IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
July 29, 2008
INGOMAR LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, PLAINTIFF
JEFFREY J. CURRENT; PAULA H. CURRENT; SELECT PORTFOLIO SERVICING, INC., F/K/A FAIRBANKS CAPITAL CORP.; RANDAL L. SPAHR; AND CRYSTAL C. JAMES, DEFENDANTS
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner
AND NOW, this 29th day of July, upon consideration of plaintiff's motion in limine (Doc. 42), which seeks to exclude evidence (1) of the alleged bona-fide-purchaser status of defendants Randal L. Spahr and Crystal C. James (hereinafter "Spahr and James") and (2) of the judgment entered against defendants Jeffrey J. and Paula H. Current (hereinafter "the Currents") on April 11, 2008, (see Docs. 38, 39), and it appearing that Spahr and James's disputed status as bona fide purchasers*fn1 directly relates to the claim of plaintiff Ingomar Limited Partnership ("Ingomar"), which asserts that it holds a mortgage lien against their property, because Spahr and James's status as bona fide purchasers, if proven, would vitiate Ingomar's alleged lien, see Poffenberger v. Goldstein, 776 A.2d 1037, 1042 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2001) (reiterating that a buyer qualifies as a bona fide purchaser if the buyer "pay[s] valuable consideration, ha[s] no notice of the outstanding rights of others, and act[s] in good faith"); see Leedom v. Spano, 647 A.2d 221, 228 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1994) ("Since [the buyers] paid for their property without knowledge of . . . defects in the title they assert they are entitled to unencumbered title as bona fide purchasers for value."), and the court concluding that evidence regarding Spahr and James's status is therefore relevant to determining whether Ingomar possesses an interest in their property, see FED. R. EVID. 401 (stating that evidence is relevant if it has "any tendency" to show that a material fact is "more or less probable than it would be without the evidence"), and that the judgment against the Currents is relevant insofar as it provides the factual background against which Ingomar's claim against Spahr and James arises, and the court further concluding that admitting evidence of the judgment would not result in unfair prejudice to Ingomar, confuse the issues, or create undue delay, see FED. R. EVID. 403, because the court, as finder of fact during a bench trial, is apprised of the factual background of the case and of the legal significance of the facts as they relate to the parties, see Hussey v. Chase Manhattan Bank, No. Civ. A. 02-7099, 2005 WL 2203146, at *7 (E.D. Pa. July 29, 2005) (stating that excluding evidence to alleviate prejudice or confusion has little significant during bench trials because concerns typical of Rule 403 challenges regarding jurors' perceptions "simply do not exist in the context of a bench trial" (quotation and citation omitted)), it is hereby ORDERED that plaintiff's motion is limine (Doc. 42) is DENIED.
CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER United States District Judge