United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE
TIMOTHY J. CAVAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Tina McColl (“McColl”) brings this action against
Defendants American Naturopathic Counsel and Allied
Professional Insurance Company (“Allied”) for
alleged bad faith insurance practices under Montana's
Unfair Trade Practices Act (the “UTPA”). (Doc.
States District Judge Sam E. Haddon has referred the case to
the undersigned under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (Doc.
76, 82.) Presently before the Court are McColl's Motions
in Limine. (Doc. 120.) Having considered the parties'
submissions, the Court finds McColl's motions should be
GRANTED in part and DENIED
in limine are procedural devices that may be used to exclude
anticipated inadmissible or prejudicial evidence before it is
actually offered at trial. Luce v. United States,
469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984). Motions in limine, however, do
“not lie to exclude broad categories of
evidence.” Acad. of Motion Picture Arts & Scis.
v. Godaddy.com, Inc., 2015 WL 12697750, *2 (C.D. Cal.
Apr. 10, 2015). Rather, motions in limine must specifically
“identify the evidence at issue and state with
specificity why such evidence is inadmissible.”
Colton Crane Co., LLC v. Terex Cranes Wilmington,
Inc., 2010 WL 2035800, *1 (C.D. Cal. May 19, 2010).
See also Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.,
519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975) (“Orders in limine
which exclude broad categories of evidence should rarely be
employed. A better practice is to deal with questions of
admissibility of evidence as they arise.”).
party cannot use a motion in limine to sterilize the other
party's presentation of the case.” Johnson v.
Gen. Mills Inc., 2012 WL 13015023, *1 (C.D. Cal. May 7,
2012). Motions in limine also should not be used to resolve
factual disputes or weigh evidence. C & E Services,
Inc., v. Ashland Inc., 539 F.Supp.2d 316, 323 (D. D.C.
2008). To exclude evidence on a motion in limine, the
evidence must be “clearly inadmissible on all potential
grounds.” Ind. Ins. Co. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 326
F.Supp.2d 844, 846 (N.D. Ohio 2004). “Unless evidence
meets this high standard, evidentiary rulings should be
deferred until trial so that questions of foundation,
relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper
context.” Hawthorne Partners v. AT & T Tech,
Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993). Although
rulings on motions in limine may save “time, costs,
effort and preparation, a court is almost always better
situated during the actual trial to assess the value and
utility of evidence.” Wilkins v. K-Mart Corp.,
487 F.Supp.2d 1216, 1219 (D. Kan. 2007).
moves to exclude any evidence, testimony or argument
regarding: (1) comparative bad faith/attacks on McColl or her
counsel; (2) after-acquired evidence; (3) the existence of
other insurance; (4) the date or amount for which the case
should have settled/argument that McColl was unhappy with the
verdict; (5) the State District Court's denial of summary
judgment; (6) proceedings before the Alternative Healthcare
Board; and (7) the deposition of Alan F. Blakley. (Doc. 121.)
Allied opposes the motion. (Doc. 125.)
Comparative Bad Faith/Attacks on Plaintiff or her
argues the Court should broadly exclude any evidence,
testimony or argument that would “disparage or vilify
her or her counsel or blame them for the scope of the
investigation or adjustment of the claim.” (Doc. 121 at
3.) McColl also asserts “comparative bad faith”
is not a defense, and thus contends any evidence of
“claimed bad faith or misconduct by Mrs. McColl or her
counsel” should be excluded. (Id. at 4.)
Allied responds that it does not intend to disparage counsel
or McColl, and has not asserted a defense of
“comparative bad faith.” Nevertheless, Allied
asserts that evidence as to what occurred between the parties
leading up to the trial in the underlying case is relevant to
both McColl's claims and Allied's defenses.
motion falls short of the specificity required for a motion
in limine. McColl does not specifically identify what
evidence she seeks to exclude. The Court finds this type of
broad request would require the Court to “‘rule
in a vacuum' on the admissibility of evidence.”
Acad. of Motion Picture Arts & Scis., 2015 WL
12697750 at *2. The Court declines to do so because granting
“such amorphous motions would ‘leav[e] the court
and the parties to guess what [evidence] during trial may be
included within the scope of the ruling.'”
categorically excluding all evidence of McColl's conduct
after the claim would not be appropriate. Apparently, McColl
seeks to exclude all evidence of her conduct and that of her
attorney. But the jury cannot evaluate the insurer's
conduct in isolation. Evidence of the course of dealing
between the parties is relevant to claims and defenses in
this case. At trial, Judge Haddon can rule on any evidentiary
issues concerning McColl's conduct as they arise, and in
light of the factual context in which they are presented.
it is a misuse of motions in limine to base them “on
matters of day-to-day logistics and common professional
courtesy.” Johnson, 2012 WL 13015023 at *1. As
such, the Court finds it is unnecessary to grant a motion in
limine preventing Allied from “attacking” McColl
or her counsel.