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Carlson v. Bukovic

May 4, 2009

JUNE O. CARLSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SCOTT BUKOVIC AND THE CITY OF DARIEN, AN ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Nan R. Nolan

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff June O. Carlson has charged Officer Scott Bukovic with unreasonable seizure in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and are set to proceed to trial on June 15, 2009. Currently before the court are Officer Bukovic's motions in limine and motion to bar expert opinions from Ms. Carlson's treating physicians. For the reasons set forth below, the motions in limine and motion to bar are granted in part and denied in part.

DISCUSSION

A. Motions in Limine

A motion in limine is "any motion, whether made before or during trial, to exclude anticipated prejudicial evidence before the evidence is actually offered." Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984). See also American Int'l Adjustment Co. v. Galvin, 86 F.3d 1455, 1463 (7th Cir. 1996) ("A motion in limine is a useful device for trying to exclude evidence before trial in order to prevent the trial from being interrupted by wrangles over admissibility or the jury from getting a whiff of prejudicial evidence that may in fact be inadmissible.") District courts have broad discretion in ruling on motions in limine, but evidence should not be excluded before trial unless it is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds. Kiswani v. Phoenix Sec. Agency, Inc., 247 F.R.D. 554, 557 (N.D. Ill. 2008). Otherwise, rulings should be deferred until trial so questions of foundation, competency, relevancy, and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context. Id.

A court's decision to deny a motion in limine does not mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted at trial. "Rather, denial means the court cannot determine whether the evidence should be excluded outside the trial context.'" McClain v. Anchor Packing Co., No. 89 C 6226, 1996 WL 164385, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 3, 1996) (quoting Wolfe v. Howmedica, Inc., No. 94 C 4117, 1996 WL 10901, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 10, 1996)). Accordingly, "[t]rial judges may alter prior 'in limine rulings, within the bounds of sound judicial discretion.'" Kiswani, 247 F.R.D. at 557 (quoting Townsend v. Benya, 287 F. Supp. 2d 868, 872 (N.D. Ill. 2003)).

Officer Bukovic has filed 13 motions in limine, seven of which are contested. The court addresses all of the motions below.

1. Unopposed Motions

Ms. Carlson does not object to Officer Bukovic's motions in limine regarding witnesses, insurance, indemnification, settlements and Monell claims. Thus, motions in limine 1-6 are granted as follows:

(1) non-party witnesses who will testify in this case will be excluded from the courtroom until they are called to testify;

(2) Ms. Carlson will not make any reference to the City of Darien's insurance, FED. R. EVID. 411;

(3) any witnesses not disclosed pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 26 and 37 are excluded from testifying;

(4) any evidence of indemnification is excluded, see Delgado v. Mak, No. 06 C 3757, 2008 WL 4367458, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 31, 2008) (quoting Lawson v. Trowbridge, 153 F.3d 368, 379 (7th Cir. 1998)) ("In the general case courts exclude evidence of indemnification out of a fear that it will encourage a jury to inflate its damages award because it knows the government - not the individual defendants - is footing the bill.");

(5) all evidence of settlement negotiations between the parties, including Paul Carlson and Wal-Mart, is excluded; and

(6) all evidence regarding the policies, practices, customs and procedures of the City of Darien and/or the Darien Police Department is excluded. In addition, Ms. Carlson may not inquire into whether Officer Bukovic received prior citizen complaints or internal discipline, or has ever been sued for any alleged violations of someone's civil rights. FED. R. EVID. 404(b); Carr v. City of Chicago, 911 F.2d 736 (Table) (7th Cir. 1990).

2. Disputed Motions

The parties dispute the remaining motions in ...


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