United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
before the Court are Plaintiffs following motions in limine:
1, Motion to Preclude Inadmissible Lay Opinion Testimony
2. Motion to Preclude the Testimony and Opinions of
Defendants' Expert Steven W. Rickard (Doc. 193).
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 Elec. Prods., 723 F.2d at 260).
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).
these principles in mind, the Court now turns to Plaintiffs
Motion to Preclude Inadmissible Lay Opinion Testimony (Doc.
Plaintiffs "Motion to Preclude Inadmissible Lay Opinion
Testimony" (Doc. 181), Plaintiff seeks to preclude Derek
Strauss and Gurjit Sanghera, "two individuals who
allegedly witnessed the subject accident", "from
offer[ing] any opinion testimony regarding who [each person]
believes was at fault for the subject accident." (Doc.
182, at 2, 3). Plaintiff also seeks to preclude Strauss from
"offering any opinion or testimony regarding the speed
of Plaintiffs vehicle" as well as "any opinion
testimony regarding how long Defendant Green's
tractor-trailer was on the roadway prior to impact."
(Doc. 182, at 5).
to Federal Rule of Evidence 701, the opinion testimony of a
witness who is not testifying as an expert is limited to one
that is (1) "rationally based on the witness's
perception", (2) helpful to clearly understanding the
witness's testimony or to determining a fact in
issue", and (3) not based on scientific, technical, or
other specialized knowledge within the scope of Rule
702", which governs testimony by an expert witness.
respect to Sanghera, Plaintiff objects to the following
exchange from Sanghera's Recorded Statement:
Q. And in your opinion, you know, from being a witness and
seeing the accident who's [sic] fault would you
think the accident was?
A. I have been driving from 2004. I've been driving
trucks. All I can say is it's the car driver's fault
because even, even let's say even truck driver he
didn't see him, but car driver did see the big truck, big
rig coming through ...