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Bruce v. Guernsey

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

May 14, 2018

FALYN BRUCE, Plaintiff,
v.
DEREK GUERNSEY, Defendant.

          OPINION

          TOM SCHANZLE-HASKINS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the parties' Motions in Limine. Defendant Derek Guernsey filed his First Motion in Limine (d/e 104) (Motion 104), Second Motion in Limine (d/e 105) (Motion 105), Third Motion in Limine (d/e 106) (Motion 106), Fourth Motion in Limine (d/e 107) (Motion 107), Fifth Motion in Limine (d/e 108) (Motion 108), and Sixth Motion in Limine (d/e 109) (Motion 109). Plaintiff Falyn Bruce filed her First Motion in Limine (d/e 116) (Motion 116) and Second Motion in Limine (d/e 117) (Motion 117). The parties have consented to proceed before this Court. Notice, Consent, and Reference of a Civil Action to a Magistrate Judge and Reference Order entered November 30, 2017 (d/e 112).

         Plaintiff Bruce has no objection to Guernsey's Motions 104, 105, 106, 107, and 109. These Motions are allowed. Bruce opposes Motion 108, and Guernsey opposes Motion 116 and 117. For the reasons stated below Motion 108 is allowed in part, and Motions 116 and 117 are denied.

         I. Motion 108, Defendant's Fifth Motion in Limine

         Guernsey asks the Court in Motion 108 to bar Bruce's attorney from indicating to the jury that (1) Guernsey might present certain evidence at trial, or (2) that Guernsey has the burden of proof.[1] Guernsey argues that he has no burden to present any evidence at trial until Bruce makes out a prima facie case. Therefore, Bruce should not be allowed to give the jury the impression that Guernsey has the burden to present any evidence in his opening statement or otherwise until he makes out a prima facie case and withstands a motion for directed verdict.

         Bruce's attorney agrees that he may not indicate to the jury that Guernsey has a burden of proof on any issue before Bruce successfully makes out a prima facie case. This portion of Motion 108 is allowed. Bruce's attorney, however, may present to the jury a roadmap of the evidence that he reasonably believes the jury is likely to hear, including evidence that Guernsey is likely to present. See Jordan v. Binns, 712 F.3d 1123, 1134 (7th Cir. 2013).[2] Moreover, the Court will instruct the jury that opening statements and closing arguments are not evidence. The Court will also instruct the jury on the burden of proof. The Court will not bar in limine Bruce's attorney from mentioning evidence that Guernsey may present in the trial. Guernsey's counsel may object at trial to any comment by Bruce's counsel that she believes is improper, and the Court will address such matters then. Motion 108 is ALLOWED in part and DENIED in part as stated above.

         II. Motion 116, Plaintiff's First Motion in Limine

         Bruce asks the Court to bar Guernsey from presenting evidence pertaining to the “collective knowledge doctrine”[3] until after Guernsey has testified and established what information he actually knew at the time of Bruce's alleged seizure. The Court denies the Motion.

         The question of whether Guernsey seized Bruce is a contested issue of fact. At summary judgment, Bruce and her father testified that Guernsey seized her without cause and compelled her go with him to St. John's Hospital (St. John's) in Springfield, Illinois as a suicide risk even though Guernsey had no basis to believe Bruce was at such risk. Guernsey testified that Bruce's father stated that he would take Bruce to St. John's, but Bruce argued with her father and refused to go with her father. Guernsey testified that Bruce's father eventually told Guernsey to take her and left the scene. According to Guernsey, Bruce voluntarily went with him to St. John's. See Report and Recommendation entered November 27, 2017 (d/e 110) (R&R), at 17-20.

         The testimony from Bruce's classmates, school employees, and other officers may be relevant to the jury's evaluation of the parties' conflicting version of events. The deposition testimony of the classmates and school employees presented at summary judgment contradicted some of the deposition testimony by Bruce, Bruce's father, and some officers. See R&R, at 5-16. The conflicting testimony may aid the jury in deciding which version of the events is more likely true than not.

         In addition, Guernsey may present evidence of information that other officers learned about Bruce. If Guernsey seized Bruce, he may try to prove that he properly based his actions on information learned by other officers under the collective knowledge doctrine. The collective knowledge doctrine states that the collective knowledge of other officers is imputed to the officer whose actions are challenged. The doctrine applies if (1) the officer acted in objective reliance on the information received from other officers; (2) the other officers had information supporting the level of suspicion required under the circumstances; and (3) the officer's actions were no more intrusive than would have been permissible for the other officers who gleaned the information. See United States v. Williams, 627 F.3d 247, 252 (7th Cir. 2010). Guernsey only had to know that one of his fellow officers told him to take Bruce to St. John's. He did not need to know the basis of that instruction as long as the other officer or officers had an adequate basis. The other officers with whom Guernsey worked on this matter needed sufficient information to justify the seizure, if any seizure occurred.

         Guernsey may present the evidence of the other officers' knowledge, his relationship, and his communications with the other officers to prove the elements of the collective knowledge doctrine. Based on the summary judgment submissions, the other officers may testify that they learned that Bruce was a suicide risk from Bruce's father, her classmates, and school employees. See R&R, at 8-16. Guernsey, therefore, may present this evidence to establish his claim that he was entitled to base his actions on the collective knowledge doctrine.

         The Court will not require Guernsey to present evidence on the collective knowledge doctrine in a particular order. At summary judgment, Guernsey testified that the police dispatcher and/or other officers indicated that Bruce was a suicide risk and to take Bruce to St. John's. See R&R, at 8-9, 19. That is sufficient for Guernsey to establish the required knowledge under the collective knowledge doctrine. Bruce will not be prejudiced if Guernsey presents evidence regarding the other elements of the collective knowledge doctrine before he testifies on these points. Motion 116 is DENIED.

         III. Motion 117, Plaintiff's ...


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