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Walker v. Target Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division

July 12, 2017

DR. DEBRA L. WALKER, et al. PLAINTIFFS
v.
TARGET CORPORATION DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In one or more of the numerous opinions already entered in this case, the Court described its background and the legal and factual issues for trial.[1] Both sides filed motions in limine. For the reasons below, the Court grants in part and denies in part both Defendant's and Plaintiffs' Motions in Limine [144, 146].

         A. Defendant's Motion in Limine [144]

         1. Evidence, Experts, Fact Witnesses Not Previously Disclosed

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of all exhibits, expert testimony, and fact witness testimony that was not disclosed during discovery. The Court denies this aspect of Defendant's motion in limine without prejudice to Defendant's right to raise it again at trial as to specific witnesses or evidence.

         2. The Existence of a Legal Duty

         Defendant argues that the Court should bar Plaintiffs' counsel from introducing any evidence or making any comment or argument regarding the nature and extent of Defendant's legal duty. Defendant contends that it is the Court's job to provide instructions in the applicable law.

         The Court agrees that it is the Court's duty to instruct the jury in the applicable law. Banc One Capital Partners Corp. v. Kneipper, 67 F.3d 1187, 1192 (5th Cir. 1995). The Court will provide such instructions prior to closing arguments, and it typically provides the venire with a brief overview of the nature of the case and the issues to be decided during voir dire. The Court assumes that the jury follows its instructions. Weeks v. Angelone, 528 U.S. 225, 234, 120 S.Ct. 727, 145 L.Ed.2d 727 (2000). That being the case, the parties are free to make arguments within the legal framework established by the Court's rulings and instructions. Therefore, the Court denies this aspect of Defendant's motion in limine without prejudice to Defendant's right to raise it again at trial with more specificity.

         3. “Golden Rule” Arguments

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of all “golden rule” arguments. “A Golden Rule argument suggests that the jury place themselves in the plaintiff's position and do unto him as they would have him do unto them.” Learmonth v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 631 F.3d 724, 732 (5th Cir. 2011). Such arguments are improper, and the Court grants Defendant's motion in limine as to this issue. Id.; see also Brown v. Parker Drilling Offshore Corp., 410 F.3d 166, 180 (5th Cir. 2005).

         4. Motions in Limine

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of all evidence, argument, or reference to the parties' motions in limine and the Court's rulings on them. The Court grants this aspect of Defendant's motion as unopposed.

         5. David Lee

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of certain opinions and testimony by Dr. David Lee, including the testimony contained in his affidavit produced on summary judgment. The Court addressed this issue in its order of July 6, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104182 at *7-*8, *14-*16.

         6. Medical Experts/Treating Physicians

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of certain opinion testimony by Plaintiffs' treating physicians. The Court addressed this issue in its order of July 6, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104182 at *3-*11.

         7. Dr. Baylis

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of any expert testimony by Dr. Thomas Baylis and any testimony by Dr. Jeffrey Burns as to treatment provided by Baylis. The Court addressed this issue in its order of July 6, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104182 at *7-*10.

         8. Questionnaire Responses

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of responses to Lacy Sapp's questionnaire from Todd Sitzman, Jennifer Stewart, and Stephen Lambert. The Court addressed this issue in its order of July 6, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104182 at *11-*13.

         9. Dorsal Column Stimulator & RF Ablation

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of all evidence that Mrs. Walker's dorsal column stimulator and radiofrequency ablation treatment are causually related to her slip-and-fall in Target. The Court granted Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on these past and future medical expenses. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104832 at *6-*8. Accordingly, any evidence on these treatments is irrelevant to the issues for trial. The Court grants Defendant's motion in limine on this issue.

         10. Target Guidelines

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of any evidence that its internal guidelines prohibit employees from discussing the cause of an accident with an injured customer. Defendant argues that such evidence is irrelevant to any issue for trial and would only serve to create prejudice and confuse the jury. The Court denies this aspect of Defendant's motion in limine. Defendant's guidelines prohibiting its employees from discussing liability and/or causation of accidents with injured customers are relevant to the credibility of Defendant's employees, the incident report that was generated upon Mrs. Walker's accident, and Mrs. Walker's testimony regarding comments made by a Target employee during his investigation of the area where she slipped.

         11. Wage-Earning Capacity

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of opinions by Lacy Sapp and George Carter as to Mrs. Walker's wage-earning capacity. The Court addressed this issue in its opinion of July 7, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105038, at *3-*5, *9.

         12. Sapp Affidavit

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of an affidavit by Lacy Sapp first produced on summary judgment. The Court addressed this issue in its opinion of July 7, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104832, at *8-*12.

         13. Future Economic Losses

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of George Carter's expert testimony concerning Plaintiffs alleged future economic losses. The Court addressed this issue in its opinion of July 7, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105038, at *9.

         14. Disability Status

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of any testimony that Plaintiff is disabled and unable to work. The Court addressed this issue in its opinion of July 7, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104832, at *2-*6.

         15. Lost Wages / Wage-Earning Capacity

         Defendant seeks the exclusion of any testimony that Plaintiff has suffered lost wages and/or lost wage-earning capacity. The Court addressed this issue in its opinion of July 7, 2017. See Walker, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104832, at *2-*6.

         16. Future ...


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