United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
DAVID O. COOPER, Plaintiff,
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, OHIO, Defendant.
AND ENTRY SUSTAINING IN PART AND RESERVING RULING IN PART ON
DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE RELATING
TO OTHER LAWSUITS, DISMISSED CLAIMS, ALLEGED INCIDENTS NOT
THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THIS CASE, EXPERT TESTIMONY OF
NON-EXPERT WITNESSES, HEARSAY EVIDENCE, AND IRRELEVANT FACTS
(DOC. #134); SUSTAINING PLAINTIFF'S UNOPPOSED MOTION IN
LIMINE TO EXCLUDE DEFENDANT'S EXHIBITS DX14 AND 15 (DOC.
#140); SUSTAINING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE
TESTIMONY OF JOE TUSS (DOC. #141); RESERVING RULING ON
DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE RELATING
TO SUBSEQUENT CHANGES IN POLICY (DOC. #147)
H. RICE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
is set to begin on January 16, 2018, on Plaintiff's one
remaining claim, a 42 U.S.C. 5 1983 claim against Defendant
Montgomery County, based on Plaintiff's allegation that
his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were violated
when he was deprived of the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities while he was a pretrial detainee at
the Montgomery County Jail, and that a policy or custom of
the County was the driving force behind the alleged
matter is currently before the Court on four motions in
limine: (1) Defendant Montgomery County's Motion in
Limine to Exclude Evidence Relating to Other Lawsuits,
Dismissed Claims, Alleged Incidents Not the Subject Matter of
this Case, Expert Testimony of Non-Expert Witnesses, Hearsay
Evidence, and Irrelevant Facts (Doc. #134); (2)
Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Exclude Defendant's
Exhibits DX 14 and 15 (Doc. #140); (3) Plaintiff's Motion
in Limine to Exclude Testimony of Joe Tuss (Doc. #141); and
(4) Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence
Relating to Subsequent Changes in Policy (Doc. #147).
Motions in Limine
neither the Federal Rules of Evidence nor the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure explicitly authorizes the Court to rule on
an evidentiary motion in limine, the Supreme Court has noted
that the practice of ruling on such motions "has
developed pursuant to the district court's inherent
authority to manage the course of trials." Luce v.
United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1984). The purpose
of a motion in limine is to allow the Court to rule on issues
pertaining to evidence in advance of trial in order to both
avoid delay and ensure an evenhanded and expeditious trial.
See Indiana Ins. Co. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 326
F.Supp.2d 844, 846 (N.D. Ohio 2004) (citing Jonasson v.
Lutheran Child & Family Servs., 11 5 F.3d 436, 440
(7th Cir. 1997)). Pretrial orders also often save the parties
time and cost in preparing for trial and presenting their
are generally reluctant to grant broad exclusions of evidence
in limine, however, because "a court is almost always
better situated during the actual trial to assess the value
and utility of evidence, " Koch v. Koch Indus.,
Inc., 2 F.Supp.2d 1385, 1388 (D. Kan. 1998); accord
Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 519 F.2d
708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975). A court should not make a ruling in
limine unless the moving party meets its burden of showing
that the evidence in question is clearly inadmissible.
Indiana Ins. Co., 326 F.Supp.2d at 846;
Koch, 2 F.Supp.2d at 1388. If this high standard is
not met, evidentiary rulings should be deferred so that the
issues may be resolved in the context of the trial.
Indiana Ins. Co., 326 F.Supp.2d at 846.
Defendant's Motions in Limine
Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence Relating
to Other Lawsuits, Dismissed Claims, Alleged Incidents Not
the Subject Matter of this Case, Expert Testimony of
Non-Expert Witnesses, Hearsay Evidence, and Irrelevant Facts
Evidence Related to Other Lawsuits
first seeks to exclude evidence of recent unrelated lawsuits
involving incidents at the Montgomery County Jail, arguing
that such evidence is irrelevant, and the probative value of
any such evidence would be substantially outweighed by the
danger of unfair prejudice, rendering it inadmissible under
Federal Rule of Evidence 403.
notes that Federal Rule of Evidence 401 provides that
evidence is "relevant" if "(a) it has any
tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would
be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence
in determining the action." He argues that evidence of
other lawsuits involving complaints about conditions of
confinement at the Montgomery County Jail makes it more
likely that what happened to him was not an isolated
order to succeed on his § 1 983 claim against the
County, Plaintiff must prove that a custom or policy of the
County was the moving force behind the alleged constitutional
violation. Certainly, evidence of other incidents or lawsuits
involving complaints about conditions of confinement for
occupants of the jail who were on suicide watch is
relevant to proving a custom or policy, and the probative
value of such evidence would not be substantially outweighed
by the danger of unfair prejudice or confusion of the issues.
The same cannot necessarily be said about evidence of other
incidents or lawsuits falling outside of this narrow
because it is not clear what evidence, if any,
Plaintiff intends to introduce concerning other incidents at
the Montgomery County Jail, and for what purpose, the Court
is not in a position to make a definitive ruling. It will
RESERVE RULING and resolve this portion of Defendant's
motion if and when the need arises in the context of the
trial. Plaintiff's counsel is instructed not to refer to
said incidents in his voir dire and opening statements, and
to approach the bench prior to introducing evidence of other
incidents or lawsuits involving conditions of confinement at
the Montgomery County Jail, in order that the Court might
rule on same within the context of the trial as it then
Evidence Related to Dismissed Claims
also asks the Court to exclude evidence related to any of
Plaintiff's claims that this Court has previously
dismissed, including the following: (1) all claims against
Sgt. Curtis Laravie, Officer Stacy Frisk, Officer Thomas
Connor, Sgt. Jay Vitali and Officer Steven Leopold; (2) all
claims of deliberate indifference to serious psychiatric
needs; (3) all claims concerning the allegedly
nutritionally-inadequate meals that Plaintiff was given at
the Jail; and (4) claims brought against Major Wilson and
Captain Crosby in their individual capacities. Defendant
argues that, not only is such evidence irrelevant to the one
remaining claim, but it also would be unfairly prejudicial
and confusing to the jury.
contrast, Plaintiff argues that all of the events
that he experienced during his eight-month detention
contribute to his "conditions of confinement" claim
and must be considered by the jury in rendering a verdict.
The Court disagrees.
scope of Plaintiff's one remaining
conditions-of-confinement claim is very narrow, the only
question being whether he was deprived of the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities in terms of the
shelter he was provided at the Montgomery County Jail.
Although he may present evidence of the conditions in his
cell, i.e., the deprivation of all bedding, the cold
air conditioning, the bright lights and the constant noise,
evidence of other indignities and deprivations that he might
have suffered as a pretrial detainee is no longer at issue.
Not only is such evidence irrelevant to the one remaining
claim, but its probative value would be substantially
outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice and confusion of
the issues. See Fed. R. Evid. 401, 402, 403.
Accordingly, the Court SUSTAINS this portion of
Defendant's motion in limine.
Expert Testimony of Non-Expert Witnesses
next asks the Court to preclude lay witnesses from offering
expert opinions related to medical or psychiatric symptoms or
diagnoses. More specifically, Defendant asks the Court to
preclude Kathy Cooper, Plaintiff's mother, from