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Tommy L. Taylor v. Union Pacific Railroad Company

December 27, 2010

TOMMY L. TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on a motion in limine brought by Plaintiff Tommy L. Taylor (Doc. 134). This case is an action under the Federal Employer's Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq., and the Locomotive Inspection Act, 49 U.S.C. § 20701 et seq. Taylor claims that on December 28, 2007, he was working as a locomotive engineer for Defendant Union Pacific Railroad Company ("UP"), operating Locomotive UP 9315 on a run from Dexter, Missouri, to Dupo, Illinois.

Over the course of approximately four hours, according to Taylor, he was exposed to sulfuric acid fumes from defective, overheating locomotive batteries on board UP 9315. As a result of the said exposure, Taylor asserts that he suffers from a pulmonary disease, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, and is totally disabled. Currently this case is set for trial solely on the issue of liability on January 3, 2011, at 8:00 a.m. at the United States District Courthouse in East St. Louis, Illinois, the undersigned United States District Judge presiding.

Although neither the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor the Federal Rules of Evidence provide expressly for the exclusion of evidence in limine before trial, "[i]n general, federal district courts have the power to exclude evidence in limine pursuant to their inherent authority to manage trials." Farley v. Miller Fluid Power Corp., No. 94 C 2273, 1997 WL 757863, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 24, 1997) (citing Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n. 4 (1984)). The party seeking the exclusion of evidence in limine bears the burden of showing the propriety of such exclusion. See Capuano v. Consolidated Graphics, Inc., Civil Action No. 06 C 5924, 2007 WL 2688421, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 7, 2007). Decisions regarding the exclusion of evidence in limine, like decisions about the admissibility of evidence generally, are committed to a court's sound discretion. See Juracek v. City of O'Fallon, Ill. Police Dep't, Civil No. 05-787-GPM, 2007 WL 3407367, at *2 (S.D. Ill. Nov. 14, 2007); Thomas v. Sheahan, 514 F. Supp. 2d 1083, 1087 (N.D. Ill. 2007) (citing Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002)).

Evidence may be excluded in limine before trial only where it is clearly inadmissible for any purpose and, "if evidence is not clearly inadmissible, evidentiary rulings must be deferred until trial to allow questions of foundation, relevancy and prejudice to be resolved in context." Greenwich Indus., L.P. v. Specialized Seating, Inc., No. 02 C 5000, 2003 WL 21148389, at *1 (N.D. Ill. May 16, 2003).

In the instant motion in limine, Taylor seeks to exclude at trial the following categories of evidence and argument:

(1) references to the fact that Taylor receives benefits from the United States Railroad Retirement Board ("USRRB");

(2) references to any arrests or indictments that did not lead to conviction and to any convictions that do not involve dishonesty or false statement;

(3) any document, photograph, or video that was requested by Taylor during the discovery process, but that was not made available to Taylor in discovery;

(4) testimony or evidence that UP is a "safe railroad," is a leader in safety in the railroad industry, or has received any safety awards from the Federal Railroad Administration, Association of American Railroads, or any other group;

(5) evidence and argument about when, why, and under what circumstances Taylor hired or consulted with an attorney or any actions Taylor took or did not take on advice of counsel;

(6) references to the fact that Taylor has sought to preclude information or facts from the jury, regardless of whether the Court granted or denied the request;

(7) any evidence regarding UP's "vocational rehabilitation program," light duty program, or any other financial assistance program offered by UP and, further, how and in what manner Taylor applied for or refused any purported offers of assistance;

(8) references to how or in what way Taylor will use any money that may be awarded to him following a ...


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