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Smith v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

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

July 24, 2017

WILLIAM SMITH PLAINTIFF
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC. DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Four motions in limine are pending in this premises liability case. The motions are briefed and ready for adjudication.

         I. Defendant's Motion

         Wal-Mart moves to exclude (1) a medical opinion that plaintiff's injury proximately caused post-traumatic headaches, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic neck pain; (2) evidence of future medical expenses; (3) emergency calls unaccompanied by incident reports; (4) emergency calls and incident reports pertaining to non-violent criminal activity; (5) testimony regarding plaintiff's communication with a store cashier following his stabbing; and (6) the net worth of Wal-Mart Stores East, LP. Defendant also asks the Court to bifurcate the issue of punitive damages. The Court considers each request in turn.

         A. Medical Opinion of Proximate Causation

         Defendant seeks to exclude conclusions by plaintiff's treating physician as to the cause of plaintiff's headaches, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic neck pain. The Court has already ruled that Dr. Goel-designated by plaintiff as his treating physician-will be allowed to testify to facts as they relate to his examination and treatment of plaintiff. Dr. Goel was not timely designated as an expert. Therefore, he will not be permitted to provide expert testimony. Rulings on objections to specific portions of Dr. Goel's testimony are reserved for trial.

         B. Future Medical Expenses

         As the Court stated in its previous Order, plaintiff failed to timely produce evidence establishing with reasonable certainty any future medical expenses he will incur for treatment, prescriptions, or rehabilitation. Docket No. 56. Plaintiff's failure to timely designate an expert opinion regarding future medical expenses precludes him from proposing a specific dollar amount or estimate representing the cost of such expenses at trial, as doing so would necessarily rely on speculation. See Wall v. Swilley, 562 So.2d 1252, 1256 (Miss. 1990) (“Whatever the measure of damages, they may be recovered only where and to the extent that the evidence removes their quantum from the realm of speculation . . . into the daylight of reasonable certainty.”). To the extent that it pertains to future medical expenses, defendant's motion is granted.

         C. Emergency Calls Lacking Incident Reports

         Defendant seeks to exclude all emergency calls that are unaccompanied by a police incident report.

         As defendant's own cases show, the presence or absence of a corroborating incident report certainly impacts the weight assigned to an emergency call for service at trial, but it does not preclude its introduction into evidence. Kroger Co. v. Knox, 98 So.3d 441, 444 (Miss. 2012); Tillman v. Wendy's Int'l, Inc., 252 F.3d 434 (5th Cir. 2001); see also Bennett v. Highland Park Apartments, LLC, 170 So.3d 522, 528 (Miss. Ct. App. 2014) (considering expert testimony on the number of calls for emergency service-with no reference to corroborating police reports- to determine that defendant had constructive knowledge there existed an atmosphere of violence on its premises). The trier of fact retains the duty of assigning or discounting the importance of calls for service.

         D. Emergency Calls and Reports Relating to Non-Violent Criminal Activity

         The calls for service and incident reports produced in this case related to a variety of suspected criminal activity, some of which was non-violent. Wal-Mart objects to these calls and reports as more prejudicial than probative or otherwise irrelevant. The Court reserves ruling on specific objections for trial.

         E. Communication ...


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