United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are three motions in limine filed by the defendant.
The Court rules on the motions as set forth herein.
Jubilee Towing, LLC, first moves to exclude any evidence of
and/or reference to alleged racially discriminatory text
messages sent to the plaintiff by Jubilee employees. The
plaintiff mentioned during his deposition that he was sent
racist text messages by a Jubilee employee towards the end of
his employment, but plaintiff claimed that he deleted the
messages and that he could not specifically recall what the
alleged racist messages said.
argues that there is no evidence that racist messages were
ever sent to plaintiff. But even if they were, Jubilee
contends that such messages would bear no relevance to this
maritime slip-and-fall-overboard case and further that they
would be unduly prejudicial. Jubilee asks the Court to
exclude the messages and any reference to them pursuant to
Rules 402 and 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
response, plaintiff simply states that “[a]t this point
in time, Plaintiff's counsel does not anticipate making
reference to ‘racially discriminatory text messages
sent to plaintiff by Jubilee Towing employees' in front
of the jury, ” but he argues that the Court should
defer a ruling as to the admissibility of such messages in
case an issue arises during trial which would make the
messages relevant. See R. Doc. No. 28. The Court
notes that plaintiff does not explain why the messages are
relevant or identify any scenarios wherein the alleged
messages could become relevant.
order to be relevant, evidence must pertain to a fact that
“is of consequence in determining the action.”
See Fed. R. Evid. 401. Having been presented with no
evidence establishing the substance of the text messages and
no argument by the plaintiff as to why such messages could be
relevant, the Court finds plaintiff's testimony as to the
text messages to be irrelevant and it excludes them pursuant
to Rule 402. Simply put, the Court is unaware of any reason
why racist text messages- even if they exist-would have any
bearing on the facts of this case. After all, establishing
that an employee of the defendant sent the plaintiff racist
text messages at some point after the accident would put the
plaintiff no closer to recovering on his claim that the
captain of defendant's vessel failed to navigate the
vessel in a safe and seamanlike manner.
it appears that any probative value that the messages have is
substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice,
confusing the jury, and wasting time. The messages should
therefore be excluded under Rule 403 as well as pursuant to
Rule 402. Counsel shall instruct their witnesses that the
text messages are not to be mentioned at trial.
second and third motions challenge the admissibility of
opinions by two of plaintiff's experts. After setting
forth the appropriate standard, the Court addresses each
Daubert challenge below.
702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence governs the
admissibility of expert witness testimony. See Daubert v.
Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 588 (1993);
United States v. Hitt, 473 F.3d 146, 148 (5th Cir.
2006). Rule 702 provides:
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education may testify in the form of