United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CARLOS R. PIKE, Plaintiff,
PREMIER TRANSPORTATION & WAREHOUSING, INC., ET AL. Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. ROWLAND United States Magistrate Judge.
Carlos R. Pike brings this personal injury action against
Defendants Premier Transportation & Warehousing, Inc. and
Daniel M. Duben, Sr. (“Duben”), alleging that
Duben was negligent in operating a semi-trailer truck. (Dkt.
1-4, ¶ 8). The parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). This Court has subject matter
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Before the Court
are Defendants' contested motions in limine nos. 14, 16
alleges that on September 18, 2012, he suffered injuries to
his knees and back as a result of a collision between
Defendants' semi-trailer truck and Plaintiff's
automobile at the intersection of 31st Street and
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Chicago. Plaintiff claims
that these injuries required him to have multiple sur-
geries. Plaintiff's Complaint contains two counts for
negligence against Premier Transportation & Warehousing,
Inc. (“Premier”) and for negligence against
Duben, the driver of the truck and an employee of Premier at
the time of the accident.
December 11, 2013, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal to
remove Plaintiff's Complaint, originally filed in the
Circuit Court of Cook County, to federal court based on
diversity jurisdiction. All discovery closed on January 19,
2016, and this case is set for trial on November 14, 2016.
motion in limine is “any motion, whether made before or
during trial, to exclude anticipated prejudicial evidence
before the evidence is actually offered.” Luce v.
United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984); see also
American Int'l Adjustment Co. v. Galvin, 86 F.3d
1455, 1463 (7th Cir. 1996) (“A motion in limine is a
useful device for trying to exclude evidence before trial in
order to prevent the trial from being interrupted by wrangles
over admissibility or the jury from getting a whiff of
prejudicial evidence that may in fact be
inadmissible.”). The movant has the burden of
demonstrating that the evidence is “clearly
inadmissible for any purpose.” Plair v. E.J. Brach
& Sons, Inc., 864 F.Supp. 67, 69 (N.D. Ill. 1994).
District courts have broad discretion in ruling on motions in
limine, but evidence should not be excluded before trial
unless it is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds.
Kiswani v. Phoenix Sec. Agency, Inc., 247 F.R.D.
554, 557 (N.D. Ill. 2008). Otherwise, rulings should be
deferred until trial so questions of foundation, competency,
relevancy, and potential prejudice may be resolved in the
proper context. Id.
court's decision to deny a motion in limine does not mean
that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted
at trial. “Rather, denial means the court cannot
determine whether the evidence should be excluded outside the
trial context.” McClain v. Anchor Packing Co.,
1996 WL 164385, at *2 (N.D. Ill. 1996). Accordingly,
“[t]he ruling is subject to change when the case
unfolds . . . 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.” Luce, 469 U.S. at 41-42;
Kiswani, 247 F.R.D. at 557 (“Trial judges may
alter prior in limine rulings, within the bounds of
sound judicial discretion.”) (internal citation and
quotation marks omitted).
Defendants' Motions in Limine
14: Defendants move to bar statements, comments,
testimony, or inferences related to whether Defendants were
safe or acted as a safe company, or any reference related to
safety standards, testing, or evaluations. Plaintiff argues
that evidence of whether Defendants were safe speaks directly
to the fact in controversy, negligence. Plaintiff contends
that this evidence is relevant and the probative value
outweighs the prejudice, if any, to Defendants. The Court
takes motion no. 14 under advisement. The Court requests that
parties' counsel be prepared to present oral argument on
this motion during the final pre-trial conference on October
31, 2016. The Court finds this motion to be broad, and
without specificity regarding, for ex- ample, what the
parties mean by “safe”, whether the motion seeks
to bar certain evidence, such as of subsequent remedial
measures, and whether it is meant to apply to expert
testimony, or all evidence. The Court also notes that the
parties provided minimal authority to support their
respective positions. In this motion, Defendants cited only
Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 401, and Plaintiff's
response cited only FRE 403 and a Sixth Circuit Court of
Appeals decision for a general discussion of FRE 403.
16: Defendants move to bar argument or testimony
suggesting a mathematical formula to the jury for awarding
damages including a per diem or formula. Plaintiff argues
that standard mortality tables are admissible evidence.
Defendants' motion in limine no. 16 is taken under
advisement. Under Illinois law, mortality tables are admitted
in wrongful death actions or personal injury cases involving
permanent injuries, to help the jury determine future
damages. Danzico v. Kelly, 112 Ill.App.2d 14, 29
(1st Dist. 1969); Savka v. Smith, 58 Ill.App.3d 12,
17, 15 Ill.Dec. 579, 583 (3d Dist. 1978); Leggett v.
Kumar, 212 Ill.App.3d 255, 281, 156 Ill.Dec. 527, 543
(2d Dist. 1991). In injury cases, life expectancy tables
should not be admitted when pain and suffering is recurrent,
but not permanent. Savka, 58 Ill.App.3d at 17-18.
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that his injuries are
“permanent and lasting.” (Dkt. 1-4, at 5, 7). But
Defendants deny the nature and extent of the injuries, and
deny that Plaintiff's medical charges were for injuries
that were causally related to the collision (Dkt. 54 at 2).
As a result, decision on this motion in limine will be
deferred until trial.
20: Defendants move to bar Plaintiff from talking to
prospective jurors regarding the facts of the case or
attempting to illicit a pledge or promise from prospective
jurors to return a substantial verdict in “millions of
dollars” or words to that effect. Plaintiff argues that
this questioning is proper and helps to secure an impartial
jury. Defendants' motion in limine no. 20 is granted in
part and denied in part.
Court grants the motion in part to bar questions to
prospective jurors about their specific experiences related
to the facts of this case. Such questions that tend to put
prospective jurors in the place of the parties “open a
wide range of possibilities for indoctrination or
pre-education of jurors.” Gasiorowski v.
Homer,47 Ill.App.3d 989, 994, 7 Ill.Dec. 758, 761 (1st
Dist. 1977). Counsel for the parties also may not ask
questions during voir dire to illicit a pledge from
jurors about how they would decide under a given state of
facts or which party they would favor assuming a certain set
of evidence. Id. at 992. However, the motion in
limine is denied to the extent that it seeks to bar questions
designed to expose any latent prejudice by potential jurors
against large verdicts, such as the questions in
Scully including whether recovery of $600, 000 would
be “too much money for anybody” or Question no. 9
in Plaintiff's proposed voir dire questions
(Dkt. 54 at ...