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Jeanes v. McBride

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana

June 7, 2019

JANET JEANES, Plaintiff
v.
GREG MCBRIDE, ET AL., Defendants

         SECTION: “E” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SUSIE MORGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a motion in limine to limit testimony, filed by Defendant Greg McBride.[1] Plaintiff Janet Jeanes opposes the motion.[2] For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the motion, as set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the construction of a building (“the Building”) on Jeanes' property at 2534 Hampton Dupre Road in Pine Prairie, Louisiana.[3] In the summer of 2010, Jeanes began discussing the construction of the Building with McBride.[4] McBride submitted a proposal to Jeanes, which she signed on September 23, 2010 (“the Proposal”).[5] The materials and plans for the roof of the Building were provided by S & S Steel Buildings, Inc., doing business as Metal Roofing Supply (“S & S”).[6] Roy Bergis Smith, through his company, E. Smith Plumbing Service, Inc. (“E. Smith Plumbing”), provided plumbing services for the Building.[7]

         On September 9, 2016, Jeanes filed the instant suit.[8] She alleges McBride did not obtain the permit required for constructing the Building and that there were numerous defects in the Building.[9] In her Complaint and Amended Complaint, Jeanes names five Defendants: McBride; Metal Buildings by Mac, LLC (“Metal Buildings”); S & S; Roy Bergis Smith; and E. Smith Plumbing. She brings five claims: (1) breach of contract against all Defendants, (2) negligence against S & S, (3) fraud against all Defendants, (4) violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (“LUTPA”)[10] against all Defendants, and (5) successor liability against Metal Buildings.[11] The claims against all Defendants but McBride have been dismissed.[12] The claims against McBride are for breach of contract, fraud, and violation of LUTPA.[13]

         On April 5, 2019, McBride filed the instant motion to limit testimony.[14] He seeks to exclude (1) testimony McBride was responsible for design defects in the Building, (2) estimates of construction repair costs performed by James Decker, and (3) evidence of alleged concrete and plumbing defects in the Building.[15] Jeanes opposes.[16]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Jeanes will be permitted to introduce evidence regarding design defects.

         McBride argues Jeanes should not be permitted to introduce evidence regarding design defects because she did not allege in her Complaint that McBride was responsible for design defects in the Building.[17] As a result, he argues evidence of design defects would be unfairly prejudicial to him under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Rule 403 provides, “The court may exclude relevant evidence 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 cumulative evidence.”[18]

         On April 5, 2019, Jeanes and McBride filed motions for summary judgment on whether McBride is entitled to immunity on claims related to design defects in the Building under La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2771.[19] On June 4, 2019, the Court granted Jeanes motion for partial summary judgment and denied McBride's motion for summary judgment, finding McBride is not entitled to immunity under La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2771.[20]In the Court's ruling on the parties' motions for summary judgment, the Court found the Complaint alleged McBride was responsible for design defects, and McBride made or caused to be made the plans and specifications for the Building.[21] As a result, the Court found McBride is not entitled to immunity under La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2771.[22]

         Because McBride may be liable for damages resulting from design defects in the Building's plans and specifications, evidence related to design defects has substantial probative value. Because the Complaint alleged McBride was responsible for design defects, introduction of such evidence would not be unfairly prejudicial to McBride. Jeanes will be permitted to introduce evidence with respect to design defects. The Court denies McBride's motion in limine to exclude evidence of design defects.

         II. James Decker's estimates of construction repair costs will be excluded.

         McBride argues estimates of construction costs prepared by James Decker should be excluded.[23]

         On April 5, 2019, McBride filed a motion to exclude and/or limit the testimony of Jeanes' proposed expert Philip Beard.[24] McBride argued, in part, that Beard's testimony regarding damages estimates should be excluded because Beard did not prepare the estimate, but rather relied on the estimate provided by James Decker, a third party contractor.[25] On June 6, 2019, the Court granted that portion of the motion and ordered that Beard's testimony on Decker's estimates of construction repair costs be excluded.[26]

         For the reasons set forth in the Court's order on McBride's motion in limine to exclude and/or limit Beard's testimony, the Court grants McBride's motion to exclude ...


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