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Walden v. Maryland Casualty Co.

United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division

December 10, 2018

BREANNE WALDEN, DANIELLE DESCHENES AZURE, JESSICA BLACKWEASEL, SABRINA REMUS COYNE, BRITTANY DEAN, JENNIFER DEMENT, DANIELLE DUNCAN, JACKIE GREAVU, BETH HAYES, JANA HEILIG, KEALLIE LIETZ, JACKIE MULLENNAX, SARA ONSAGER, ANNA RADFORD, BARBARA SLOAN, MOLLY STILSON, and KYRA TILSON, Individually and as Assignees of DB&D, LLC d/b/a DAHL'S COLLEGE OF BEAUTY, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARYLAND CASUALTY COMPANY, and DOES 1-5, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER

          DANA L. CHRISTENSEN, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Before the Court is Defendant Maryland Casualty Company ("Maryland") 's Motions in Limine.[1] (Doc. 164.) Maryland seeks to exclude seven categories of evidence from trial:

• Motion in Limine 1: Undisclosed expert opinions, including but not limited to opinions concerning causation by treating providers for whom required expert disclosures have not been provided;
• Motion in Limine 2: Testimony by Plaintiffs and lay witnesses as to medical causation;
• Motion in Limine 3: "Golden rule" and "reptile theory" arguments;
• Motion in Limine 4: Reference to the parties' financial condition;
• Motion in Limine 5: Evidence of emotional distress caused by third parties;
• Motion in Limine 6: Evidence of a purported or real intimate relationship between Morgan Heikkila and Philip Belangie; and
• Motion in Limine 7: Evidence of symptoms or emotional reactions that do not constitute bodily injury or physical manifestations thereof.

         The Court grants the motions in part and denies the motions in part.

         Discussion

         A motion in limine is used to preclude prejudicial or objectionable evidence before it is presented to the jury. The decision on a motion in limine is consigned to the district court's discretion-including the decision of whether to rule before trial at all. United States v. Bensimon, 172 F.3d 1121, 1127 (9th Cir. 1999). A motion in limine "should not be used to resolve factual disputes or weigh evidence." BNSF Ry. v. Quad City Testing Laboratory, Inc., 2010 WL 4337827, at *1 (D. Mont. Oct. 26, 2010). Evidence shall be excluded in limine only when it is shown that the evidence is "inadmissible on all potential grounds." See, e.g. Ind. Ins. Co. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 326 F.Supp.2d 844, 846 (N. D. Ohio -3 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." BNSF, 2010 WL 4337827 at * 1. "This is because 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." Id. Rulings on motions in limine are provisional and the trial judge may always change his mind during the course of trial. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 (1984).

         I. Motion in Limine 1: Undisclosed expert opinions

          Maryland asks the Court to exclude undisclosed expert opinions, particularly (but not exclusively) causation opinions from Plaintiffs' treating doctors. Maryland refers to the Court's initial scheduling order (Doc. 9), which explains the difference in disclosure requirements for expert and treating physicians. As discussed in that order, "[i]f [a] treating physician's testimony goes beyond care, treatment and prognosis then there must be full compliance with the discovery requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2)(B)." (Doc. 9 at 9-10.) Plaintiffs counter that: (1) the Court's order denying Plaintiffs' earlier motions ...


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