United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville
JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
L. COLLIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are six motions in limine filed by Defendant (Docs.
196, 197, 198, 199, 200, and 208). Plaintiff responded
collectively to the first five motions (Doc. 201) and
Defendant replied collectively to the first five motions
(Doc. 206). Plaintiff then responded separately to
Defendant's final motion. (Doc. 209.) Each motion will be
addressed in turn. For the reasons explained below,
Defendant's first five motions in limine (Docs. 196, 197,
198, 199, and 200) are DENIED subject to the
qualifications described below, and Defendant's sixth
motion in limine (Doc. 208) is GRANTED IN
PART subject to the qualifications described
Motion to Prohibit Introduction of 2011 Appraisal
moves to exclude the 2011 appraisal of the home under Federal
Rules of Evidence 401 and 403. Under Rule 401, Defendant
argues the 2011 appraisal of the home is not relevant to the
auction at issue in this case, which took place in 2014.
Under Rule 403, Defendant argues introduction of the 2011
appraisal, which values the home at $480, 000, may confuse or
mislead the jury, and because the probative value of the
appraisal is low the risk of confusing the jury substantially
outweighs the probative value of the appraisal.
Court disagrees with both arguments. The appraised value of a
home, the value the home would be expected to sell for in a
traditional sale, and the value the home would be expected to
sell for at auction may not necessarily be the same, but that
does not mean the values are unrelated or irrelevant to one
another. The appraised value of a home on a given
date may be different than what the home would actually sell
for on the same date in a traditional sale, which in turn may
be different than what the home would sell for at auction on
the same date. Moreover, the connection between these values
becomes more attenuated as time passes between the dates
associated with each value. But it is incorrect to say these
values are unrelated or irrelevant to one another. Contrary
to Defendant's argument, the appraised value of a home is
relevant to the value it would be expected to sell for at
auction, despite the fact that these two values may not be
the same. In fact, at the auction, Bill Colson announced that
the home had been appraised at $480, 000 just a few years
earlier in an apparent attempt to solicit higher bids, thus
demonstrating that he felt the appraised value was relevant
information for the bidders. (Doc. 70 at 15.) Evidence of the
value of the home, which includes the 2011 appraisal, may be
relevant and useful in demonstrating Plaintiff's alleged
injury and damages, and thus the Court finds that it meets
the requirements of Rule 401.
regard to Defendant's argument under Rule 403, it appears
Defendant is concerned the jury will infer $480, 000 is the
price the home would have been expected to sell for at
auction if properly advertised. The Court assumes, however,
that Defendant will introduce argument and evidence
clarifying to the jury that the home may not have been
expected to sell for $480, 000 at auction in 2014, despite
the fact that it was appraised at this value in 2011, and
that the jury will be able to follow and understand this line
of argument. The Court thus concludes the potential risk of
jury confusion does not create an issue under Rule 403.
these reasons, the Court DENIES
Defendant's first motion in limine (Doc. 196).
Motion to Exclude Anticipated Testimony of Richard Exton and
Introduction of the 2015 Appraisal
argues Plaintiff should be barred from introducing the expert
testimony of Richard Exton and Mr. Exton's 2015 appraisal
of the home. The Court will first address the 2015 appraisal,
as the evidentiary value of this appraisal is similar to that
of the 2011 appraisal, as explained above.
contained in the 2015 appraisal is relevant and useful to aid
the jury in determining the price at which the home may have
sold for at auction if it had been properly advertised. This
is the case despite the fact that the 2015 appraisal may not
describe the value of the home at the time of the auction or
the anticipated value of the home in an auction setting, as
opposed to a traditional real estate transaction. These
shortcomings, and any potential flaws, oversights, or
inconsistencies contained in the 2015 appraisal, to which
Defendant refers in her motion, may be addressed on cross
examination. Defendant will also have the opportunity to
offer competing evidence probative of what the home would
have sold for at auction if properly advertised.
regard to Mr. Exton's qualifications as an expert, Mr.
Exton is a certified appraiser, and thus is qualified to
offer an opinion as to the value of a home. Defendant argues
Mr. Exton's qualifications and background are in
traditional real estate appraisal, as opposed to auctions,
and thus his expertise is not relevant to the sale at issue.
The Court disagrees. First, as the Court has previously
stated, the value a home would be expected to sell for in a
traditional real estate transaction is relevant to and
probative of the value a home would be expected to sell for
at auction, even if the two values are likely to be
different. As a result, Mr. Exton's expertise in
traditional real estate appraisals and sales will be useful
to the jury, even if his expertise as to auction sales is
limited. Any limitations in Mr. Exton's experience or
qualifications may be addressed on cross examination, and, as
mentioned above, Defendant will have the opportunity to offer
competing evidence probative of what the home would have sold
for at auction if properly advertised. Defendant's second
motion in limine (Doc. 197) is DENIED.
Motion to Exclude Testimony by the Plaintiff Concerning the
Value of the Property
argues Plaintiff should be barred from testifying as to the
value of the home, as only an owner of real estate may
testify to the value of the real estate as a lay witness.
State v. Bridgeforth, 836 S.W.2d 591, 593 (Tenn.
Crim. App. 1992). While this is the case in Tennessee, it is
not the case in federal court, as this Court must apply the
Federal Rules of Evidence and controlling federal case law.
See Fed. R. Evid. 1101; U.S. ex rel Tennessee
Valley Authority v. Easement and Right of Way Over a Tract of
Land in Madison Cty., Tennessee, 405 F.2d 305, 307 (6th
Cir. 1968) (“In determining the land's fair market
value . . . opinion evidence usually may be admitted from
those who are not strictly experts, the test being whether it
can be shown the witness knows the land and its surroundings
and has an opinion based on more than conjecture . .
.”) (despite the fact that this case was decided before
the adoption of the federal rules of ...