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Rosenberg v. Cottrell

July 12, 2007

TIMOTHY E. ROSENBERG AND DEBBIE ROSENBERG, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COTTRELL, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE

Plaintiffs and Defendant have filed various motions in limine seeking the exclusion of certain testimony at trial (Docs. 224, 225, 226, 227, 229, 230, 231, 232, 236, 248, 257 and 258).

The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the trial court to rule on the relevance and admissibility of certain evidence before it is offered at trial. See Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41, n. 4 (1984) (noting that "although the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize in limine rulings, the practice has developed pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to manage the course of trials"); Fed.R.Evid. 104(a) ("Preliminary questions concerning the qualification of a person to be a witness . . . or the admissibility of evidence shall be determined by the court. . . .").

The motion in limine is not found in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor the Federal Rules of Evidence. Deghand v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 980 F.Supp. 1176, 1179 (D.Kan.1997). It serves to ". . . aid the trial process by enabling the Court to rule in advance of trial on the relevance of certain forecasted evidence, as to issues that are definitely set for trial, without lengthy argument at, or interruption of, the trial. " Palmieri v. Defaria, 88 F.3d 136, 141 (2nd Cir. 1996) (quoting Banque Hypothecaire Du Canton De Geneve v. Union Mines, Inc., 652 F.Supp. 1400, 1401 (D.Md. 1987)). It also may save the parties time, effort and cost in preparing and presenting their cases. Pivot Point Intern., Inc. v. Charlene Products, Inc., 932 F.Supp. 220, 222 (N.D.Ill. 1996). At the same time, it is often the better practice to wait until trial to rule on objections when admissibility substantially depends upon what facts may be developed there. See Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 987 (1975); Hunter v. Blair, 120 F.R.D. 667 (S.D.Ohio 1987).

The movant has the burden of demonstrating that the evidence is inadmissible on any relevant ground. Plair v. E.J. Brach & Sons, Inc., 864 F.Supp. 67, 69 (N.D.Ill. 1994). The court may deny a motion in limine when it ". . . lacks the necessary specificity with respect to the evidence to be excluded." National Union v. L. E. Myers Co. Group, 937 F.Supp. 276, 287 (S.D.N.Y. 1996).

At trial, the court may alter its limine ruling based on developments at trial or on its sound judicial discretion. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 (1984). "Denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted at trial." Hawthorne Partners v. A T & T Technologies, Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1401 (N.D.Ill. 1993). Denial only means that the court cannot decide admissibility outside the context of trial. Plair, 864 F.Supp. at 69. A court considering a motion in limine may reserve judgment until trial, so that the motion is placed "in an appropriate factual context." Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. at id. The Court's ruling regarding a motion in limine is "subject to change when the case unfolds" at trial. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41-42 (noting that ". . . even if nothing unexpected happens at trial, the district judge is free, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, to alter a previous in limine ruling"). The Court should exclude evidence on a motion in limine ". . . only when the evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds." Commerce Funding Corp. v. Comprehensive Habilitation Servs., 2005 WL 1026515, *3 (S.D.N.Y. 2005). Guided by these standards, the Court will now rule on the parties' motions in limine.

Doc. 224: Cottrell, Inc.'s, motion in limine regarding the Irvine Report -

That the Court prohibit plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and plaintiffs' expert witnesses from referencing the Irvine report in any manner is DENIED at this time since the admissibility of this evidence substantially depends upon the facts developed at trial and the laying of an appropriate foundation, and so a ruling at this juncture would be premature.

Doc. 225: Cottrell, Inc.'s, motion in limine regarding the 1991 GM Haulaway minutes -

That the Court prohibit plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and plaintiffs' expert witnesses from referencing the GM Haulaway report in any manner is DENIED at this time since the admissibility of this evidence substantially depends upon the facts developed at trial and the laying of an appropriate foundation, and so a ruling at this juncture would be premature.

Doc. 226: Cottrell, Inc.'s, motion in limine regarding the Leaseway document -

That the Court prohibit plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and plaintiffs' expert witnesses from referencing the Leaseway document in any manner is DENIED at this time since the admissibility of this evidence substantially depends upon the facts developed at trial and the laying of an appropriate foundation, and so a ruling at this juncture would be premature.

Doc. 227: Cottrell, Inc.'s, motion in limine regarding the Anchor Motor Freight study -

That the Court prohibit plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and plaintiffs' expert witnesses from referencing the Anchor Motor Freight studies in any manner is DENIED at this time since the admissibility of this evidence substantially depends upon the facts developed at trial and the laying of an appropriate foundation, and so a ruling at this juncture would be premature.

Doc. 229: Cottrell, Inc.'s, motion in limine regarding the BJC document -

That the Court prohibit plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and plaintiffs' expert witnesses from referencing the BJC document in any manner is DENIED at this time since the admissibility of this evidence substantially depends upon the facts developed at trial and the laying of an appropriate foundation, and so a ruling at this juncture would be premature.

Doc. 230: Cottrell, Inc.'s, motion in limine regarding the Flanagan Report from Hepner v. Delavan -That the Court prohibit plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and plaintiffs' expert witnesses from referencing the Flanagan Report in any manner is DENIED at this time since the admissibility of this evidence substantially depends upon the facts developed at trial and the laying of an appropriate foundation, and so a ruling at this juncture would be premature.

Doc. 231: Cottrell, Inc.'s, motion in limine regarding the 1990 Ryder ACD document -

That the Court prohibit plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and plaintiffs' expert witnesses from referencing the 1990 ACD document in any manner is DENIED at this time since the admissibility of this evidence substantially depends upon the facts developed at trial and the laying of an appropriate foundation, and so a ruling at this juncture would be premature.

Doc. 232: Cottrell, Inc.'s, motion in limine regarding the Miller document -

That the Court prohibit plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel and plaintiffs' expert witnesses from referencing the Miller document in any manner is DENIED at this time since the admissibility of this evidence substantially depends upon the facts developed at trial and the laying of an ...


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