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Janusz v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 13, 2013

THOMAS M. JANUSZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, ALAN LUCAS, PARRIS GEORGE, GINA LIBERTI, and AMY MUGAVERO LUCAS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Thomas Janusz brings claims under ยง 1983 for false arrest, unreasonable search, and conspiracy, and under state law for malicious prosecution and abuse of process. Before the court are the parties' motions in limine.

LEGAL STANDARD

"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." Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1984). The court has broad discretion to rule on evidentiary questions raised in motions in limine. Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002). Nevertheless, a court should grant a motion in limine excluding evidence only when the movant shows that the evidence "is inadmissible on all potential grounds." CDX Liquidating Trust ex rel. CDX Liquidating Trustee v. Venrock Assocs., 411 B.R. 591, 597 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (citing Townsend v. Benya, 287 F.Supp.2d 868, 872 (N.D. Ill. 2003), and Robenhorst v. Dematic Corp., No. 05 C 3192, 2008 WL 1821519, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 22, 2008)). "[E]videntiary rulings should [ordinarily] be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context.'" Id. (quoting Hawthorne Partners v. AT&T Techs., Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993)). Rulings on motions in limine are preliminary; "the district court may adjust a motion in limine during the course of a trial." Farfaras v. Citizens Bank & Trust of Chi., 433 F.3d 558, 565 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Luce, 469 U.S. at 41-42); Luce, 469 U.S. at 41-42 ("[A] ruling [in limine] is subject to change when the case unfolds, particularly if the actual testimony differs from what was contained in the defendant's proffer. 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."). Accordingly, the parties may renew their objections at trial as appropriate.

Plaintiff's Motion in Limine Number 1: To Bar Evidence or Testimony Regarding His Possession or Use of Drugs

Janusz moves to bar any evidence that he possessed or used drugs before or after the night of his arrest. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's use of cocaine is relevant because it "was known to the Defendants" and supports their assertion that they had probable cause to arrest Janusz. But Defendants do not explain how they could have known about Janusz's drug use before they searched his apartment and found drugs, an event which occurred after Defendants had already arrested Janusz. Evidence of Janusz's drug use is irrelevant unless Defendants knew about it before they arrested him. Unless Defendants can establish at trial that this was the case, the court will not allow the evidence. Accordingly, the motion is granted.

Plaintiff's Motion in Limine Number 2: To Bar Evidence of Prior Arrests

Janusz moves to bar evidence of his prior arrests. Because Defendants state that they "do not intend to introduce evidence or elicit testimony regarding Plaintiff's 1999 and 2002 arrests, " the motion is granted by agreement. If, at trial, Defendants believe that Janusz has opened the door to evidence of his prior arrests, then they can raise the issue with the court at that time.

Plaintiff's Motion in Limine Number 3: To Bar Defendants from Using the Term "Garden Variety" Emotional Distress

Janusz anticipates that Defendants may argue to the jury that Janusz cannot recover damages other than damages for "garden variety" emotional distress. Janusz moves to bar Defendants from using the phrase "garden variety" emotional distress, contending that the phrase is imprecise and "could be confusing and prejudicial." Janusz will have an opportunity to cure any confusion or prejudice during his counsel's own presentation to the jury, and, as Janusz acknowledges, the court will ultimately instruct the jury as to the law. The motion is denied.

Defendants' Motion in Limine Number 1: To Bar Plaintiff from Presenting Evidence, Testimony, or Argument Relating to Damages for Emotional Injuries or Lost Wages

Defendants previously moved for summary judgment on Janusz's damages claims, contending that Janusz was fully compensated in his state court case for his lost wages, emotional damage from PTSD, exacerbation of his bipolar disorder, and permanent disability. Defendants conceded, however, that Janusz is entitled to seek damages in this case arising from his Fourth Amendment, malicious prosecution, and abuse of process claims. (Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. 15, ECF No. 344.) They noted that Janusz's Fourth Amendment claims involve damages associated with his arrest, the search of his home, and the search of his car. And they argued that Janusz's compensable emotional distress is limited to "garden variety" emotional distress.

In Defendants' motion for summary judgment, they requested that the court limit the damages that Janusz may recover to these damages and preclude him from seeking other damages for which he was already compensated in his state court case. The court granted Defendants' motion.

Defendants now move in limine to bar Janusz from "presenting any evidence, testimony, or argument relating to damages for emotional injuries or lost wages." Defendants argue that introducing such evidence would violate the court's summary judgment order. They contend, for example, that Janusz has no reason to call the mental health professionals who treated him because their testimony is only relevant to establish damages that Janusz has already recovered.

Although Defendants are correct that, consistent with the court's prior rulings, Janusz may not recover damages representing the value of past and future lost earnings, mental suffering, personal humiliation, and the loss of normal life, the relief that Defendants seek-to bar Janusz from "presenting any evidence, testimony, or argument relating to damages for emotional injuries or lost wages"-is too broad because it encompasses evidence that is admissible for other purposes. For example, it encompasses evidence relating to the "garden variety" emotional injury associated with Janusz's arrest and prosecution-an injury for which Defendants concede Janusz may seek damages in this case. Furthermore, evidence of emotional injury or lost wages may be relevant to establish liability. To succeed on his state law malicious prosecution claim, for example, Janusz must prove that he suffered an injury. See Kozel v. Vill. of Dolton, 804 F.Supp.2d 740, 746 (N.D. Ill. 2011) (citing Aguirre v. City of Chi., 887 N.E.2d 656, 662 (2008)). To the extent that Janusz seeks to offer evidence for either of these two purposes, the court will not bar the evidence, subject to Rule 403 considerations. With this understanding, the motion is denied.

Defendants' Motion in Limine Number 2: To Bar Plaintiff from Seeking Damages for the Cost of Legal Services Not Actually Incurred and Not Recoverable at Trial

Janusz agrees that he will not seek any legal fees from the criminal case in excess of what he actually paid. The motion is granted.

Defendants' Motion in Limine Number 3: To Bar the Testimony of Dr. James Pastor

Defendants move to bar the testimony of Dr. James Pastor. Janusz retained Pastor to offer expert opinions regarding two issues: (1) whether the Chicago Police Department's ("CPD's") disciplinary process and system was adequate to identify problematic police officers, and (2) whether Defendants' conduct relating to Janusz's arrest was in accordance with normal police procedures and protocols. Because Janusz agrees that the first issue only relates to his Monell claim-a claim which is no longer part of this case-Janusz agrees not to present any testimony with respect to that issue. The only dispute concerns whether Pastor may testify that Defendants' conduct was not in accordance with normal police procedures and protocols.

Rule 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), govern the admissibility of expert testimony in federal court. See Naem v. McKesson Drug Co., 444 F.3d 593, 607 (7th Cir. 2006). Rule 702 provides that:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702.

In turn, under Daubert, this court must function as a "gatekeeper" to "ensure the reliability and relevancy of expert testimony." Naeem, 444 F.3d at 607 (quoting Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 152 (1999)). "To do so, the district court must ascertain whether the expert is qualified, whether his or her methodology is scientifically reliable, and whether the testimony will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.'" Bielskis v. Louisville Ladder, Inc., 663 F.3d 887, 893 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 702). The court must also ...


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