United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
PHILIP A. GIUFFRE, Plaintiff,
P.O. KAREN JEFFERSON #6856, P.O. AMY HURLEY #19490, P.O. MICHAEL SHEPHARD #9736, P.O. MARLENE SMOLEK #5499, P.O. MALCOLM DOMIO #7900, P.O. MAUREEN WEBB #12525, and the CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee United States District Judge
Philip Giuffre, a firefighter employed by the City of
Chicago, has sued City of Chicago police officers Karen
Jefferson, Amy Hurley, Michael Shephard, Marlene Smolek,
Malcolm Domio, and Maureen Webb (together, “the Officer
Defendants”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff alleges that, on July 11, 2013, the Officer
Defendants pulled into a parking lot where he was sitting,
ordered him to exit his car, and shot him multiple times.
Based on these allegations, Plaintiff brings a Fourth
Amendment claim for use of excessive force, as well as a
state law battery claim. The City of Chicago is a party to
the suit as a nominal defendant, because it has agreed to
indemnify the Officer Defendants for any compensatory damages
before trial, Defendants filed a motion in limine
 seeking to bar Plaintiff from claiming compensatory
damages based on the medical bills arising from his injuries.
For the reasons stated herein, the motion is denied.
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). Rulings in
limine avoid delay and allow the parties the opportunity
to prepare themselves and witnesses for the introduction or
exclusion of the applicable evidence. See Wilson v.
Williams, 182 F.3d 562, 566 (7th Cir. 1999); United
States v. Connelly, 874 F.2d 412, 416 (7th Cir. 1989).
District courts have broad discretion in ruling on
evidentiary issues before trial. See United States v.
Chambers, 642 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir. 2011); Cefalu
v. Vill. of Elk Grove, 211 F.3d 416, 426 (7th Cir.
2000). Moreover, rulings on motions in limine are
“subject to change when the case unfolds.”
Luce, 469 U.S. at 41; accord Farfaras v.
Citizens Bank & Trust of Chi., 433 F.3d 558, 565
(7th Cir. 2006).
have moved to bar any testimony, evidence, or claims
regarding compensation of Plaintiff's medical bills
arising from the events on July 11, 2013. In the alternative,
Defendants request that they be permitted to introduce
evidence that the City of Chicago has already paid, and will
continue to pay, Plaintiff's medical bills. In support,
they assert that Plaintiff, as an employee of the City of
Chicago, participates in the City of Chicago's
self-funded employee health insurance plan. Under that plan,
they argue, the City of Chicago has already paid around $524,
000 of Plaintiff's medical expenses. See
Defs.' Mot. Limine No. 12 at 2, ECF No. 172; see also
id., Ex. A (itemizing benefits paid through the City of
Chicago's employee health plan on behalf of Plaintiff).
Because the City of Chicago has also agreed to indemnify the
Officer Defendants for any compensatory damages awarded at
trial, Defendants contend that allowing Plaintiff to recover
damages based on his medical bills will permit a double
recovery, because it will effectively require the City of
Chicago to pay for Plaintiff's medical bills twice-once
under its self-funded employee health plan, and once more
under its indemnification arrangement with the Officer
response brief, as during the pretrial conference and at a
motion hearing held on April 12, 2017, Plaintiff counters
that Defendants have offered insufficient proof that the City
of Chicago, rather than Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
(BCBS), paid for Plaintiff's medical
expenses. In addition, Plaintiff argues that the
collateral source rule should bar evidence that the City of
Chicago has already paid for Plaintiff's medical expenses
by way of its employee health plan.
the collateral source rule, the amount of damages a plaintiff
may be awarded is not decreased by the amount of payments he
receives from an independent, collateral source in connection
with his injury. See, e.g., E.E.O.C. v.
O'Grady, 857 F.2d 383, 389-90 (7th Cir. 1988);
Stragapede v. City of Evanston, 125 F.Supp.3d 818,
826 (N.D. Ill. 2015). “The idea behind the [collateral
source rule], which originated in tort law, is that damages
measured by the injury are essential to deterrence.”
U.S. Can Co. v. N.L.R.B., 254 F.3d 626, 631 (7th
Cir. 2001). “The collateral source rule thus focuses on
what the tortfeasor and collateral source should pay, not on
what the plaintiff should receive.”
O'Grady, 857 F.2d at 390; accord
Stragapede, 125 F.Supp.3d at 826. “The collateral
source rule applies to § 1983 actions.” Perry
v. Larson, 794 F.2d 279, 286 (7th Cir.
particular importance to this case, the identity of the
person or entity who makes a collateral payment to the
plaintiff is not dispositive of whether the collateral source
rule applies. Instead, “‘[a]pplication of the
collateral source rule depends less upon the source of funds
than upon the character of the benefits received.'”
Molzof v. United States, 6 F.3d 461, 465 (7th Cir.
1993) (quoting Haughton v. Blackships, Inc., 462
F.2d 788, 790 (5th Cir. 1972)). “[I]n order to
determine whether the collateral source rule is applicable,
courts have looked to the nature of the payment and the
reason the payment is being made rather than simply looking
at whether the defendant is paying twice.” Id.
As a result, a source of funds “‘may be
determined to be collateral or independent, even though the
[tortfeasor] supplies such funds.'” Id.
(quoting Haughton, 462 F.2d at 790).
assuming as true Defendants' assertion that the City of
Chicago, rather than BCBS, paid for Plaintiff's medical
expenses, the nature of the payments and the reason why the
payments were made call for application of the collateral
source rule. First, the City of Chicago paid for
Plaintiff's medical expenses as part of its self-funded
health insurance plan, in which Plaintiff participates as a
municipal employee. The Seventh Circuit has suggested that
employment benefits, including benefits received through
participation in an employer's health plan, are
collateral benefits that should not be offset from a damages
award against the employer. See U.S. Can, 254 F.3d
at 634 (“[H]ealth insurance is treated as a collateral
source even when the [defendant-employer] provides insurance
as a fringe benefit.”); see also O'Grady,
857 F.2d at 391 (analogizing pension benefits to
employer-provided insurance benefits in holding that pension
benefits should not be deducted from back-pay award because
“pension benefits may be viewed as earned by
the claimants”). Here, payments made to Plaintiff
through his employer's health plan are best characterized
as an employment benefit, rather than as a form of
compensation for wrongful conduct committed by the Officer
Defendants or other City of Chicago employees. Thus, to allow
Defendants to deduct those payments from Plaintiff's
damages award would be to “permit the [City of Chicago]
to appropriate a portion of [Plaintiff's] own
economic-benefits package, ” a result that the
collateral source rule is designed to avoid. U.S.
Can, 254 F.3d at 634.
barring Plaintiff from claiming compensatory damages based on
his medical expenses would undermine one of the primary
objectives that damages awards are meant to serve: deterrence
of wrongdoing. See Id. at 631-35. Because Plaintiff
participates in the City of Chicago's employee health
plan, the City of Chicago would have paid for Plaintiff's
medical expenses regardless of whether Plaintiff was
injured wrongfully. Allowing Defendants to reduce
compensatory damages by the amount of these health insurance
payments would therefore give Defendants a windfall and
marginally reduce the deterrent effect of the damages award.
See McKenna v. City of Memphis, 544 F.Supp. 415, 420
(W.D. Tenn. 1982) (refusing to deduct medical expenses from
compensatory damages in § 1983 case where plaintiff and
defendant were employed by the same municipality, because the
municipality paid its employees' medical expenses
“without regard to negligence or liability of others,
including fellow employees”), aff'd, 785
F.2d 560 (6th Cir. 1986); see also Stragapede, 125
F.Supp.3d at 826-29 (refusing to deduct Social Security
disability insurance payments from plaintiffs' back-pay
award under collateral source rule, in part because the
insurance payments “would be made regardless of whether
the [defendant] acted wrongfully”).
more, if the City of Chicago had not agreed to indemnify the
Officer Defendants, there would be no question that Plaintiff
could seek compensatory damages against them based on his
medical expenses. See Perry, 794 F.2d at 286
(applying collateral source rule in § 1983 case);
Hare v. Zitek, No. 02 C 3973, 2006 WL 2088427, at *2
(N.D. Ill. July 24, 2006) (same); see also
O'Grady, 857 F.2d at 389-90. The fact that the City
of Chicago has agreed for its own reasons to indemnify the
Officer Defendants should not impact the amount of
compensatory damages that Plaintiff may seek against them in
order to deter any future wrongdoing. Put another way, to serve
the deterrence objective that underlies the collateral source
rule, Plaintiff should be permitted to seek the same measure
of compensatory damages against the Officer Defendants as he
would be able to seek in the absence of their indemnification
arrangement with the City of Chicago.
nevertheless arguing that Plaintiff should be barred from
seeking damages based on the cost of his medical care,
Defendants cite U.S. Can Co. v. N.L.R.B., 254 F.3d
626 (7th Cir. 2001), for the proposition that “the
collateral source rule would not apply to exclude evidence of
severance pay in a calculation of back pay damages because
the employer had already made the employee whole for the
missing wages.” Defs.' Mot. Limine No. 12 at 2-3.
Defendants' reading of U.S. Can, however,
overlooks several key points from the decision. In U.S.
Can, the court discussed a ...