Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gorsline v. Speedway LLC

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

December 21, 2017

Kathleen Gorsline, Plaintiff,
v.
Speedway LLC, Defendant.

          United States Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE [24, 25, 26] AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE [23]

          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         On September 15, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendant Speedway's Motion for Summary Judgment. See Dkt. No. 22. The Court granted Defendant's motion on Plaintiff Kathleen Gorsline's ordinary negligence claim, and denied Defendant's motion on Plaintiff's premises liability claim. Id.

         Presently before the Court are four motions in limine, one filed by the Plaintiff and three filed by the Defendant [23-26]. Plaintiff has moved in limine to exclude evidence of the absence of accidents caused by the water display in Defendant's store [23]. Defendant has moved in limine to preclude evidence of its internal policies and procedures [24], references to its corporate wealth, financial disparities between the parties, or both [25], and references to it as an “oil company” [26].

         The motions are sufficiently briefed and the Court held a hearing on the motions on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.[1] At the hearing, the Court ruled on these motions from the bench. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTED as uncontested Defendant's Motions in Limine to Preclude References to Its Corporate Wealth, Financial Disparities Between the Parties, or Both [25], and References to It as an “Oil Company” [26]. The Court GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence of the Absence of Accidents [23]. The Court also GRANTED Defendant's Motion in Limine to Preclude Evidence of Its Internal Policies and Procedures [24].

         II. Discussion

         A. Defendant's Motions in Limine to Preclude References to Corporate Wealth and the Financial Disparities Between the Parties [25], and References to the Defendant as an “Oil Company” [26]

         As an initial matter, the Court can easily resolve Defendant's Motions in Limine to Preclude References to Its Corporate Wealth, Financial Disparities Between the Parties, or Both [25], and References to It as an “Oil Company” [26].Plaintiff has concurred in Defendant's motions to exclude this evidence.[2] See Dkt.No. 33, pp. 1-2 (Pg. ID 391-92). Consequently, the Court will GRANT these motions as uncontested.

         B. Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Preclude Evidence of the Absence of Accidents [23]

         The Court will next turn to Plaintiff's motion in limine. Dkt. No. 23. This motion is to prevent the Defendant from presenting evidence at trial that no one besides the Plaintiff tripped over the water display. Id. at p. 2 (Pg. ID 322). Plaintiff argues that, under Michigan law, this evidence is inadmissible to prove that the Defendant was not negligent. Id. at p. 6 (Pg. ID 326). Speedway responds that it does not intend to introduce evidence of the absence of accidents to show that it was not negligent. Dkt. No. 32, p. 7 (Pg. ID 385). Instead, Speedway contends it will offer this evidence to illustrate that the water display “was open and obvious and avoidable.” Id. at pp. 6-7 (Pg. ID 384-85).

         The Court holds that evidence of the absence of accidents is inadmissible to show that the Defendant was not negligent. Evidence of whether other individuals in the store had difficulty traversing the aisleway with the water display is admissible, however. It is admissible for the limited purpose of describing the condition of the aisleway around the time of Plaintiff's accident.

         The parties agree that McAuliff v. Gabriel, 34 Mich.App. 344, 191 N.W.2d 128 (1971), is instructive. But, they disagree about how that case should apply here. The Court finds that the Defendant adopts the better view of McAuliff.

         In McAuliff, the court began its analysis by affirming the general principle that “[t]estimony showing the absence of prior accidents is not competent evidence on the issue of defendants' alleged lack of negligence.” Id. at 131. Indeed, “Michigan courts have long held that negative evidence, i.e., evidence regarding the absence of accidents, is inadmissible to show an absence of negligence.” Paul v. Henri-Line Mach. Tools, Inc., 557 F. App'x 535, 540-41 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Grubaugh v. City of St. Johns, 82 Mich.App. 282, 266 N.W.2d 791, 794 (1978)). The McAuliff court continued-and Plaintiff fails to acknowledge-that some evidence pertaining to the condition of the premises does not violate the negative evidence rule. Specifically, evidence that is “carefully limited” to “what [the witnesses] themselves had observed and what, if any difficulties had been encountered in entering or exiting the defendants' ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.