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Bryant v. P.O. Cummens

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 30, 2017

ELIGA BRYANT, Plaintiff,
v.
P.O. CUMMENS, #2730 individually and in his official capacity as a CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER; P.O. HURMAN, #2998 individually and in his official capacity as a CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Jeffrey T. Gilbert, United Stares Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiffs Motions in Limine [114] are granted in part, denied in part, and remain under advisement in part. Defendants' Motions in Limine [113] are granted in part, denied in part, and remain under advisement in part. See Statement below for further details.

         STATEMENT

         The Court's rulings on the parties' motions in limine are as follows.

         A. Plaintiffs Motions in Limine

         1. Motion No. 1

         Plaintiffs first motion in limine seeks to bar Defendants from "impeach[ing] testimony of [Plaintiff] with evidence of any prior arrests or of any conviction over 10 years old, or refer[ring] to such in any manner whatsoever." [114], at 1. Defendants object to this motion to the extent it would preclude them from introducing evidence of Plaintiffs prior arrests and convictions for the purposes of damages. [116], at 1-2.

         The premise underlying Defendants' argument-that a plaintiff who previously has been arrested will suffer less emotional distress from a subsequent false arrest-has been questioned. Belts v. City of Chicago, III, 784 F.Supp.2d 1020, 1025-27 (N.D. Ill. 2011). Nevertheless, courts have not rejected this theory of relevance out of hand. See, e.g., Redmond v. City of Chicago, 2008 WL 539164, at *9 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 26, 2008). Often, courts "have found that 'to be relevant, the arrests must be substantially similar and the court must conduct a prejudice analysis.'" Blackwell v. Kalinowski, 2011 WL 1557542, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 25, 2011) (quoting Moore v. City of Chicago, 2008 WL 4549137, *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 15, 2008)); see also Dyson v. Szarzynski, 2014 WL 7205591, at *5 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 18, 2014). Where the parties have failed to present the Court with sufficient information to assess the similarity of prior arrests and the unfair prejudice that would result from admitting evidence of them, courts have refused to rule in limine that such evidence is admissible. See Dyson, 2014 WL 7205591, at *6 ("Neither party has presented the court with a comprehensive list of Dyson's prior arrests, let alone facts that might allow the court to differentiate between these prior arrests."); Blackwell, 2011 WL 1557542, at *4 ("At this juncture, it is simply not clear whether Blackwell's October 17, 2007 arrest involves facts similar to his prior arrests."); Maldonado v. Stinar, 2010 WL 3075680, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 5, 2010) ("In this case. Defendants have not demonstrated that any of Plaintiff s prior arrests involved similar facts or circumstances. ... At the same time, it would be highly prejudicial to Plaintiff to allow the jury to hear this evidence."); Brandon v. Fill, of Maywood, 179 F.Supp.2d 847, 855 (N.D. Ill. 2001) ("There is no indication that either of Mr. Parker's previous arrests involved similar facts, so their probative value is quite low.").

         In this case, neither party has provided the Court sufficient information to adequately determine the probative value of evidence related to Plaintiffs prior arrests and convictions that are more than 10-years-old or the unfair prejudice that would result from admitting that evidence. No party has identified for the Court what prior arrests and convictions are at issue, when they occurred, what they were for, and under what circumstances they occurred. Further, Defendants have not explained how convictions, as distinguished from arrests, are probative of the emotional distress suffered by Plaintiff during the March 1, 2010 incident. Therefore, Plaintiffs Motion in Limine No. 1 remains under advisement. This matter will be addressed further at the pretrial conference.[1]

         2. Motion No. 2

         Plaintiffs second motion in limine seeks to bar the impeachment of any trial witness's testimony "with any arrest or conviction that is more than 10 years old." [114], at 1. Defendants do not object to this motion. [116], at 2. Therefore, Plaintiffs Motion in Limine No. 2 is granted.

         3. Motion No. 3

         Plaintiffs third motion in limine seeks to bar all "evidence of any prior hearing loss related to" Plaintiff. [114], at 1. The only justification for this motion that Plaintiff provides is Defendants' supposed failure to offer expert testimony related to his prior hearing loss. Id. Defendants object to this motion and argue that they should be permitted to introduce medical records that show Plaintiffs hearing loss was caused by something other than the March 1, 2010 incident.[2] To the extent such records exist, they would seem to be relevant. Defendants, though, do not state whether any such records exist but, instead, explain that they received some of Plaintiff s medical records only shortly before they filed their response brief The Court also notes that the parties have stated at multiple status hearings that, after that filing, Defendants obtained additional medical records. In light of the production of additional medical records, Plaintiffs Motion in Limine No. 3 remains under advisement. This matter will be addressed further at the pretrial conference.

         4. Motion No. 4

         Plaintiffs fourth motion in limine seeks to bar "testimony that [Plaintiffs] death was not related to injuries sustained in the instant case" because "no expert testimony has been offered as to such." [114], at 2. Defendants object to this motion. [116], at 4. Defendants want to read a stipulation to the jury stating that Plaintiff is deceased and that his death is unrelated to his encounter with the police on March 1, 2010. According to Defendants, Plaintiff never has claimed that his death was related to this encounter and there is no evidence, that they know of, that indicates as much. For the reasons discussed with respect to Defendants' Motions in Limine No. 21, Plaintiffs fourth motion in limine is denied.

         5. Motion No. 5

         Plaintiffs fifth motion in limine seeks to bar "Defendants from raising any facts related to Plaintiff being assaulted, attacked, or injured in any unrelated cases in his lifetime." [114], at 2. Defendants object to this motion, [116], at 7. According to Defendants, Plaintiff complained to one of his doctors-who Defendants refer to only as "Dr. Young"-about neck pain and Dr. Young found Plaintiff actually did suffer from neck pain. Id. Defendants say that Plaintiff previously was stabbed in the neck and they want to be allowed to cross-examine Dr. Young about whether Plaintiffs neck pain could have been caused by the stabbing, instead of the March 1, 2010 incident involved in this case. To the extent Plaintiff introduces evidence that he suffered from neck pain, the evidence Defendants want to elicit from Dr. Young on cross-examination could be relevant. Therefore, Plaintiffs Motion in Limine No. 5 is denied. See Mason v. City of Chicago, 631 F.Supp.2d 1052, 1055 (N.D, Ill. 2009) (explaining that motions in limine to exclude evidence are only granted where that evidence is inadmissible "on all potential grounds").

         6. Motion No. 6

         Plaintiffs sixth motion in limine seeks to bar "Defendants from raising that Plaintiff was involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit in 1980 after sustaining injuries from a stabbing." [114], at 2. Defendants do not object to this motion. [116], at 7. Therefore, Plaintiffs Motion in Limine No. 6 is granted.

         7. Motion No. 7

         Plaintiffs seventh motion in limine seeks to bar "Defendants from raising evidence or argument that any of Plaintiffs medical treatment was unwarranted or unrelated to the incident at bar, or from arguing that the medical bills for such treatment were excessive and/or not paid or covered by public aid." [114], at 2. As with many of Plaintiff s motions, the only basis for this motion is the "[l]ack of expert testimony." Id. Defendants object to this motion, noting that they have not yet reviewed all of the medical records and that medical evidence is relevant only to the extent it is causally connected to the March 1, 2010 incident. [116], at 7. Defendants"' response did not address the issues Plaintiff raised with respect to the excessiveness or non-payment of medical bills, or whether Plaintiffs bills were covered by public aid.

         In this case, the Court starts from the proposition that the only relevant medical evidence (whether of medical treatment, diagnoses, or bills) is that which is causally related to the March 1, 2010 incident. It appears that the parties agree unrelated medical evidence should not be admitted. Neither party, however, has provided enough information for the Court to determine what evidence is or is not admissible. In addition, because Plaintiffs motion and Defendants' response do not flesh out the other issues raised by Plaintiffs motion, the motion remains under advisement. This matter will be addressed further at the pretrial conference.

         B. Defendants' ...


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