United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ANTOINE SAACKS, ET AL.
PRIVILEGE UNDERWRITERS RECIPROCAL EXCHANGE
ORDER & REASONS
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Appeal the
Magistrate's Decision on Plaintiff's Motion to
exclude evidence of convictions and arrests. R. 216. The
Court has reviewed the record, the magistrate's ruling,
Plaintiffs' arguments and applicable law, and now issues
this Order and Reasons.
case arises from a car accident that occurred on December 30,
2014, on North Causeway Boulevard in Metairie, Louisiana.
According to Plaintiff Antoine Saacks, he was struck by
Jonathan St. Pierre as the two drove along the causeway. R.
1-1 at 1. Mr. St. Pierre was insured by Progressive Security
Insurance Company (“Progressive”), but his policy
was capped at $50, 000. R. 1-1 at 1. Progressive paid to the
limit of the policy, but Mr. Saacks contends that $50, 000 is
insufficient to compensate him and his wife for their losses.
R. 1-1 at 1.
time of the accident, Mr. Saacks carried underinsured
motorist coverage with Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal
Exchange (“Privilege”). Mr. Saacks sought to
collect the balance of his damages from his insurance policy,
PURE Private Fleet Auto Policy Number PA041437901 (“the
policy”). On December 15, 2015, Plaintiffs Antoine
& Kim Saacks brought the instant action in the 24th
Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson. R. 1-1
at 1. Plaintiffs also contend that Privilege wrongly failed
to tender a fair sum or to fairly settle the Plaintiffs'
claim within sixty days of receipt of Plaintiffs' medical
documentation, as required by LSA-R.S. 22:1892 and LSA-R.S.
22:1973. R. 1-1 at 2. Plaintiffs seek the balance of their
damages from the December 30, 2014, car accident, as well as
monetary penalties provided for by Louisiana law. R. 1-1 at
removed the suit to this Court on February 8, 2016. R. 1.
Privilege timely Answers and denies Plaintiffs'
allegations. R. 4 at 1-3. Privilege asserts a number of
affirmative defenses, including insurance fraud. R. 4 at 3-6.
In 1996, Plaintiff Antoine Saacks was convicted of bankruptcy
fraud and was sentenced to prison for two years. On November
11, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to exclude evidence of
Mr. Saacks' previous arrest and conviction for bankruptcy
fraud. R. 36. The Court referred the Motion to Magistrate
Judge North, R. Doc. 98, who heard oral argument on the
reviewing the parties' motions and their statements
during oral argument, Magistrate North denied Plaintiffs'
motion to exclude evidence of Mr. Saacks' arrest and
conviction for bankruptcy fraud. R. 215. The Magistrate
determined the evidence was admissible under Federal Rule of
Evidence 609 because the elements of the crime required proof
of the witness' dishonest acts or false statements. R.
215 at 1-2 (citing United States. v. Porter, No.
13-CR-066, 2016 WL 879996 (E.D. La. Mar. 8, 2016)).
Magistrate North reasoned that “[b]ankruptcy fraud is a
quintessential example of a crime of dishonesty and is highly
probative of the witness' truthfulness.”
See, e.g., Smith v. Great West Cas.
Co., No. 05-CV-4654, 2007 WL 4114342 at *2 (E.D. La.
Nov. 15, 2007).
because the conviction occurred more than 10 years ago, this
evidence is only admissible if its probative value
substantially outweighs its prejudicial effect, and the
proponent gives the adverse party reasonable written notice
of their intent to use the evidence. Fed.R.Evid. 609(b). In
light of this condition, the Magistrate analyzed the five
factors which the Fifth Circuit requires courts to consider
when weighing the probative value and prejudicial effect of a
prior conviction. These factors are:
(1) The nature [impeachment value] of the crime.
(2) The time of conviction.
(3) The similarity between the past crime and the charged
(4) The importance of defendant's testimony.
(5) The centrality of the credibility testimony.
United States v. Acosta, 763 F.2d 671, 695 (5th Cir.
1985). Magistrate North determined that the first, fourth,
and fifth factors weighed in favor of admission, the third
factor was neutral, and only the second factor weighed in
favor of exclusion. Specifically, Magistrate North reasoned
that the nature of the prior conviction-fraud-is highly
probative of the witness' truthfulness and Mr.
Saacks' credibility is “crucially important”
in all aspects of this case. Based on the specific facts and
circumstances of this case, Magistrate North determined that
the probative value of the conviction substantially
outweighed its prejudicial effect, and the evidence is
admissible. R. 215 at 2-3; see United States v.
Acosta, 763 F.2d 671, 695 (5th Cir.), cert.
denied, 474 U.S. 863, 106 ...