United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
KAREN WELLS ROBY, Magistrate Judge.
Before the Court is Plaintiff, Joshua Bass's Motion to Exclude Certain Facts from the Uncontested Material Facts Section of the Pretrial Order (R. Doc. 103). The motion is opposed. See R. Doc. 104.
This action arises as a result of the injuries the Plaintiff, Joshua Bass, sustained while on a fixed offshore platform owned by Energy XXI. Bass was employed by Nabors Offshore Services ("Nabors") at the time of the incident. Nabors and the Defendant, Superior Energy Services ("Superior"), were both hired by Energy XXI as independent contractors and both companies had personnel working on the platform.
While on the platform, Superior was tasked with taking a 75-foot jumper hose weighing one thousand pounds from its boat and attaching it to the platform. To move the hose into position on the platform, Nabors used its platform crane, which was operated by a Nabors employee. After the hose had been partially moved so that one end sat on the floor of the platform's pipe rack area and the other end remained elevated, Bass, who was in the pipe rack area, attempted to move the hose by manually pulling on it and injuring his neck.
This action was initiated on July 26, 2013 and is scheduled for a Jury Trial on March 2, 2015. The parties attended a Final Pretrial Conference before the District Judge on February 10, 2015, during which the Plaintiff raised an objection to using his responses to the Defendant's Request for Admission as the Uncontested Material Facts, which would be used by the trial judge and read at the inception of the trial. See R. Doc. 100. The District Judge, during the Pretrial Conference, ordered that (1) the parties return to the undersigned for a follow settlement conference, and (2) refer the pretrial dispute of whether the Plaintiff's responses to the Defendant's Request for Admission should be included as facts in the Uncontested Material Facts portion of the Pretrial Order. Id.
On February 12, 2015, the undersigned held a conference with the parties in the above captioned matter. The second attempt at settling the dispute was unsuccessful. The Court addressed the issue from the Final Pretrial Conference and the Plaintiff re-urged his objection to using his responses to the Defendant's Requests for Admission in the Pre-Trial Order and explained that he was concerned about the Uncontested Material Facts section being read to the jury. Plaintiff argued that his objection to the inclusion of the admissions is dependent on whether the District Judge will actually read the Uncontested Material Facts at trial.
Whether the Court will read the Uncontested Material Facts to the jury rather than draft a statement slightly different based upon the stipulations is not before the undersigned and is traditionally in the province of the presiding trial judge. Nonetheless, the parties agreed that the responses to the Requests for Admission that reference the authentication of documents should not be included in the Uncontested Material Facts section and should not be read to the jury. Specifically, Requests for Admission Nos. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28 shall be excluded. See R. Doc. 103-2, at 6-7. The parties were not able to agree on the remaining admissions and the Plaintiff was directed to file the subject motion memorializing the remaining issues. See R. Doc. 102.
Plaintiff argues that responses to Requests for Admissions are not necessarily conclusive but are merely evidence to be presented at trial. See R. Doc. 103-1, at 2 (citing Rolscreen Co. v. Pella Products of St. Louis, Inc., 64 F.3d 1202 (8th Cir. 1995)). Plaintiff objects to the use of any of the admissions in the Pretrial Order because they do not relate to a significant material trial issue and only material issues should be included. Id. Plaintiff argues that the Pretrial Order is traditionally used to govern the global significant issues set for trial and to frame the case in a very broad perspective for the jury. Id. at 3. Plaintiff argues that the Defendant is actually attempting to use minute factual issues that are out of context and do not related to a material fact. Id.
Plaintiff contends that certain responses to the Requests for Admission should not be included in the Pretrial Order unless all of the responses related to those responses are included. Id. at 1. Plaintiff contends that the responses the Defendant wants to include can be grouped into three topics, and that it would be problematic to read any single admission separate from the companion responses. See id. Plaintiff contends that there are thirteen admissions at issue, and that they can be grouped in the following topics: (1) Admission Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, and 9 relate to recorded statements taken by Ms. Bellinger; (2) Admission Nos. 10, 11, 12, and 15 relate to the subject accident; and (3) Admission Nos. 34, 35, 36, and 39 relate to information contained in documents the Plaintiff signed. See id.
Plaintiff contends that reading these admissions without the related companion admissions would mislead and confuse the jury. For example, Plaintiff argues that Admission Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 6 indicate that Plaintiff gave the recorded statement to Ms. Bellinger on July 1, 2012, that he was not under the influence of mind-altering drugs or alcohol, and that he did not attempt to mislead Ms. Bellinger. Id. at 3. However, Plaintiff argues that in Admission No. 4, which is omitted by the Defendant, Plaintiff denies understanding all of the questions asked by Ms. Bellinger, and in Admission No. 7, which is also omitted, Plaintiff denies remembering the subject accident better on July 1, 2012 than on the day he completed the admissions. Id. Plaintiff argues that reading the admissions in a vacuum would be meaningless to the jury and would potentially mislead the jury. Id. at 4.
Plaintiff additionally argues that the admissions would still serve a very valid purpose at trial even when they are excluded from the Pretrial Order. Id. at 6. Plaintiff contends that the admissions could be used if anyone attempts to dispute the answers to the admissions and the Court could properly instruct the jury. Id. Plaintiff also argues that the defense can properly argue the admitted facts to the jury during his opening and closing statements, which will also allow Plaintiff's counsel an opportunity to identify the admissions that were omitted by the defense. Id.
In opposition, Defendant argues that the entire purpose of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 36 would be defeated if Plaintiff's motion is granted. See R. Doc. 104, at 1. Defendant argues that on the face of Rule 36(b), it states that each admitted fact is conclusively established and that the Fifth Circuit has stated that admissions have the same effect as an admission in a pleading or a stipulation drafted by counsel. Id. at 2. (citing Am. Auto. Ass'n (Inc.) v. AAA Legal Clinic of Jefferson Crooke, P.C., 930 F.2d 1117 (5th Cir. 1991)). Defendant argues that the Plaintiff's admissions are conclusively established ...