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Herrera v. Ricky Defendants

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 18, 2016

SALVADOR HERRERA, Plaintiff,
v.
RICKY DEFENDANTS ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court are motions in limine filed by Defendants (Doc. 125). Plaintiff Salvador Herrera filed a response (Doc. 129). The motions were addressed during the Final Pretrial Conference on August 10, 2016, and the Court made its ruling regarding motions in limine 1-4 on the record and took motion in limine #5 under advisement.

         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) (“[A]lthough 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.”). It serves to “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.” Wilson v. Williams, 182 F.3d 562, 566 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing 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. Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Services, 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997).

         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 a ruling in limine 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.

         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, rulings in limine 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. The court should exclude evidence on a motion in limine “only when the evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds.” Jonasson, 115 F.3d at 440.

         With these principles in mind, the Court rules as follows.

Defendants’ Motion In Limine No. 1 - Defendants move to bar Herrera from offering any testimony or otherwise suggesting that the State of Illinois will indemnify Defendants. Herrera does not object. Accordingly, Defendants’ motion is GRANTED.
Defendants’ Motion In Limine No. 2 - Defendants move to bar Herrera’s grievances and responses to grievances as inadmissible hearsay. Defendants’ motion offers the Court very little detail as far as to what the grievances actually contain or how Defendants anticipate their use. For these reasons, the Court RESERVES ruling on this motion in limine. The Court requests that prior to eliciting any testimony regarding any grievances, the subject matter or contents of any grievances, or any documentation of any grievances, that Herrera notify the Court so that it can address the admissibility of the grievances in advance so as to determine if, for example, an offer of proof is necessary.
Defendants’ Motion In Limine No. 3 - Defendants move that Herrera be barred from testifying regarding the causation of any medical or mental health conditions. The Court GRANTS Defendants’ motion to the extent that Herrera is not personally qualified to provide medical expert testimony as to diagnoses, causation or prognosis. Herrera, however, is permitted to testify as to the nature of his pain and other symptoms following the incident in question.
Defendants’ Motion In Limine No. 4 - Defendants move to bar Herrera from offering statements of any medical or mental health professionals. The Court GRANTS Defendants’ motion to the extent that Herrera is not qualified to offer testimony regarding any statements made by any treating medical professionals other than what is documented in the medical records admitted into evidence.
● Defendants’ Motion In Limine No. 5 - Defendants move to bar Herrera from presenting evidence that contradicts the findings of the Prison Disciplinary Board (hereinafter “the Board”). The Court GRANTS Defendants’ motion in limine to the extent that if Herrera testifies that he did not assault or did not participate in the assault of the officers on the date of the incident, the Court will issue appropriate Gilbert instructions because Herrera pled guilty to the Board’s findings that Herrera rushed at least two officers and assaulted Officer Dobbs. Otherwise, the Court will not issue Gilbert instructions ...

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