United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
NICOLE WELKER and JUSTIN BRINKLEY, individually, and CHARLES B. HADAD, ESQUIRE, as Guardian Ad Litem on behalf of JDWBII, a minor, Plaintiffs,
THOMAS A. CARNEVALE, M.D. and CLEARFIELD HOSPITAL, Defendants.
GIBSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion in
Limine to Preclude Justin Brinkley's Prior Legal
History (ECF No. 71), Motion in Limine to Preclude
Litigation Analytics from Presenting JDWBII's Future Life
Care Costs Discounted to Present Value (ECF No. 73), and
Motion in Limine to Preclude Existence/Availability
of Health Insurance and Opinions/Calculations Based on the
Affordable Care Act (ECF No. 75). For the reasons that
follow, Plaintiffs' Motion regarding Justin
Brinkley's legal history is GRANTED, Plaintiffs'
motion regarding discounting future life care costs to
present value is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' motion
regarding the Affordable Care Act is GRANTED.
a diversity action alleging medical malpractice and
negligence. Nicole Welker presented to Clearfield Hospital on
July 19, 2012, in active labor. She was treated by Dr. Thomas
Carnevale, the attending obstetrician. Plaintiffs allege that
Defendants Dr. Camevale and Clearfield Hospital failed to
provide appropriate medical care, including that they
improperly administered the drug Pitocin to Welker while she
was in labor, resulting in serious and permanent neurological
disabilities to her son, JDWBII. Defendants deny that their
actions were negligent or constituted malpractice. Trial is
scheduled to begin on January 17, 2017. Plaintiffs have filed
three motions in Limine, which the Court will
discuss in turn.
a. Justin Brinkley's Prior Legal History
first request the Court exclude any reference to Plaintiff
Justin Brinkley's prior legal history relating to a
"legal matter" around the time of his son's
birth. (ECF Nos. 71 & 77.) On July 16, 2012, Dr.
Camevale recommended to Nicole Welker that they induce labor
on July 18, 2012. (ECF No. 77 at 2.) Welker asked to
delay the inducement of labor until the onset of natural
labor or she reached 41-42 weeks gestation, to which Dr.
Camevale agreed. (Id.) Welker declined inducement on
July 18, 2012 because Brinkley, her boyfriend and the
baby's father, had a court hearing out of town in Erie,
Pennsylvania on July 19, 2012. (Id.) The hearing was
a preliminary hearing for an arrest on charges for possessing
stolen property, possession of marijuana and drug
paraphernalia, and a firearm charge. (Id. at 3.) Despite
postponing inducement, Welker ended up going into labor and
giving birth on July 19, 2012, while Brinkley was in Erie.
(Id. at 2) The testimony of Dr. Carnevale and
Brinkley, as well as the reports of two defense experts make
reference to Brinkley's legal matter. (Id. at
2-4.) Plaintiffs request the Court preclude any such
reference at trial on the grounds that Brinkley's
criminal hearing is irrelevant to the claims in this case and
would be unfairly prejudicial. Defendants did not file a
brief in opposition with respect to this motion.
the Federal Rules of Evidence, 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." FED.
R. EVID. 401. A court may, however, exclude relevant evidence
if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the
danger of unfair prejudice. Fed.R.Evid. 403. The Court agrees
that Brinkley's legal matter in Erie is not relevant to
the claims in this case. Where exactly Brinkley needed to be
on July 19, 2012 could not possibly have any relevance to
whether Defendants committed malpractice, a fact Defendants
evidently do not contest. In fact, Dr. Carnevale testified in
his deposition that the legal matter had nothing to do with
the medical outcome. (ECF No. 71-4 at 3.) The nature of the
legal matter would likewise be prejudicial against
Plaintiffs. Accordingly, the Court will grant Plaintiffs'
motion and preclude any reference to Brinkley's legal
b. Future Life Care Costs Discounted to Present
request the Court preclude one of Defendants' experts
from presenting to the jury JDWBH's future life care
costs discounted to present value. (ECF Nos. 73 & 78.)
Plaintiffs argue that Pennsylvania law provides that awards
for future medical expenses in medical malpractice cases
should not be discounted to present value. Defendants
declined to file a brief in opposition with respect to this
reading of Pennsylvania law appears to be correct.
See 40 P.S. § 1303.509(b) (outlining future
damages in medical malpractice cases); see also
Nicholson-Upsey ex rel. Nicholson v. Tuoey, No. 4525
NOV.TERM 2009, 2013 WL 8596353, at *21 (Pa. Com. PL May 7,
2013) (where the jury awarded damages for future medical
expenses as a total sum and the court subsequently discounted
the award to present value for the purpose of determining
attorney's fees only). Accordingly, the Court will grant
Plaintiffs' motion and preclude Defendants' expert
from presenting JDWBH's life care costs to the jury
discounted to present value.
c. Opinions and Calculations Based Upon the
Affordable Care Act
Plaintiffs ask the Court to preclude Defendants and their
experts from presenting opinions and calculations based upon
the Affordable Care Act ("ACA") with respect to
damages for future life care costs. (ECF Nos. 75 & 79.)
Plaintiffs, relying on several decisions from Federal
District Courts and the Pennsylvania Superior Court, argue
that coverage under the ACA is barred by the collateral
source rule, as recognized under Pennsylvania law. Defendants
argue in opposition that the collateral source rule is
inapplicable to the ACA, that the decisions cited by
Plaintiffs do not involve in depth reasoning and are not
binding on this Court, and Pennsylvania ...