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Walker v. Casey's General Stores

December 9, 2009

DONNA R. WALKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CASEY'S GENERAL STORES, INC., A FOREIGN CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

The jury trial in this action will commence on December 14, 2009. Pending before the Court are several motions in limine.

I. Plaintiff's First Motion in Limine

(1) Plaintiff Donna R. Walker first seeks to prevent Defendant Casey's Retail Company, Inc. d/b/a Casey's General Stores, Inc., from making any reference to whether she was involved in any prior or subsequent accidents or may have been allegedly guilty of negligence or contributory negligence in connection with circumstances or events other than the one in question in this case.

Casey's objects to Walker's first request as vague and ambiguous. It is undisputed that Walker had other falls. It appears that the evidence of prior and subsequent falls could be relevant to the damages in this case, though that issue is not yet ripe. Casey's does not specifically contend that the issue of other accidents or falls is relevant in the liability phase. The Court will reserve ruling on the issue.

(2) Walker next seeks to prevent Casey's from making reference to whether she has been involved in any prior or subsequent accidents or suffered from any alleged prior condition or injuries other than those suffered as a result of the event alleged in the complaint, unless an offer of proof is first made out of the presence of the jury which establishes: (a) the other accident or event-in-fact occurred or existed; (b) the alleged prior injuries were in-fact suffered; and (c) medical evidence establishes that the injuries, complaints and symptoms now complained of are causally related to the prior accident, rather than the present accident or event.

In response, Casey's objects to this request as vague and ambiguous.

Casey's notes that it is undisputed that Walker had a previous and subsequent fall. This is established by Walker's own testimony, by medical records and her expert's testimony and records that she fell prior to and subsequent to the incident in this case. Accordingly, it appears that the issue would be relevant in a potential damages phase.

(3) Walker next seeks to exclude any reference to whether subsequent to the injury suffered at Casey's on April 16, 2006, she fell at some time and location and injured the opposite (left) shoulder rather than the shoulder that was injured in the incident at Casey's. According to Walker, such evidence is likely sought to be admitted by Casey's in an effort to demonstrate that she is a "frequent faller," in order to prejudice the jury against Walker.

Casey's again objects to this request as vague and ambiguous. For the reasons already noted, it appears that such evidence may be relevant in a potential damages phase.

(4) Walker seeks to exclude any reference to whether prior to the injury suffered at Casey's on April 16, 2006, she fell on her right elbow in 2004, had X-rays taken of her right shoulder which were negative, and thereafter participated in three weeks of physical therapy. Such evidence is likely sought to be admitted by Casey's in an effort to show that Walker is "not in a good state of health," and thereby prejudice the jury against her.

Casey's alleges that the evidence is directly relevant to the issue of damages. The jury may consider that the prior injury impeded her recovery from any alleged injuries suffered by her fall at Casey's. Therefore, Casey's claims that the evidence is directly relevant to Walker's claimed damages and its exclusion would be prejudicial. The Court finds that the risk of any unfair prejudice to Walker is minor. The evidence appears to be potentially relevant in a damages phase, though the Court will reserve ruling.

(5) Walker next seeks to exclude any reference to whether after the injury suffered at Casey's on April 16, 2006, Walker tripped on a sidewalk on or about January 16, 2008, and injured her left arm and was thereafter treated at the ER and released. Such evidence is likely sought to be admitted to demonstrate that Walker is a "frequent faller."

Casey's again asserts that the issue is relevant to Walker's claim of damages. Moreover, the jury may consider whether Walker's subsequent injury impeded her recovery from any alleged injuries suffered by her fall at Casey's. Although it appears that such evidence may be relevant in a potential damages phase, the Court will reserve ruling.

(6) Walker next seeks to exclude any reference to whether subsequent to the injury suffered at Casey's, she underwent a right total hip arthroplasty. According to Walker, such evidence is likely sought to be admitted by Casey's in an ...


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