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Davis v. CSX Transportation

May 20, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: R. Allan Edgar United States District Judge


Plaintiff Brian Davis brings this action pursuant to the Federal Employees Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq. Trial was originally scheduled in this action for April 15, 2008. The trial schedule has since been amended [Court Doc. No. 39], but the parties seek rulings on certain pre-trial motions. The parties have filed numerous motions in limine in this matter. [Court Doc. Nos. 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 40]. Plaintiff Brian Davis has also filed a motion for sanctions against Defendant CSX Transporation, Inc. ("CSXT"). [Court Doc. No. 42]. Defendant CSXT has further filed a motion for an order granting its motions in limine in full due to Plaintiff's failure to file responses to the motions in a timely manner. [Court Doc. No. 43].

This court heard oral argument on the parties' motions in limine during a hearing held in chambers on April 15, 2008. The court has reviewed the motions, the evidence provided by the parties, and the law and is now prepared to issue rulings regarding some of the parties' motions in limine. Other motions will be resolved at a later date upon the development of additional facts by the parties. This memorandum and order will clarify the court's rulings on all of the pending motions in limine.

A. CSXT's Motion in Limine on Negligence and Causation

This motion in limine [Court Doc. No. 31] deals with the appropriate standard of causation pursuant to FELA. It therefore addresses an issue most appropriately handled in the jury instructions. Therefore, the court will DEFER ruling on this issue until the jury charge conference prior to charging the jury with their instructions in this matter.

B. CSXT's Motion in Limine Regarding Plaintiff's Medical Expenses

CSXT brings this motion to prevent Plaintiff from seeking relief from the jury from "bills or expenses for medical care and treatment incurred by Plaintiff which have been paid on Plaintiff's behalf by CSXT under United Healthcare, GA-23000 which applies to railroads and railroad employees throughout the nation." [Court Doc. Nos. 32, 51]. Defendant claims that the collateral source rule does not apply to benefits paid to Plaintiff under a group insurance policy provided under a collective bargaining agreement. Plaintiff argues that he "has no intent on receiving any double recovery for medical expenses." [Court Doc. No. 45]. However, he argues that evidence of all of his medical expenses should be admitted to demonstrate evidence of the extent and severity of his injuries. The evidence presented by the parties does not indicate what entity has paid for Plaintiff's various medical bills or what medical bills are being shouldered by Plaintiff. As the court indicated to the parties during the hearing on this matter, the court will RESERVE ruling on this issue while the parties obtain records and evidence indicating who has paid for Plaintiff's medical bills.

C. Plaintiff's Motion in Limine Regarding Various Evidentiary Issues

Plaintiff has asked this court to review several different evidentiary issues in one motion in limine. [Court Doc. No. 33].

1. Evidence Pertaining to Effects of Judgments on Insurance Premiums

Plaintiff requests that "CSXT should be prohibited from arguing or introducing any testimony or evidence concerning the effect, or the result of, the claim, suit, or judgment on insurance premiums or charges, or freight charges, either generally or as particularly applied to the Defendant, or as to the jury as members of the community, as a result of this or any other matter." CSXT agrees that such evidence should not be admitted. Therefore, this court finds that no proof on the issues listed supra will be admissible at trial and will GRANT this part of Plaintiff's motion.

2 and 3. Evidence Regarding Plaintiff's Prior and Future Railroad Retirement Board Benefits

Plaintiff requests that CSXT be prohibited from "arguing or introducing any testimony or evidence that Plaintiff has applied for or received benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board of the United States Government in the past" or the future. In Eichel v. New York Cent. Railroad Co., the U.S. Supreme Court addressed whether evidence regarding the disabled railroad worker's disability pension payments pursuant to the Railroad Retirement Act of 1937 was admissible. 375 U.S. 253 (1963). The Supreme Court determined that evidence of such disability payments was not admissible. Id. at 255-256. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion will be GRANTED. CSXT will be prohibited from introducing testimony relating to the Plaintiff's receipt of past Railroad Retirement Board payments or possible future payments.

4. Evidence Regarding the Filing of Plaintiff's Motion in Limine

Plaintiff asks this court to preclude CSXT from introducing testimony pertaining to the filing of this motion in limine. It is not clear that CSXT had any intention of mentioning Plaintiff's motion in limine to the jury. However, the motion on this issue will be GRANTED, and CSXT will be prohibited from introducing testimony regarding this motion in limine.

5. Argument Pertaining to Assumption of Risk

Plaintiff requests that CSXT be precluded from introducing evidence pertaining to the assumption of risk, citing 45 U.S.C. § 54. CSXT indicates that it is not planning on arguing an assumption of risk theory to the jury. The court concludes that the assumption of risk theory is not available to defendants under FELA, and no evidence regarding the assumption of risk theory will be admitted. The court will GRANT this portion of Plaintiff's motion in limine. However, CSXT will not be precluded from arguing that Plaintiff was contributorily negligent.

6 and 7. Testimony Regarding Mitigation of Damages

Plaintiff requests that "CSXT should be prohibited from arguing or introducing any testimony or evidence that Plaintiff failed to mitigate damages by not seeking work after the incident." [Court Doc. No. 33, p. 3]. Plaintiff claims that CSXT has not identified occupations it believes Plaintiff could perform that were available to him and asserts that CSXT has the burden of proving a failure to mitigate damages. The court declines to preclude CSXT from introducing any evidence of mitigation. Therefore, the court will DENY this portion of Plaintiff's motion. However, the court concludes that if CSXT intends to argue at trial that Plaintiff has failed to mitigate his damages, it must share its evidence regarding mitigation of damages with Plaintiff prior to trial.

8. Evidence Regarding Surveillance Activities

Plaintiff requests that CSXT be prohibited from introducing video or photographic evidence pertaining to its surveillance activities of Plaintiff unless such evidence has been produced to Plaintiff in discovery. CSXT agrees that it must produce evidence of its surveillance activities to Plaintiff if it intends to introduce such evidence ...

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