United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
May 21, 2004.
EDWARD ACEVEDO, Plaintiff;
DENNIS CANTERBURY, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES KOCORAS, District Judge
This matter comes before the court on the parties' motions in limine.
Plaintiff Edward Acevedo has filed nine motions; Defendant Dennis
Canterbury has filed eleven.
The power to exclude evidence pursuant to motions in limine is part and
parcel of a district court's authority to manage trials. Falk v. Kimberly
Servs., 1997 WL 201568, *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 16, 1997). Motions in limine
should be granted only when the evidence under attack is clearly
inadmissible on all potential grounds. Hawthorne Partners v. A.T. & T.
Technologies. Inc., 831 F. Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993). The
admissibility of some proposed evidence cannot be determined without a
proper frame of reference, and motions in limine pertaining to such evidence
should be denied. See Tzoumis v. Tempel Steel Co., 168 F. Supp.2d 871,
873 (N.D. Ill. 2001). Of course, such a denial does not mandate that the
subject evidence be admitted at trial; rather, it allows the court to
address pertinent questions of admissibility within a proper context.
Hawthorne Partners. 831 F. Supp. at 1400-01. Moreover, a district court
can alter a previous ruling on a motion in limine. Luce v. U.S.,
49 U.S. 38, 41-42, 105 S.Ct. 460 (1984). With these principles in mind, we
address the motions before us.
Several of the respective motions have not been challenged and their
bases are meritorious: Acevedo's first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh,
and ninth motions and Canterbury's first, third, tenth, and eleventh
motions. Consequently, these motions are granted.
1. Acevedo's Motions
Acevedo's third motion would bar Canterbury from referring to or using
any photographs or exhibits not previously produced or identified. In
response, Acevedo calls the court's attention to photographs taken of the
location of an altercation described within the complaint. He admits that
the photographs were not produced before discovery closed in this case in
December 2003. However, Acevedo claims that these pictures were given to
Canterbury's counsel in February, two months before a date was set for trial. Canterbury does not dispute this fact.
Accordingly, it appears that Canterbury is not prejudiced by the delay in
receiving the materials, and their tardy arrival will cause no disruption
of the upcoming trial. Canterbury has made no claim that Acevedo
willfully withheld the photographs, and we can detect none. Accordingly,
we conclude that Acevedo's failure to turn the photographs over before
the discovery cut-off date was harmless, and their exclusion is not
warranted. See David v. Caterpillar, 324 F.3d 851, 857 (7th Cir. 2003).
The third motion is consequently denied.
Canterbury also attacks Acevedo's sixth motion, which seeks to bar
Canterbury from eliciting testimony from lay witnesses on the issue of
whether Acevedo was intoxicated at the time of the incidents alleged in
the complaint. Canterbury argues that lay persons are not qualified to
offer opinions on blood alcohol level. While this is true, evidence of
intoxication is not limited to these medical measurements. Other
indicators are well within the experience of the average adult. See,
e.g., People v. Vanzandt, 679 N.E.2d 130, 136 (Ill.App. Ct. 1997).
Although this evidence may raise questions of credibility, it does not
point to wholescale inadmissibility. Thus, Acevedo's sixth motion in
limine is denied.
The last of Acevedo's disputed motions attempts to bar Canterbury from
referring to the outcome of the investigation performed by Internal
Affairs of Acevedo. We agree with Acevedo that this evidence is likely to confuse the
jury, and its prejudicial effect outweighs its potential probative value.
Accordingly, Acevedo's eighth motion is granted. However, this ruling
will not apply to the use of the statements if they are used solely to
refresh a witness's recollection or for impeachment purposes.
2. Canterbury's Motions
The first of Canterbury's disputed motions pertains to information
about the wealth or poverty of the parties. Canterbury asks the court to
bar introduction of this evidence; Acevedo quarrels only within the
context of the complaint's prayer for an award of punitive damages.
Certainly, if Acevedo continues to pursue punitive damages, Canterbury's
financial situation will be very relevant. See Kemezy v. Peters,
79 F.3d 33, 35-36 (7th Cir. 1996). Thus, the motion is granted with
respect to the compensatory damage claims that Acevedo seeks but denied
with respect to any case he may put on for punitives.
The second disputed motion filed by Canterbury requests that Acevedo be
prohibited from referring to Canterbury's prior arrests or convictions or
any disciplinary actions taken against Canterbury or his witnesses.
Acevedo responds only that such evidence should be available to him for
rebuttal purposes if Canterbury attempts to paint himself or his
witnesses in a positive light through mention of awards and the like. The evidence may be allowable in that situation. With
respect to other evidence within the potential reach of this motion, we
are not convinced from the sparse presentation the parties have offered
that it would be inadmissible in all circumstances. This is particularly
so with respect to the witnesses other than Canterbury. If, for example,
a disciplinary action was taken against a witness because of behavior
that would be probative of the witness's truthfulness or untruthfulness,
questioning in that area would be permissible under Fed.R.Evid. 608(b)
but would be barred by this broad motion. Accordingly, the request to
categorically exclude this broad range of evidence is denied. Particular
matters are better left for trial evaluation.
The third disputed motion is tied to the second but specifically
involves so-called "Complaint Register Numbers." As neither party
explains what this evidence comprises, we have no basis to conclude that
it should be treated any differently from that in the second disputed
motion. Thus, this motion is also denied.
The fourth disputed motion involves evidence of injuries, treatment,
examinations or bills that Acevedo did not disclose in his answers to
interrogatories. Acevedo counters that he should also be allowed to
testify about these issues as disclosed hi his interrogatories as well as
his deposition testimony. We agree that if these two bodies of
information are not congruent, Canterbury would still have been properly
notified of the extent of Acevedo's medical situation, and any disparity
is harmless. Consequently, Acevedo will not be allowed to present evidence
of injuries, treatment, examinations, or bills that he did not disclose
either in his interrogatories or his deposition testimony.
The fifth and sixth disputed motions both implicate Acevedo's
competence to testify to the specifics of his medical diagnosis and
prognosis. At this point in the proceedings, we do not have a sufficient
context to weed out impermissible testimony. Thus, these motions are
The final disputed motion filed by Canterbury seeks to preclude Acevedo
from introducing any evidence of his damages through unpaid medical
bills. Canterbury correctly notes that Acevedo must show both that he has
paid or become liable to pay a specific amount for medical services
rendered and that the charges he incurred were reasonable. See Barreto
v. City of Waukegan, 478 N.E.2d 581, 589 (Ill.App. Ct. 1985). Clearly,
unpaid medical bills will satisfy the first prong, and indeed Canterbury
only contests Acevedo's ability to satisfy the second. Canterbury
contends that Illinois case law requires a plaintiff to prove that a bill
has been paid before a proper foundation of reasonableness can be shown.
Aside from the fact that Canterbury's construction of the rule is
internally inconsistent because it would nullify the portion of the first
prong that speaks to mere liability for payment, it is not a correct
statement of the totality of treatment the issue has received from the
Illinois courts. Payment of a bill is a sufficient method of showing reasonableness of medical
charges, but it is by no means the sole method. See Baker v. Hutson,
775 N.E.2d 631, 638 (Ill.App. Ct. 2002) (discussing methods of
establishing the reasonableness of unpaid medical charges). As a result,
the motion to exclude unpaid medical bills is denied.
Based on the foregoing discussion, the following motions in limine are
granted: Acevedo's first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, and
ninth and Canterbury's first, third, sixth (as discussed above), tenth,
and eleventh. The following motions in limine are denied: Acevedo's third
and sixth and Canterbury's second, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, and
ninth. The objections to jury instructions offered by the parties in the
final pretrial order will be addressed by the trial judge.
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