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Mays v. Chevron Pipe Line Co

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana

January 17, 2019

PEGGY MAYS ET AL.
v.
CHEVRON PIPE LINE CO. ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion in Limine (Doc. 174) filed by Plaintiffs. For the reasons that follow, the Motion (Doc. 174) is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This dispute arises from an accident on a drilling platform in Louisiana territorial waters. (Doc. 1). James Mays was killed when components of a pressurized valve on a pipeline dislodged and struck him in the head. (Id.). Members of his family sued the pipeline operator, Chevron, for negligence. (Id.). Trial will begin on January 28, 2019. (Doc. 163).

         Now, Plaintiffs move to exclude evidence of (1) an OSHA citation issued to Mays's employer, Furmanite America, Inc.; (2) Mays's post-accident blood alcohol content; (3) Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) benefits Plaintiffs received; (4) Mays's 2013 car accident; (5) Mays's 2010 transient ischemic attack; and (6) the percentage of time Mays worked offshore or on the outer Continental Shelf (OCS). (Doc. 174).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The party objecting to the admissibility of evidence bears the burden of showing that the evidence is inadmissible. Lyondell Chem. Co. v. Occidental Chem. Corp., 608 F.3d 284, 295 (5th Cir. 2010).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. OSHA Citation

         Plaintiffs move to exclude the OSHA citation issued to Furmanite on the ground that the citation is inadmissible hearsay.[1] (Doc. 174-1 at 5). The OSHA citation is hearsay, and hearsay is generally not admissible. See Fed.R.Evid. 802. But Chevron argues that the citation is admissible as a public record under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(8). (Doc. 183 at 2). The Court disagrees.

         A statement of a public office is not barred by the rule against hearsay if the statement contains factual findings from a legally authorized investigation and the statement's opponent does not give the Court reason to question the source's trustworthiness. FED. R. Evid. 803(8).

         The OSHA citation does not fall under the public record exception. The citation is non-final, and it contains no "factual findings." See Williams u. Manitowoc Cranes, LLC, No. 1:14-CV-383-HSO-JCG, 2016 WL 7666142, at *8 (S.D.Miss. Oct. 7, 2016) (citing Smith v. Isuzu Motors Ltd., 137 F.3d 859, 862 (5th Cir. 1998)). Even if the citation contained factual findings, the Court would conclude that the citation is not admissible because the Court has reason to question the trustworthiness of the information in the citation. See Lacey v. Arkema Inc., No. 3:10-CV-00669-BAJ, 2014 WL 1327792, at *5 (M.D. La. Mar. 31, 2014) (holding that OSHA citation did not qualify as a public record under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(8) due to trustworthiness concerns).

         Because the OSHA citation is hearsay not subject to the public record exception, and because Chevron offers no other basis for admitting it, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion to exclude the citation.[2]

         B. Post-Accident ...


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