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Wynes v. Paramo

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

February 27, 2018



          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Wynes brought this § 1983 suit against Royal Oak police officer Michael Paramo. Wynes alleges that Paramo mistreated him during an arrest on Halloween night in 2015. Mediation failed, so trial is set for February 27, 2018. Both parties have filed motions in limine on discrete evidentiary matters and the Court conducted a hearing prior to trial. The Court takes each in turn.

         I. Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Andrew Hulett's Social Media Post (ECF 29)

         Wynes moves to exclude a Facebook post made by Andrew Hulett, an eyewitness to Plaintiff's arrest and a likely witness at trial. Wynes argues that the post is irrelevant (FRE 401), more prejudicial than probative (FRE 403), an improper means of impeachment (FRE 609(a)), and inadmissible hearsay (FRE 801). Paramo responds that he does not intend to offer the post as impeachment evidence, or for the truth of any matter asserted by Hulett in the post. Rather, Paramo wishes to use the evidence to demonstrate that the post exacerbated Wynes's embarrassment-for which Wynes seeks damages-and to further show that Wynes failed to mitigate his damages by not asking Hulett to remove the post.

         The Court has reviewed the post and finds that it is not, for the most part, unfairly prejudicial. Hulett describes Wynes's arrest and the prosecution that followed. Although the post refers to various "injustices" and at times uses profanity, neither its political content nor language is so overly inflammatory or polarizing that a reasonable jury, properly instructed, could not properly consider it. The post does, however, also disclose Hulett's criminal conviction. For that reason, the Court will not allow the post to come into evidence as an exhibit. It may be discussed by the parties and used in examinations of witnesses, including for the purpose of impeachment and for the reasons described by Defendant in his brief. The motion will therefore be granted in part and denied in part.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Defendant's Job Performance History and Purported Good Character and Conduct (ECF 30)

         Wynes moves to exclude any testimony or evidence of regarding Paramo's job performance history or purportedly good character or past conduct. Wynes argues that any such evidence is inadmissible character and propensity evidence under Rules 404(a)(1) and 405(a). Paramo insists that he does not intend to introduce the evidence referred to by Wynes and further asks the Court to sanction Wynes's attorney for failing to properly seek concurrence on the matter.

         The Court will decline Paramo's invitation for sanctions, but as there seems no dispute to resolve, the Court will deny Plaintiff's motion without prejudice as premature.

         Should the matter of Paramo's history and character come up at trial, the parties may reargue the matter, in context, at that time.

         III. Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Evidence of Dismissed Claim (ECF 31)

         Wynes initially sued two defendants: Paramo and the City of Royal Oak. The parties stipulated to a dismissal of the Monell claim against Royal Oak and Wynes now moves to exclude any reference to the dismissed claim. Paramo says he "conditionally agreed to stipulate to the exclusion of evidence regarding the Monell claim, if [Wynes] would stipulate to the exclusion of evidence obtained in pursuit of the dismissed claim." ECF 48, PgID 539-40. Wynes apparently refused to stipulate to the exclusion, so Paramo filed a separate motion in limine.

         As explained below, the Court will deny the motion to exclude the police department's policies. See infra Section VI. Unlike the policies, however, the Court does not see the relevance of Wynes's dismissed claim, yet foresees a significant possibility of confusion to the jury. The Court will therefore provisionally grant Wynes's motion, but would entertain further argument from Paramo once the trial is underway.

         IV. Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Prior Medical Records (ECF 32)

         Wynes moves to exclude medical records that predate his arrest on the grounds that they are irrelevant and more prejudicial than probative. Wynes explains that the records disclose medical treatment of a personal and unrelated nature but "do not describe any injury or pre-existing diagnosed condition that is related to [his] claimed damages" and are therefore neither probative nor relevant. ECF 32, PgID 219. Paramo counters that the records reveal that Wynes has suffered from anxiety in the past, which is both relevant to his current claim for emotional pain and suffering ...

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