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Thomas v. Ritz

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 13, 2018

BISHARA THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
STEVE RITZ, M.D., JOHN TROST, M.D., and JACQUELINE LASHBROOK, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. Reona J. Daly, United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court are the motions in limine filed by Plaintiff and Defendants (Docs. 145, 148, and 153). The Court has reviewed the motions, any responses thereto, and sets forth its rulings as follows:

         Motions in Limine filed by Defendants Trost and Ritz (Doc. 145)

         1. Defendants seek to bar evidence of any application for insurance, insurance policy, or statement, evidence, or testimony concerning whether Defendants may have insurance in connection with Plaintiff's claim, or any reference to any coverage dispute or indemnity agreement between any of the parties to this action. Plaintiff indicates he has no objection unless Defendants testify regarding their worth or ability to pay a judgment or defend this suit. The Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to bar such evidence; however, if Defendants open the door with related testimony, Plaintiff may raise the issue of insurance coverage at that time.

         2. Defendants seek to bar evidence of any statement, testimony or argument about Wexford Health Sources, Inc. being a for-profit corporation or a “big” corporation or company, or “evil” or a “bad” company. Plaintiff indicates he will not refer to Wexford as a “big, ” “evil, ” or “bad” company unless Defendants open the door. However, Plaintiff contends it is relevant to refer to Wexford as a for-profit corporation. The Court disagrees. Defendants' Motion is GRANTED. Plaintiff may explain that Wexford is a corporation that contracts with the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) to provide health care services to inmates and that Dr. Ritz and Dr. Trost were employees of Wexford, but it is irrelevant to reference its “for-profit” status.

         3. Defendants seek to bar evidence of any medical treatment provided to other inmates. Plaintiff has no objection. Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

         4. Defendants seek to bar evidence of any statements purportedly made by non-party medical providers that are not reflected in the medical records, arguing such statements are inadmissible hearsay. Plaintiff has no objection unless Defendants open the door to such testimony. The Motion is GRANTED unless Defendants open the door on the topic.

         5. Defendants seek to bar evidence of any documents, testimony, or other evidence concerning allegations, investigations, claims, discipline, lawsuits, lawsuit settlements, “other bad acts, ” or other matters asserted against Defendant Trost or Ritz, by any other person or entity, including, but not limited to, any other patient or state medical board. Plaintiff states that he has not identified any other lawsuit that would be admissible under FRE 404(b), but such evidence may be proper impeachment. Plaintiff further indicates that should Defendants open the door, this evidence may be relevant and admissible. The Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to bar such evidence finding it would be more prejudicial than probative, unless, however, Defendants open the door on the topic.

         6. Defendants seek to prohibit Plaintiff from offering medical or other technical literature to the jury because such literature is generally prohibited as hearsay. Plaintiff contends that he seeks to use statements from Guidelines for Management of Hiatal Hernia published by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, and a statement from the medical journal article entitled “Minimal Endoscopic Changes in Non-Erosive Refluex Disease, ” published by Ferreira, et al. This Motion is TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT. The Court will issue its ruling once it is clear how Plaintiff intends to introduce the literature.

         7. Defendants seek to bar introduction of evidence of negligence, a standard of care, or hypotheticals concerning other available treatments, asserting any such references are irrelevant to the issue of deliberate indifference and will only serve to confuse the jury. Plaintiff contends that evidence of the standard of care is relevant and he should be allowed to introduce evidence of the same, as well as possible alternative treatments. The Motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Plaintiff shall not be allowed to introduce evidence of negligence or reference a “standard of care” as presentation of such issues are likely to confuse the jury and are irrelevant to the claim of deliberate indifference. However, evidence of alternative treatments may be introduced.

         8. Defendants seek to bar testimony of witnesses who are not physicians, nurses, or mental health professionals, including Plaintiff, which requires specialized knowledge, education, or training. Plaintiff states that he intends to offer permissible lay opinion testimony regarding the pain he has suffered and continues to suffer, and that the treatment provided has been ineffective in reducing or stopping the pain. Defendants' Motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Plaintiff and his witnesses may testify as to their own personal experiences and observations, but Plaintiff and his witnesses shall be prohibited from testifying as to the causation of any specific medical diagnosis. See Gil v. Reed, 381 F.3d 649, 659 (7th Cir. 2004) (“no expert testimony is needed when the symptoms exhibited by the plaintiff are not beyond a layperson's grasp”).

         9. Defendants seek to bar evidence of grievances, complaints, affidavits, letters, and other documents demonstrating Plaintiff's intent to commence this action and/or descriptions of the medical care at issue. Defendants contend such documents are inadmissible hearsay. Plaintiff asserts that grievance-related exhibits are relevant and are not being offered to show the truth of the matters asserted. This Motion is TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT. The Court generally finds that grievances are inadmissible hearsay. However, such records may be admissible if they are relevant and are not being offered for the truth of the matter asserted.

         10. Defendants seek to exclude any documents, testimony, or other evidence concerning Trost's termination from Wexford. Plaintiff contends that such information is relevant because Trost was terminated, in part, because he failed to properly document patient referrals in collegial, which occurred in this case. Defendants' Motion is GRANTED. This evidence is more prejudicial than probative and Plaintiff will be allowed to introduce evidence of the issues with Dr. Trost's referrals without introducing evidence of Trost's termination.

         11. Defendants seek to bar Plaintiff from offering into evidence any IDOC or Menard directives, policies, or protocols and/or any Wexford policies or protocols regarding medical treatment. Plaintiff contends such evidence is relevant because it can establish that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference. This Motion is TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT. The Court shall only issue a ...


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