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Villareal v. Starbucks Corp.

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

July 18, 2019

MARTHA VILLAREAL
v.
STARBUCKS CORPORATION

          HORNSBY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Starbucks Corporation's (“Defendant”) “Motion in Limine and Motion for Summary Judgment.” Record Document 17. Plaintiff Martha Villareal (“Plaintiff”) opposes the motion. See Record Document 19. Defendant seeks dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion in Limine is DENIED IN PART AND DEFERRED IN PART and Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings this action seeking damages for injuries she allegedly sustained as a result of a slip and fall incident at Defendant's Starbucks location on Beene Boulevard in Bossier City, Louisiana. See id. at 1; see Record Document 28 at 2. Plaintiff claims that she slipped on Defendant's wet floor and struck her head on a display before falling to the ground. See Record Document 19 at 1; Record Document 17-2 at 4. She also alleges that Defendant's employees, in violation of its procedures and policies, mopped said floor two hours before closing and failed to have the appropriate wet floor signs in place. See Record Document 19 at 1.

         After the alleged incident, Plaintiff was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with a concussion. See id.; see Record Document 17-9 at 2. Thereafter, Plaintiff underwent treatment from Dr. John Reeves, a neurosurgeon, and Dr. Jane Savells, a chiropractor, among others. See Record Document 28 at 2. Plaintiff alleges that she sustained several injuries as a result of the incident, including neck and back injuries, a concussion and post-concussion syndrome, headaches, and depression, and further maintains that such harm entitles her to damages and past and future medical expenses. See Record Document 1 at 3.

         On June 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court. See id. Thereafter, Defendant filed the instant “Motion in Limine and Motion for Summary Judgment” asserting various arguments regarding Plaintiff's alleged lack of evidence and inability to prove her injuries, all of which, according to Defendant, entitle it to a judgment in its favor dismissing Plaintiff's claims. See Record Document 17 at 1-2.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Defendant's Motion in Limine

         The Court first addresses Defendant's Motion in Limine in which it asserts, inter alia, that Plaintiff's treating physicians should be precluded from “opin[ing] as to causation due to [Plaintiff's] failure to comply with the expert disclosure requirements” and thus should be confined to testifying only as fact witnesses regarding their treatment of Plaintiff. Record Document 17-1 at 5. Plaintiff responds that no expert reports or disclosures were required because it intends for the physicians to testify only as to matters learned through their actual treatment of Plaintiff. See Record Document 19 at 2.

         In contrast to “retained” expert witnesses under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(B), courts generally do not require expert reports for a party's treating physicians. See, e.g., Butler v. Louisiana, No. 12-0420, 2014 WL 7186120, at *2 (M.D. La. Dec. 16, 2014) (citing cases); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2)(B) advisory committee's note (1993) (stating that treating medical professionals may be “called to testify at trial without any requirement for a written report”). Furthermore, courts within this Circuit have permitted treating physicians to testify regarding issues such as causation if such matters were learned through their treatment of the party. See Dauterive v. Guilbeau Marine Logistics LLC, No. 15-2182, 2018 WL 3414595, at *3 (W.D. La. July 12, 2018); Knorr v. Dillard's Store Servs. Inc., No. 04-3208, 2005 WL 2060905, at *3 (E.D. La. Aug. 22, 2005) (“A treating physician may testify to his opinions about a plaintiff's injuries if his testimony is based on knowledge acquired during the course of his treatment of the plaintiff.”).

         In this case, the Court finds that Plaintiff did not fail to comply with expert disclosure requirements regarding her treating physicians as she was only required to disclose their medical reports and bills, which Defendant does not dispute occurred here. See Record Document 19 at 2; see Record Document 17-1 at 8. Further, while the Court is unclear as to Plaintiff's intentions regarding the full extent of her treating physicians' testimony at trial, the Court will allow such testimony as long as it relates to matters that were learned through their treatment of Plaintiff, including the issue of causation. Accordingly, insofar as Defendant objects to the testimony of Plaintiff's treating physicians based on Plaintiff's alleged violation of the expert disclosure requirements, Defendant's Motion in Limine is DENIED.

         In addition, the parties briefly make arguments as to whether Plaintiff's treating physicians from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (the “VA”) should be permitted to testify at trial. See Record Document 17-1 at 8; Record Document 19 at 3-4. Defendant maintains that upon requesting the depositions of several VA physicians, it was allegedly informed by a VA official that “any attempt to subpoena any V.A. medical provider would be quashed.” Record Document 17-1 at 8. However, because this issue has only been presented to the Court via the parties' briefing as opposed to the appropriate discovery motion, Defendant's Motion in Limine is DEFERRED to the extent it concerns this issue.

         B. Summary ...


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