. BL Development
Corp., 2011 WL 2134578, at *4 (N.D. Miss. May 21, 2011)
(emphasis in original); see also Estate of Wilson v.
Mariner Health Care, Inc., 2008 WL 5255819, at*1 (N.D.
Miss. Dec. 16, 2008) (“[M]otions in limine
should be narrowly tailored to address issues which will
likely arise at trial and which require a pre-trial ruling
due to their complexity and/or the possibility of prejudice
if raised in a contemporaneous objection.”).
Additionally, a motion “set[ting] forth a lengthy
laundry list of matters, most of them of a highly vague
nature . . . constitutes an improper ‘shotgun'
motion which fails to meet this court's standards for
motions in limine.” Estate of Wilson,
2008 WL 5255819, at *1.
this standard in mind, the Court turns to the case at hand.
As previously stated, within the present motion, Peco raised
eighteen individual motions in limine. The Court has
considered each motion and will address them in turn.
Peco requests that the Court exclude any evidence regarding
alleged nuisances that occurred after July 20, 2011. On
November 16, 2016, the Court entered an order denying
Plaintiffs' motion to extend the damages period,
rendering alleged nuisances that occurred after the filing of
the instant suit irrelevant. Plaintiffs assert that they
“generally do not oppose this motion. However, such
evidence may be relevant at the punitive damages stage of
Court will grant Peco's motion as it pertains to the
initial trial of this matter. If necessary, the Court will
consider the issue at the punitive damages stage. Second
to its first motion, Peco also requests that the Court
exclude “evidence regarding alleged damages or losses
of use and enjoyment of Plaintiffs' properties after July
20, 2011.” Peco asserts that this evidence should be
excluded for the same reasons set forth in its first motion.
Plaintiffs state that they do not oppose the motion but that
such evidence may be relevant at the punitive damages stage
of this action.
the first motion, the Court will grant the present motion,
and it will take up the issue again at the punitive damages
stage, if needed.
next argues that the Court should exclude “evidence
regarding alleged physical symptoms, health problems, medical
conditions, and/or emotional distress.” In support of
this proposition, Peco states that “Plaintiffs seek
compensatory damages solely for the alleged loss of use and
enjoyment of their properties. They do not allege to have
incurred any physical symptoms, health problems, medical
conditions, and/or emotional distress caused by living in the
vicinity of the Cole's and Skeels farms.”
opposition, Plaintiffs assert, in pertinent part:
motion fails to grasp the true nature of Plaintiffs'
claims. Plaintiffs have stated, repeatedly, that they are not
making true medical claims, nor will they seek compensation
for any medical bills from any healthcare professional. This
is because Plaintiffs' claims are not based upon medical
injury. They are based fundamentally on their inability to
use and enjoy their property, which may include certain
symptomatic reactions that Plaintiffs may experience as a
result of their exposure to noxious air laden with
Court finds Plaintiffs' argument to be well-taken. In the
Court's view, the physical symptoms experienced by
Plaintiffs are relevant to the extent that they tend to show
their diminished ability to use and enjoy their property.
This issue strikes the Court as one that would likely be
proper to address in a jury instruction. The Court declines,
however, to exclude the evidence altogether; accordingly, the
motion will be denied.
also asserts that “[t]he Court should prevent any
testimony or evidence that Plaintiffs may incur health
problems or medical conditions in the future caused by living
in the vicinity of the Skeels and Cole's farms. Moreover,
the Court should exclude any testimony by Plaintiffs that
they have fears or concerns about potential health problems
or medical conditions in the future that may be caused by
alleged hazardous substances, pathogens, toxins, odors, or
other emanations from the poultry farms.” To this
point, Peco emphasizes that Plaintiffs cannot recover damages
based on their fear of potential future injuries under
assert that they have not and do not intend to seek
compensation for future medical injuries. “Rather,
Plaintiffs only seek recovery for present injuries and
concerns, such as anxiety and discomfort as a result of
Defendant's frequent and unreasonable invasion of
Plaintiffs' properties.” Further, Plaintiffs state
that they “have properly limited any alleged damages to
present inconvenience, annoyance, and discomfort, including
anxiety about their inability to plan for or use their
property, and feeling trapped inside their homes by the
offensive and oppressive odors generated by Defendant.”
Court finds that Peco's motion should be denied, as
Plaintiffs do not appear to be pursuing the future damages
which Peco asserts are impermissible. The Court will not
permit Plaintiffs to attempt to obtain recovery based on
their fear for potential future injuries; however, the Court
finds that Plaintiffs' anxiety and discomfort concerning
the present and future state of their properties is
admissible. Accordingly, the motion will be denied.
requests that the Court exclude “any suggestion at
trial that Peco operates in a manner that supports animal
cruelty[.]” Plaintiffs do not oppose the motion.
Therefore, it will be granted.