United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANTS' OMNIBUS MOTION IN
T. WINGATE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
THIS COURT is the defendants' Omnibus Motion in
Limine [Docket no. 263]. Defendants, by
their motion, ask this court to exclude several categories of
evidence. Plaintiffs oppose defendants' request and ask
this court to deny defendants' Omnibus Motion in Limine
[Docket no. 263].
Motion in Limine Standard
States District Court Judge Debra M. Brown stated succinctly
the standard for a motion 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.”
Wechsler v. Hunt Health Sys., Ltd, 381 F.Supp.2d
135, 140 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (citing Luce v. U.S., 469
U.S. 38, 41 n.4, 105 S.Ct. 460, 83 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984))
(emphasis omitted). “Evidence should not be excluded in
limine unless it is clearly inadmissible on all potential
grounds.” Fair v. Allen, No. 09-2018, 2011
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27390, 2011 WL 830291, at *1 (W.D. La. Mar.
3, 2011); see also Hull v. Ford, No. C-05-43, 2008
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3686, 2008 WL 178890, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Jan.
Harkness v. Bauhaus U.S.A., Inc., No.
3:13-CV-00129-DMB-SAA, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17926, at *1-2
(N.D. Miss. Feb. 13, 2015).
court, after reviewing the pleadings, arguments of counsel,
and the relevant jurisprudence, makes the following rulings.
Categories Defendants Seek to Exclude
seek an order excluding several categories of evidence that
they expect plaintiffs to attempt to introduce at the jury
trial of this lawsuit. This court will address each category
individually below. Defendants also ask this court to
sequester all witnesses whom the parties intend to call
during the jury trial of this matter.
Kristan Stubblefield's Blog
Kristan Stubblefield allegedly maintains a blog on the internet
at http://bradandkristan.blogspot.com that documents
what plaintiffs allege that they endured as a result of the
subject motorcycle accident. Defendants acknowledge that the
court will give a preliminary instruction to the jury
forbidding them to conduct independent investigations.
Defendants campaign that the instruction will not be enough
to prevent the prejudice that will occur if a jury member
violates the court's instruction. Defendants further
argue - by citing Rule 801 and 802 of the Federal Rules of
Evidence - that the blog is hearsay, and should be excluded.
respond that the blog is a “source of therapy”
for plaintiff Kristan Stubblefield and the court should not
order her to remove it from the internet. Moreover, says
plaintiffs, the court's preliminary instruction should be
enough to prevent individual jurors from conducting
independent investigation, to include searching for and
reading plaintiff Kristan Stubblefield's blog. Plaintiffs
finally say that they may attempt to introduce the blog at
trial, making defendants' motion moot.
court is persuaded that it does not possess enough
information at this stage of the litigation to order
plaintiff Kristan Stubblefield to remove her blog from the
internet. The complained-of blog may constitute inadmissible
hearsay - an argument that defendants alluded to, yet failed
to expand upon - and, therefore, defendants' motion in
limine on this ground is denied without prejudice. Plaintiffs
must inform the court out of the presence of the jury before
attempting to introduce evidence of the blog.
Medical Expenses Other Than Those Actually Incurred
next ask this court to limit plaintiffs' proof of their
medical expenses to those expenses that they have actually
incurred. For support, defendants cite Miss. Code §
41-9-119. Defendants say that Mississippi adheres
to the collateral source rule, but state that Mississippi is
shifting in its approach to the collateral source rule.
say that the collateral source rule in Mississippi is still
the law, despite defendants' urging of this court to find
to the contrary. Further, say plaintiffs, the case cited by
defendants for the proposition that the collateral source
rule in Mississippi is shifting away from the application of
the rule is, in actuality, a limited exception to the
collateral source rule. That exception is where the evidence
of collateral source payments are admitted for the limited
purpose of impeaching false testimony. Citing Robinson
Prop. Grp., 7 So.3d at 245, 247.
court agrees with plaintiffs that Mississippi adheres to the
collateral source rule. Accordingly, defendants' motion
in limine is denied on this ground.
Third Party Attempts to Interpret Defendants'
ask this court to exclude any testimony from plaintiffs or
their witnesses interpreting defendants' state of mind or
knowledge from any documents produced in discovery by
defendants. To allow such, say defendants, would violate
Rules 602 and 703 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
First, says defendants, plaintiffs expert witnesses do not
possess personal knowledge about the state of mind or
knowledge of defendants. Second, says defendants, plaintiffs
expert witnesses lack the qualifications to offer opinion
testimony about defendants' knowledge or state of mind to
be able to interpret said documents for the jury. Thirdly,
says defendants, plaintiffs did not designate their expert
witnesses as experts to interpret defendants' documents
regarding the state of mind or knowledge of defendants.
say that their expert witnesses are allowed to rely upon the
documentation in formulating their opinions. Moreover, says
plaintiffs, their experts are properly designated and have
the requisite knowledge and experience to formulate an
opinion about defendants' state of mind and knowledge.
court is persuaded that it does not currently possess enough
information to rule on this ground of defendants' motion
in limine. Accordingly, this court will deny the
defendants' motion in limine without prejudice and the
parties may reurge their motion at a later time.
Relative Financial Status of the Parties
next ask this court to order that plaintiffs may not refer to
the relative size, financial condition, or financial status
of the parties. For support, defendants cite Hankins v.
Ford Motor Co., Civ. A. No.
3:08-cv-639-CWR-FKB, 2012 WL 174793 (S.D.Miss. Jan. 20,
2012). In Hankins, United States District Court
Judge Carlon Reeves quoted and adopted the opinion of United
States District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan:
Although Ford is correct that witnesses may not speculate as
to its state of mind, a witness may be allowed to testify
about conclusions Ford reached or what Ford should have known
based on its own documents and data. The line between what is
admissible and not admissible will depend in large part on
the specific questions and responses, and the Court cannot
rule in limine on this matter.
Hankins v. Ford Motor Co., No. 3:08-CV-639-CWR-FKB,
2012 WL 174793, at *6 (S.D.Miss. Jan. 20, 2012)(Citing
Bradley, 2007 WL 4624613, *3 (S.D.Miss. Aug. 3, 2007)).
court is likewise persuaded that defendants' motion in
limine on this ground is question and response specific.
Accordingly, this court denies defendants' motion in
limine without prejudice.
also say that this court should exclude all evidence of
plaintiffs' financial status because introduction of
such: is immaterial and irrelevant (citing Rule 401 of the
Federal Rules of Evidence); and would be more prejudicial than
probative (citing Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of
Evidence). Plaintiffs respond that evidence of
their financial hardship is an integral part of this lawsuit
and, therefore, their financial status is relevant and not
overly prejudicial. This court agrees with plaintiffs that
their financial status, without comparing it to that of
defendants' financial status, is relevant and the
prejudicial nature of such does not substantially outweigh
the probative value. Accordingly, defendants' motion in
limine on this ground is denied.
References to Defendants' Counsel
next ask this court to exclude all references by plaintiffs
or their witnesses to various aspects of defendants'
counsel, namely: the relationship between defendants and
their counsel; defendants' counsels' area of
speciality; the size of defendants' counsels' firm;
and the location of defendants' counsels' firm.
Defendants cite Smerke v. Office Equipment Co. et
al, 158 S.W.2d 302, 303 (Tex. 1941), a Texas Commission
of Appeals case. In that case, the court held that
“personal references to counsel in a case manifestly
have nothing to do with the merits of the case.”
Smerke, at 303.
by their response, appear to be confused about what
defendants are asking this court to exclude. They respond
with the same arguments that they made to defendants'
motion about the relative size and financial status of the
nature, location, size, and speciality of defendants'
counsel is irrelevant to this lawsuit. This court cannot
discern a relevant reason for plaintiff to attempt
introduction of such. ...