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Botey v. Green

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 8, 2017

JONATHAN BOTEY, Plaintiff
v.
ROBERT GREEN, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's following motions in limine:

1. Motion to Preclude Irrelevant Personal Matters of Plaintiff, Jonathan Botey (Doc. 189);
2. Motion to Preclude Irrelevant Personal Matters of Maria Isabelle Lopez-Lake (Doc. 183);
3. Motion to Preclude Testimony of Trooper Joseph H. Nalepa Regarding Accident Reconstruction and the Cause of the Subject Accident (Doc. 179);
4. Motion to Preclude Defendants from Introducing Evidence or Making Comments or Argument Regarding any Adverse Effect of the Accident on Defendants and/or a Verdict Against the Defendants (Doc. 187).

         The Court will address each request in turn. Before doing so, however, the Court notes at the outset that it exercises its discretion to rule in limine on evidentiary issues "in appropriate cases." In re Japanese Elec. Prods. Antitrust Litig., 723 F.2d 238, 260 (3d Cir.1983), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). While motions in limine may serve as a useful pretrial tool that enables a more in-depth briefing than would be available at trial, a court may defer ruling on such motions "if the context of trial would provide clarity." Frintner v. TruePosition, 892 F.Supp.2d 699, 707 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (citing Japanese Bee. Proofs., 723 F.2d at 260).

         "[M]otions in limine often present issues for which final decision is best reserved for a specific trial situation." Walden v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., 126 F.3d 506, 518 n. 10 (3d Cir 1997). Thus, certain motions, "especially ones that encompass broad classes of evidence, should generally be deferred until trial to allow for the resolution of questions of foundation, relevancy, and potential prejudice in proper context." Leonard v. Stemetech Health Scis., Inc., 981 F.Supp.2d 273, 276 (D. Del. 2013). Specifically, "pretrial Rule 403 exclusions should rarely be granted[A] court cannot fairly ascertain the potential relevance of evidence for Rule 403 purposes until it has a full record relevant to the putatively objectionable evidence." In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 916 F.2d 829, 859 (3d Cir. 1990) (emphasis original). Finally, it is important to note that "in limine rulings are not binding on the trial judge, and the judge may always change his mind during the course of a trial." Ohler v. United States, 529 U.S. 753, 758 n.3, 120 S.Ct. 1851, 146 L.Ed.2d 826 (2000).

         With these principles in mind, the Court now turns to Plaintiffs motions.

         1. Motion to Preclude Irrelevant Personal Matters of Plaintiff, Jonathan Botey (Doc. 189)

         Plaintiff requests that the Court preclude the following information, which he deems to be "irrelevant personal matters of Plaintiff';

• Childhood injuries such as fractured ribs, fractured arm, fractured ankles, broken wrist, fractured foot;
• Diagnosis of sleep apnea;
• Childhood epilepsy and ...

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