United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN
P. WATTERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Peter Margiotta's motion in limine
(Doc. 97) for an order preventing the USA from offering in
its case-in-chief, on rebuttal, or for impeachment purposes:
1) evidence and argument that OSHA standards found generally
at 29 CFR Part 1910 apply to any conduct at issue in the
case; and 2) evidence and argument that Margiotta had
constructive knowledge of site operations.
argues both types of evidence are inadmissible because they
are irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial. For the following
reasons, the Court denies Margiotta's motion.
I. OSHA citations and other references to specific violations
of OSHA standards cannot be introduced to prove criminal
conduct; however, the factual aspects underlying the
violations are admissible.
charged Margiotta with: 1) conspiracy to violate the Clean
Air Act (CAA) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; 2)
violation of the general duty clause of the CAA, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 7413(c)(1), 74l2(r)(1); and 3) the knowing
release into the ambient air of a hazardous air pollutant
listed under § 7412, thereby placing another person in
imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, in
violation of § 7413(c)(5). (Doc. 5 at 7-11.)
Margiotta's company, Custom Carbon Processing, Inc.
(Custom Carbon), received several citations from the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) relating
to conditions at Custom Carbon's facility and specific
violations of OSHA regulations and standards. (Doc. 98-1 at
is impermissible to use the violation of a civil statute to
ipso facto supply a crucial element of a criminal
offense." United States v. Eriksen, 639 F.3d
1138, 1150 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations removed). The
USA cannot predicate its theory of an offense on the
defendant's violation of a civil rule. United States
v. White Eagle, 721 F.3d 1108, 1114 (9th Cir. 2013).
However, evidence of civil violations may provide
"background information bearing on motive and
intent" or may be admitted for other legitimate purposes
so long as the USA does not use the violation as "a key
part" of its case in proving an offense. United
States v. Wolf, 820 F.2d 1499, 1505 (9th Cir. 1987);
accord United States v. Stefan, 784 F.2d 1093, 1098
(11th Cir. 1986).
incorrectly presumes evidence of specific violations of OSHA
rules and regulations is irrelevant because the CAA's
general duty clause, § 74l2(r)(1), incorporates only the
general duty of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. § 654(a)(1). As
the Court earlier held (Doc. 101 at 16-17), the CAA's
general duty clause is a distinct, independently enforceable
general duty from the OSH Act's general duty clause, even
though the CAA's general duty clause applies "in the
same manner and to the same extent" as the OSH
Act's. 42 U.S.C. § 74l2(r)(1).
states the factual background and information OSHA provided
is legitimately relevant and corroborative evidence regarding
Margiotta's intent. The Court agrees this information may
bear on Margiotta's motive and intent, especially
considering OSHA's involvement in the investigation after
the December 29, 2012 explosion. Accordingly, the factual
background and information is admissible so long as the OSHA
citations and other references to specific violations of OSHA
standards do not become "a key part" of proving a
crucial element of an offense at trial. See Wolf,
820 F.2d at 1505.
While the USA must prove actual awareness for Count
3's knowledge element, there is no similar requirement
for Count 2's knowledge element.
argues the USA must prove actual awareness for the
knowledge elements of both §§ 7413(c)(1) and
(c)(5), relating to Counts 2 and 3 respectively. Section
7413(c)(5)(B) states that in determining whether the
defendant knew he placed another individual in imminent
danger of death or serious bodily injury by releasing a
hazardous air pollutant into the ambient air, "the
defendant is responsible only for actual awareness or actual
belief possessed." This knowledge definition plainly
applies to Count 3 under § 7413(c)(5). However, it is
not a separate, general definition that applies to the
remaining offenses under the statute. Instead, based on the
subsection's own limiting language, the definition
applies only to § 7413(c)(5), and it does not apply to
Count 2 under § 7413(c)(1). As the statute provides no
other definition for knowingly under §
7413(c)(1), the more generally-accepted definition of
knowingly is appropriate. Evidence relevant to prove
the knowingly element under § 7413(c)(1), which
may or may not include evidence of Margiotta's
constructive knowledge, is therefore admissible.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Margiotta's Motion in Limine Re: OSHA Standards
and Constructive Knowledge (Doc. 97) is
Court grants Margiotta leave to renew his objection at trial
to admitting evidence of OSHA citations and other references
to specific violations of OSHA. The ...