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Crawford v. County of Dauphin

February 2, 2006

STEVEN D. CRAWFORD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF DAUPHIN, CITY OF HARRISBURG, JANICE ROADCAP, JOHN C. BALSHY AND WALTON DEWEY SIMPSON, JR., ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF WALTON D. SIMPSON, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McClure, Jr. United States District Judge

Filed 02/02/2006

ORDER

BACKGROUND

By agreement of counsel, this order replaces that of January 27, 2006 (Rec. Doc. No. 250) to make a correction.

On March 28, 2003, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County at docket number 2003-CV-1452. Shortly thereafter the matter was removed to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. On October 6, 2005, the court granted defendant City of Harrisburg's motion for summary judgment and denied the other defendants' motions for summary judgment. Upon a motion for reconsideration, on January 19, 2006, the court granted defendant County of Dauphin's motion for summary judgment. The case is currently scheduled for the April 2006 trial list. Now before the court are Defendants' Joint Motions in Limine to Bar the Following: Reference to Insurance; Offers of Settlement; Prior Cases Involving Allegedly Wrongful Convictions; Testimony from Undisclosed Witnesses; Presenting Evidence Not Previously Disclosed; Past Alleged Wrongful Conduct Involving Any of the Defendants; Prior or Pending Civil Litigation Involving Any of the Defendants; and Testimony By Plaintiff as to His Wage Loss. (Rec. Doc. No. 202.) We address each aspect of the motion as follows.

DISCUSSION

I. Evidence that Defendants are Insured Through a Policy of Liability Insurance & Reference to Offers of Settlement in this Action

Defendants anticipate that plaintiff may attempt to bring the issue of the insurance before the jury to "suggest that someone other than the defendant or taxpayer would be paying the adverse judgment." (Br. Supp., Rec. Doc. No. 203, at 2.) They also anticipate that plaintiff may make reference to offers of settlement.

Plaintiff indicates they will not make reference to any insurance and that there were no offers of settlement. Nevertheless, we will grant defendants' first two requests in their motion in limine precluding references to insurance and offers of settlement. See Fed. R. Evid. 408, 411.

II. Reference to Conduct by Any Other Police Officer or Police Department Where Convictions Were Overturned Based Upon Newly Discovered Evidence

Defendants make a very general request that plaintiff be barred from referring to conduct by any other police officer or department where convictions were overturned based upon newly discovered evidence. Defendants assert that the information is irrelevant, immaterial, lacks probative value, and is substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice under Fed. R. Evid. 403.

We agree with defendants that the cases listed in the motion are irrelevant to this case, and may not be referred to in any way. Plaintiff must proffer to the court at sidebar any other case they plan to reference before the jury that has not already been authorized to be presented by an order of this court. By holding a side bar at trial the court will be able to entertain arguments on any additional specific cases that might be germane to this action.

III. Request to Bar Previously Unidentified Witness Testimony & Reference to or Use of Any Photographs or Exhibits that were Not Previously Produced or Identified in Discovery or that are Irrelevant to the Issues in this Case or by Admissible Law

Defendants' fourth and fifth requests in their motion in limine, while sound, are too premature and vague for this court to rule on. There may be good cause for the presentation at trial of witness testimony, photographs or exhibits not previously disclosed during discovery. Of course, when the court is ...


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