ILLINOIS LEAGUE OF ADVOCATES FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY, DISABLED, et al. Plaintiffs,
PATRICK QUINN, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MARVIN E. ASPEN, District Judge.
Presently before us is a Motion to Bar Various Testimonial Affidavits and Exhibits Submitted by Plaintiffs (Dkt. No. 280), filed by Defendants Illinois Department of Human Services ("DHS"), Kevin Casey, and Michelle R.B. Saddler ("DHS Defendants"). As set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiffs seek to represent a class comprised of developmentally disabled individuals who, at any time since January 1, 2011, currently reside or formerly resided at one of two SODCs (State Operated Development Centers)-Jacksonville and Murray-and who oppose transfer from their SODC home to a community integrated living arrangement ("CILA"). (Compl. ¶¶ 1-4, 42-50, 58.) Based on their profound disabilities, the putative class members are entitled to receive a level of care and treatment known as ICF/MR services (Intermediate Care Facility of the Mentally Retarded). As alleged in the complaint, these services are available at three types of facilities: (1) private facilities, known as ICF-DDs (Intermediate Care Facility for Persons with Developmental Disabilities); (2) SODCs; or (3) CILAs, under certain circumstances. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-20, 74, 93-94, 98; see Pls.' Br. ISO Legal Theory (Dkt. No. 159) at 4-5.) Plaintiffs allege that the State of Illinois' decision to close the Murray and Jacksonville SODCs for budgetary reasons and force the disabled residents to move into CILAs violates federal law.
According to Plaintiffs, community-based placements are unsuitable for the needs of the profoundly disabled class members because they pose serious threats to their physical safety and emotional well-being. (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 6-7, 25-27, 31-34, 57-61 & Ex. B (Winkeler & Kelly Affs.).) As a result, Plaintiffs have refused to consent to CILA transfers. Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants have not offered spots at other SODCs or adequate replacement services equivalent to those offered at SODCs. Plaintiffs claim that, to the contrary, Defendants have undertaken a flawed assessment process that has predetermined class members' ability to succeed in a CILA. ( Id. ¶¶ 60-62, 66-74). In addition, Plaintiffs allege that the class members are either unlikely or unable to obtain care at a private ICF-DD facility. ( Id. ) Accordingly, Plaintiffs and their wards have little choice but to move to a CILA. ( See id. ¶ 73.)
Plaintiffs contend that Defendants' conduct-particularly implementation of the allegedly rigged assessment and transfer process-discriminates against the class members on the basis of their disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Rehabilitation Act, denies them equal protection, and deprives them of information and choice as required by the Medicaid Act. They seek injunctive relief preventing the assessment and transfer of Murray residents, the closure of Murray, and appointment of a monitor. A preliminary injunction hearing will begin on January 6, 2014.
In preparation for the hearing, DHS Defendants filed the present motion, seeking to exclude certain materials. DHS Defendants ask that we bar many of the twenty-five declarations submitted by Plaintiffs as the direct testimony of their witnesses. We address DHS Defendants' concerns as necessary below.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
DHS Defendants' motion is essentially a motion in limine. Pursuant to our "inherent authority to manage the course of trials, " we have broad discretion when ruling on evidentiary questions raised by motions in limine. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4, 105 S.Ct. 460, 463 (1984); Perry v. City of Chi., 733 F.3d 248, 252 (7th Cir. 2013); Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002). In limine rulings serve "to ensure the expeditious and evenhanded management of the trial proceedings." Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Servs., 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997); see Tzoumis v. Tempel Steel Co., 168 F.Supp.2d 871, 873 (N.D. Ill. 2001). Such rulings allow the parties to focus their preparations, eliminate delays during trial, and enable us to preemptively exclude "evidentiary submissions that clearly ought not be presented to the jury because they clearly would be inadmissable for any purpose." Jonasson, 115 F.3d at 440; Goldberg v. 401 N. Wabash Venture LLC, No. 09 C 6455, 2013 WL 1816162, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 29, 2013); Casares v. Bernal, 790 F.Supp.2d 769, 775 (N.D. Ill. 2011); Thomas v. Sheahan, 514 F.Supp.2d 1083, 1087 (N.D. Ill. 2007).
Unless the moving party can demonstrate that the challenged evidence is clearly inadmissible on all possible grounds, we must defer our evidentiary ruling until trial. Thomas, 514 F.Supp.2d at 1087; Anglin v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 139 F.Supp.2d 914, 917 (N.D. Ill. 2001); Tzoumis, 168 F.Supp.2d at 873. We can then accurately assess the foundation, relevance, and potential prejudice of the evidence in the context of the trial as a whole. Casares, 790 F.Supp.2d at 775; Thomas, 514 F.Supp.2d at 1087; Tzoumis, 168 F.Supp.2d at 873. In a bench trial, as here, the dangers of unfair prejudice, irrelevancy, and confusion are minimal. See, e.g., Abbott Labs. v. TorPharm, Inc., No. 97 C 7515, 2003 WL 22462614, at *20 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 29, 2003). Because a ruling on a motion in limine is "subject to change as the case unfolds, " we reserve the option of revisiting our preliminary evidentiary determinations as appropriate at trial. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41, 105 S.Ct. at 163; Perry v. City of Chi., 733 F.3d 248, 252 (7th Cir. 2013); Thomas, 514 F.Supp.2d at 1087.
Defendants' motion seeks to bar the exhibits submitted with the declaration of Plaintiffs' Rule 30(b)(6) witness, Rita Winkeler, and to exclude testimony concerning irrelevant or redundant material.
I. EXHIBIT TO MS. WINKELER'S DECLARATION
Rita Winkeler submitted a declaration on behalf of Plaintiff Murray Parents Association ("MPA"). Ms. Winkeler is the President of MPA, which consists of parents, family members, and staff of Murray, as well as others. MPA officially and publicly opposes the closure of Murray and the ...