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Burdyn v. Old Forge Borough

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 26, 2017

NASTASHA BURDYN Plaintiff,
v.
OLD FORGE BOROUGH, etal. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROBERT D. MARIANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court are the following Motions in Limine filed by Defendant Old Forge Hose & Engine Company ("OFHE"):

         1. Motion in Limine to Preclude Lay Witnesses from Testifying Regarding Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms, Diagnosis, or Treatment (Doc. 239)

         2. Motion in Limine to Exclude Duplicative or Cumulative Testimony from Plaintiffs Disclosed Expert Witnesses (Doc. 242)

         3. Motion in Limine to Exclude Hindsight Evidence and Arguments (Doc. 245)

         4. Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence of Claimed Emotional Distress and/or Damages Caused by Litigation and/or the Legal Process and to Preclude Plaintiffs Recovery of the Same (Doc, 247)

         The Court will address each motion in turn.

         1, Motion in Limine to Preclude Lay Witnesses from Testifying Regarding Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms, Diagnosis, or Treatment (Doc. 239)

         OFHE argues that "[w]hile Plaintiff may certainly testify as to her experiences, feelings or observations, she has no specialized knowledge, training or education which would allow her to testify as [to] what symptoms are seen in persons suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or the state that her experiences, feelings or observations are related to" PTSD and that Plaintiff must be precluded from testifying as to PTSD "either generally or how she believes she presents with it." (Doc. 240, at 4).

         Plaintiff asserts that she does "not intend to call on lay witnesses, particularly Plaintiff, to testify as an expert regarding posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment." (Doc. 304, at 1). However, Plaintiff argues that she should be allowed to testify "as to what she has observed and/or experienced, her perception of her diagnosis and treatment and information she relayed to her treating mental health providers and may offer lay testimony if it meets the criteria of Rules 701 and 803. (Id. at 7).

         The Court will reserve ruling on this motion until trial. The parties seemingly agree that Plaintiff "may testify as to her experiences, feelings or observations with respect to her claimed damages" (Doc. 334, at 1), and such testimony will be admissible. However, lay witnesses will not be allowed to offer any lay or expert medical opinion with respect to the diagnosis, treatment, or cause of Plaintiffs PTSD. Any other testimony will be subject to timely objection and Plaintiffs demonstration of its admissibility pursuant to the applicable Federal Rules of Evidence, including Rules 701-702, and 803.

         2. Motion in Limine to Exclude Duplicative or Cumulative Testimony from Plaintiff's Disclosed Expert Witnesses (Doc. 242)

         OFHE's next motion in limine requests that the Court "preclude Plaintiff from calling more than one expert to testify as to the nature and extent of her claimed damages, excluding all other cumulative and duplicative expert testimony on the subject." (Doc. 242). Plaintiff responds that she does "not intend to introduce expert testimony that is either duplicative or cumulative in nature" and that defense counsel may object "should they find this not to be the case at trial." (Doc. 303, at 1).

         Federal Rule of Evidence 403 allows a Court to exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of needlessly presenting cumulative evidence. However, where experts approach a material issue from different clinical perspectives, their testimony is not ...


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