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Maroney v. CSX Transportation

July 21, 2010

BERNARD R. MARONEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE

The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the trial court to rule on the relevance and admissibility of evidence before it is offered at trial. See Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41, n.4 (1984)("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....").

Although found neither in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor in the Federal Rules of Evidence, Deghand v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 980 F. Supp. 1176, 1179 (D. Kan. 1997), motions in limine 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 (2d Cir. 1996).

Motions in limine 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). Often, however, the better practice is to wait until trial to rule on objections, particularly when admissibility substantially depends upon facts which 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).

The movant has the burden of demonstrating that the evidence is inadmissible on any relevant ground, "for any purpose." 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." Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh v. L.E. Myers Co. Group, 937 F. Supp. 276, 287 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Moreover, the court may alter an limine ruling based on developments at trial or sound judicial discretion. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41.

"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. AT&T Tech., 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.

Clearly, a court may reserve judgment until trial, so that the motion in limine is placed "in an appropriate factual context." Nat'l Union, 937 F. Supp. at 287. Stated another way, motion in limine rulings are "subject to change when the case unfolds" at trial. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41.Indeed, "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." Id.

On July 2, 2010, Defendant CSX filed its motions in limine (Doc. 23, a single pleading containing twenty numbered sub-parts). Plaintiff Maroney responded on July 9, 2010 (Doc. 28). The Court took the motions under advisement at the July 16, 2010 final pretrial conference and now rules as follows, using the numbered paragraphs found in CSX's motion.

1. Reference to indemnity/insurance coverage of CSX: Motion is DENIED. This subject is covered by the Federal Rules of Evidence, rendering a pretrial motion in limine unnecessary.

This denial is without prejudice to raising the motion at trial, if necessary and appropriate.

2. Reference to CSX's size, solvency, financial condition: Motion is GRANTED.

3. Reference to other claims, lawsuit, settlements of CSX: Motion is DENIED. Movant has not met the burden of showing the evidence to be clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds.

4. Settlement discussions, negotiations, offers, agreements: Motion is DENIED. This subject is covered by the Federal Rules of Evidence, rendering a ...


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