United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion in limine, R.
Doc. 29, to exclude various evidence from the bench trial in
this matter scheduled to begin Monday, July 10, 2017.
Defendant timely responds. R. Doc. 31. Having reviewed the
parties' arguments and applicable law, the Court now
issues this Order and Reasons.
filed this Jones Act Claim to recover damages for personal
injuries he sustained after a slip and fall while working for
Defendant. R. Doc. 1 at 1-2. According to Plaintiff, on
August 21, 2015, Kelvin Dunn was employed by Defendant
Marquette Transportation Company as a boat captain on the M/V
ST. RITA. R. Doc. 1 at 1-2. While off-duty, he was alerted to
a fuel leak in the engine room of the vessel. R. Doc. 1 at 2.
When he went to investigate the problem, he climbed down the
stairs and entered the engine room, and slipped on a
substance on the floor resulting in numerous fractures to his
hip and/or femur, which required emergency surgery, as well
as injuries to his lumbar spine. R. Doc. 1 at 3. Plaintiff
alleges that his injuries were caused by Defendant's
negligence and unseaworthiness of the vessel. R. Doc. 1 at 3.
seeks past, present and future damages for lost wages and
earning capacity, physical and mental pain and suffering,
disability and loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses,
loss of found, and disfigurement, as well as any other
damages recoverable under the law. R. Doc. 1 at 4. Plaintiff
also seek payments for maintenance and cure, in the event
these payments are not timely made, in addition to punitive
damages, attorney's fees and costs. R. Doc. 1 at 5.
timely answers, and alleges that Plaintiff has not stated a
claim upon which relief can be granted. R. Doc. 5 at 1.
Defendant admits that Plaintiff was a Jones Act Seaman,
employed by Defendant, and was a crew member on a vessel in
navigable waters. R. Doc. 5 at 2. Defendant denies all other
allegations. R. Doc. 5 at 2. Defendant raises several
affirmative defenses, including failure to mitigate,
comparative fault, third party negligence, and the limitation
of liability defense. R. Doc. 5 at 3. Further, Defendant
argues that the vessel was not unseaworthy, it has acted
reasonably in regard to maintenance and cure obligations, and
was not negligent in the maintenance of the vessel. R. Doc. 5
has filed a Motion in limine seeking to exclude
evidence at the upcoming bench trial. R. Doc. 29. First,
Plaintiff seeks to exclude any evidence of his 1998 DWI
conviction and resulting prison sentence. Plaintiff argues
that this information is irrelevant; and even if it were
relevant under Federal Rule of Evidence 402, it would be
excluded under Rule 403, as the prejudicial nature of this
evidence far outweighs any substantive value. Defendant
responds that this conviction is relevant, as Plaintiff's
prior criminal record could impact his future employment
opportunities and therefore damages in this case. R. Doc. 31.
Plaintiff argues that any evidence regarding the anti-anxiety
medication he was prescribed is inadmissible. R. Doc. 29.
According to Plaintiff, Defendant was aware of his medical
condition, and Plaintiff never took the prescribed medication
while on the vessel. Defendant argues that this evidence is
relevant to show Plaintiff's credibility and whether his
reaction to the fuel leak on the day of the accident was
reasonable. Further, Defendant argues that because this
medication would have disqualified Plaintiff from employment
as a caption, the evidence is relevant to evaluate his future
earning potential. R. Doc. 31.
Plaintiff seeks to exclude any reference to how health
insurance could reduce Plaintiff's future medical
expenses. R. Doc. 29. Plaintiff argues that this possible
future benefit is speculative, barred by the collateral
source doctrine, and irrelevant, as Defendant is required to
provide for his medical expenses under the doctrine of
maintenance and cure. Defendant argues that because
healthcare coverage is mandatory under the Affordable Care
Act, Plaintiff will be required to obtain insurance coverage,
which will necessarily decrease his future medical expenses.
R. Doc. 31.
Plaintiff argues that Defendant should be barred from raising
the affirmative defense of the primary duty doctrine, as it
does not apply in this case. R. Doc. 29. According to
Plaintiff, the primary duty doctrine only bars a
plaintiff's recovery when he is injured solely as a
result of his own breach of a duty he consciously assumed in
his employment duties. Thus, he avers it does not apply to
this case, and should be excluded from trial. Defendant
disagrees. According to Defendant, the primary duty doctrine
does apply in this case, as Plaintiff was injured as a result
of his own negligence. R. Doc. 31.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Evidence of 1998 DWI conviction
the Federal Rules, relevant evidence is generally admissible.
Relevance is defined as having any tendency to make a fact
more or less probable than it would be without the evidence,
and the fact is of consequence in determining the action.
Fed.R.Evid. 401, 402. However, even relevant evidence may be
excluded “if its probative value is substantially
outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following:
unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury,
undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting