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Smith v. Union Insurance Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

June 13, 2017

ANTHONY SMITH PLAINTIFF
v.
UNION INSURANCE COMPANY DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI

         Now before the Court is plaintiff Anthony Smith's (“Smith”) Consolidated Motion in Limine [176], wherein he asserts seventeen different motions in limine. Defendant Union Insurance Company (“Union”) filed a response, stating its position as to each of the seventeen motions. The Court has considered the parties' arguments, in addition to relevant authorities, and is now prepared to rule.

         The Court has set forth the factual and procedural background which has led the case to its present posture multiple times in previous orders. It will, therefore, refrain from doing so again now and, instead, focus solely upon the substance of the seventeen different motions urged by Smith. As set forth below, the Court finds that some of the motions are well-taken, while others are not. Accordingly, the consolidated motion will be granted in part.

         Standard for Motions in Limine

          “The 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.”[1] Id. (quoting Fair v. Allen, 2011 WL 830291, at *1 (W.D. La. Mar. 3, 2011)) (emphasis added).

         Evidentiary 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)).

         This 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.

         Discussion

         The Court will address each of Smith's seventeen motions in turn.

         First Motion:

         Smith's first motion relates to his receipt of social security funds. On this point, he argues that Union should not be able to use the fact that Smith has received funds from a collateral source, which is wholly independent of the alleged wrongdoing, as a mitigating factor for the damage caused by its conduct. Union states that it does not oppose this request. It will be granted.

         Second Motion:

         In his second motion, Smith argues that “[a]ny reference or suggestion that Union Insurance Company is now sorry or regrets the conduct in question is an improper appeal for jury sympathy” and should therefore be excluded. The motion is unopposed and will be granted.

          Third Motion:

         Smith's third motion requests exclusion of “[a]ny claim or comment regarding the financial consequences of any judgment rendered against [Union] in this proceeding or that any payment made by [Union] may effect premiums or costs to the insurance company and therefore result in an increase of premiums charged to other businesses, or the public in general.” Union does not oppose this request. Therefore, it will be granted.

         Fourth Motion:

         Smith's next motion requests that the Court prohibit any statements by defense counsel comparing Smith's decision to file a lawsuit to “playing the lottery” or any similar phrase. Smith avers that a comment of this nature is done solely for the purpose of inflaming the jury and should be excluded.

         In response, Union states that it “has no intention of using the terms, ‘playing the lottery', ‘lotto or powerball', or ‘roll of the dice'. Therefore, it does not oppose this request.” The motion will be granted.

         Fifth ...


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