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Rieco v. Moran

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 28, 2015

DWAYNE L. RIECO, Plaintiff,
v.
C/O MORAN, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM ORDER ON DEFENDANT’S MOTIONS IN LIMINE (DOC. NOS. 100, 104, 106, 108, 110)

ARTHUR J. SCHWAB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Before the Court are five Motions in Limine filed by Defendant with respect to this case. Trial begins in this matter on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Plaintiff, who is pro se, filed no Motions in Limine on his own behalf, and has not filed Responses to the Defendant’s Motions in Limine. By asking Plaintiff about each of his witnesses on his witness and exhibit list (doc. no. 83), the Court heard oral argument on Defendant’s Motions in Limine at the preliminary pretrial conference held on May 28, 2015.

A. Case History

The Court begins by noting that Plaintiff’s Complaint claimed violations of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, specifically his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Defendant filed a [Partial] Motion to Dismiss (see doc. no. 32) when this matter was pending before United States Magistrate Judge Cynthia Eddy, and she recommended that the Motion be granted. Doc. no. 64. After conducting the requisite de novo review of Plaintiff’s claims set forth in his Complaint as well as his objections to Magistrate Judge Eddy’s Report and Recommendation, this Court, with a few supplementations, adopted her Report and Recommendation and entered an Order granting the [Partial] Motion to Dismiss. Doc. no. 72.

In doing so, only one claim remains to be tried – Plaintiff’s claim that on February 15, 2014, he was assaulted by Defendant Moran with a food aperture. This Court has repeatedly identified that issue. See doc. nos. 64, 72, 85, and 89.

Accordingly, Defendant’s Motions in Limine will be considered with respect to the sole issue that is to be tried in this case – Plaintiff’s Section 1983 allegation against the sole remaining Defendant, Officer Moran, regarding an alleged use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s proscription against cruel and unusual punishments. As noted immediately above, Plaintiff’s claim arises out of an alleged incident which took place on February 15, 2014, when Plaintiff was purportedly assaulted by Defendant with a food aperture.

Plaintiff has the burden of proving that this assault occurred. If he can prove the assault occurred, he must next prove the assault rises to the level of cruel and unusual punishment proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.

B. Defendant’s Motions in Limine

1.Defendant’s Motion in Limine to Preclude Plaintiff from Introducing Grievance # 499722, Grievance # 501291, and Misconducts From 2013-2015 (doc. no. 100)

Grievance # 499722 was prepared by Plaintiff and provides his version of the event related to the food aperture. However, upon review of this document, it is clear that the document outlines Plaintiff’s food tampering and other claims in addition to the incident involving the food aperture. As noted above, all of these other claims have been dismissed; therefore, large portions of this document are not relevant. Moreover, Plaintiff will be present in Court at the time of trial and he may testify about what happened on February 15, 2015 with respect to his interaction with Defendant Moran and the food aperture.

In addition, the Response to Grievance # 499722 was prepared by an individual (Lt. Hintenmeyer) who did not witness the events which took place on February 15, 2014, but who presumably conducted an investigation into the alleged assault. Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, Plaintiff cannot offer the Response to Grievance # 499722 for the truth of the matter asserted therein, as it is hearsay. See F.R.E. 801, 802, 803, 805 and 807. Similarly, Plaintiff cannot obtain testimony from Lt. Hintenmeyer concerning the incident, as Lt. Hintenmeyer did not observe the incident. Id. However, Plaintiff may call Lt. Hintenmeyer to verify that Lt. Hintenmeyer did investigate the alleged assault, and to ask him what he concluded occurred, based on his investigation into the alleged assault, but Plaintiff may not challenge the adequacy of the investigation, nor whether it complied with any particular policy or procedure.

The appeal documents related to this Grievance are not relevant to the food aperture issue being adjudicated before a jury. See F.R.E. 401.

Grievance # 501291 pertains to Plaintiff’s claims of food tampering. This claim was dismissed before trial. See doc. nos. 64 and 72. Thus, any evidence related to this claim is not relevant to the discreet ...


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