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Leroy v. Morinda USA, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

October 6, 2017

CAROLYN LEROY, Plaintiff,
v.
MORINDA USA, INC., et al., Defendants.

          R. Steven Whalen United States Magistrate Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE

          PAUL D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Carolyn Leroy brings this negligence and vicarious liability action against Defendants Morinda USA, Inc. (“Morinda”) and Todd Bagley. She alleges that she suffered severe injuries at a convention sponsored by Defendant Morinda when Defendant Bagley (allegedly Defendant Morinda's employee) pulled a chair out from under her as she was sitting down, causing her to fall to the ground.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion in Limine. Through it, Plaintiff seeks an order excluding any documentary or testimonial evidence regarding her Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits and the disabilities for which she receives them. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Motion in Limine will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is a Michigan resident. (ECF No. 1, Compl. ¶ 1.) Defendant Morinda is a foreign corporation with its principal place of business in Utah. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Defendant Bagley is a resident of Utah, and was employed by Defendant Morinda at the time of the events in this action. (Compl. ¶¶ 3-4.)

         On July 20, 2013, Plaintiff attended a Health Awareness Seminar sponsored by Defendant Morinda at the Hilton Garden Inn in Southfield, Michigan. (Compl. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff alleges that as she was attempting to sit down at a table, Defendant Bagley negligently pulled a chair out from under her, causing her to fall to the ground. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that as a result of the fall, she suffered injuries to her hip, back, and neck, some or all of which required surgery. (Id.)

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed this action on April 20, 2016. (ECF No. 1, Compl.) Her Complaint asserts two causes of action: negligence against both Defendants (Count I), and vicarious liability against Defendant Morinda only (Count II). (Compl. ¶¶ 8-21.) This Court's jurisdiction over Plaintiffs claims-both of which arise under state law-is premised on complete diversity of the parties, which Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged and which Defendants have not disputed. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-3; ECF No. 7, Answer at 2.) As part of her negligence claim, Plaintiff asserts that “should it be determined that Plaintiff suffered from any pre-existing relevant diseases or conditions, then such diseases or conditions were accelerated and/or exacerbated by the incident complained of in this action.” (Compl. ¶ 13.)

         No dispositive motions have been filed in this case. After discovery closed and a jury trial was scheduled for October 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion in Limine on June 26, 2017. (ECF No. 18, Pl.'s Mot.) Defendants filed a belated Response on August 17, 2017. (ECF No. 20, Defs.' Resp.) Plaintiff did not file a reply. Because neither party's brief contained citation to case law, the Court ordered supplemental briefing at the August 23, 2017 hearing on the instant Motion. The parties complied. (ECF No. 23, Pl.'s Supp. Br.; ECF No. 24, Defs.' Supp. Br.) The Court now denies Plaintiffs Motion for the reasons below.

         IL LEGAL STANDARDS

         Federal procedural and evidentiary rules, as well as the cases interpreting them, “all encourage, and in some cases require, parties and the court to utilize extensive pretrial procedures - including motions in limine - in order to narrow the issues remaining for trial and to minimize disruptions at trial.” United States v. Brawner, 173 F.3d 966, 970 (6th Cir. 1999); see also Louzon v. Ford Motor Co., 718 F.3d 556, 560 (6th Cir. 2013) (“A motion in limine is any motion, whether made before or during trial, to exclude anticipated prejudicial evidence before the evidence is actually offered.”) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         “Motions in limine typically involve matters which ought to be excluded from the jury's consideration due to some possibility of prejudice or as a result of previous rulings by the Court.” Provident Life & Acc. Ins. Co. v. Adie,176 F.R.D. 246, 250 (E.D. Mich. 1997). District courts have broad discretion over matters involving the admissibility of evidence at trial. See United States v. Seago,930 F.2d 482, 494 (6th Cir. 1991). “[I]n limine rulings are not binding on the trial judge, and the judge may always change his mind ...


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