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Franco v. Mabe Trucking Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

March 20, 2019

DAVID FRANCO
v.
MABE TRUCKING CO., ET AL.

          MAG. JUDGE KAREN L. HAYES

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending here is an Omnibus Motion in Limine [Doc. No. 131] filed by Defendants Mabe Trucking Co., Inc., (“Mabe”); Richard Agee (“Agee”); and National Interstate Insurance Company. Plaintiff David Franco (“Franco”) has filed an opposition [Doc. No. 149].

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case arises out of a motor vehicle accident. On or about November 24, 2015, Franco's vehicle was involved in a collision with an 18-wheel truck owned by Mabe and being driven by Agee on Interstate 20 in Louisiana.

         Franco alleges that the accident was caused by the negligent operation of the Mabe truck by Agee in pulling onto Interstate 20 directly in front of him. Defendants contend the accident was caused solely by the negligence of Franco in not paying attention and rear-ending the Mabe truck.

         On November 22, 2016, Franco filed suit against Mabe in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, alleging diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). On July 6, 2017, the suit was transferred to this Court. On May 3, 2018, Franco filed a Supplemental and Amended Complaint adding Agee and National Interstate Insurance Company as defendants.

         Defendants present fifteen (15) subparts in their motion in limine for the Court's consideration. The Court will consider each in turn.

         1. The parties' relative financial positions

         Defendants move the Court to preclude Franco from offering any evidence or argument about Franco's financial condition, Defendants' financial condition, and/or their disparity.

         Franco does not oppose this request.

         Subpart (1) to Defendants' motion in limine is GRANTED. Any argument about or any reference to the relative financial positions of Defendants and Franco is excluded.

         2. Franco's physical condition and work capacity

         Defendants move the Court to exclude evidence from lay witnesses concerning Franco's medical condition, work capacity, or alleged disability because lay witnesses are incompetent to testify to matters of a medical nature and because such testimony is hearsay. FED. R. EVID. 601, 602, 702, and 801.

         Franco responds that both expert and lay witnesses can testify to their respective personal observations of his behavior, including observed physical conditions. FED. R. EVID. 701.

         Subpart (2) to Defendants' motion in limine is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. To the extent Defendants seek to exclude testimony from a lay witness as to Franco's medical condition, work capacity, or alleged disability, the motion is GRANTED. To the extent Defendants seek to exclude testimony from a lay witness as to his observations of Franco's physical condition and behavior, the motion is DENIED. Lay witnesses can testify as to observed physical conditions and behavior.

         The Court further notes Franco has dismissed his lost wage and loss of earning capacity claims, so the Court does not anticipate testimony in this regard. [Doc. No. 129].

         3. Exclusion of Franco's future damages unless reduced to present value.

         Defendants contend that evidence of the amount of future damages, if any, must be reduced to their present value. See Culver v. Slater Boat Co., 722 F.2d 114 (5th Cir. 1983). Defendants argue, therefore, that to the extent Franco attempts to present any calculation of future medical expenses, those calculations must be reduced to the present value.

         Franco responds that neither Louisiana nor federal law requires non-economic damages be reduced to present value by an economist. Franco contends that Defendants' cited support, Culver v. Slater Boat Co., stands only for the proposition that pecuniary losses in cases governed by federal law must be reduced to present value. See id., at 122.

         Courts in the Western District of Louisiana have consistently held that future losses (income and medical expenses) must be discounted to present value. However, awards for future pain and suffering are not discounted to present value. See Schannette v. United Specialty Ins. Co., No. 6:16-cv-01082, 2016 WL 8453635 at *4 (W.D. La. 1/6/16) ((“Future losses (income and medical expenses), however, must be discounted to present value.”)); Baham v. Nabors Drilling USA, LP, 721 F.Supp.2d 499, 515 (W.D. La. 2010) ((“With the exception of awards for future pain and suffering, future losses (income and medical expenses) must be discounted to present value.”))

         The Court again notes that Franco has dismissed his lost wage and loss of earning capacity claims. [Doc. No. 129].

         Subpart (3) to Defendants' motion in limine is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. To the extent Defendants request exclusion of evidence of Franco's future medical expenses unless discounted to present value, the motion is GRANTED. To the extent Defendants request exclusion of evidence of Franco's future pain and suffering unless discounted to present value, the motion is DENIED.

         4. Exclusion of references to punitive or exemplary damages

         Defendants ask the Court to exclude any reference to punitive or exemplary damages since those damages ...


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