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LeBlanc v. Disa Global Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

August 29, 2019

JAMES LEBLANC
v.
DISA GLOBAL SOLUTIONS, INC., OUR LADY OF THE LAKE ASCENSION, LLC, AND UNIVERSITY MRO, LLC

          RULING

          SHELLY D. DICK CHIEF JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion in Limine[1] filed by the Plaintiff, James LeBlanc. The Defendant, DISA Global Solutions, Inc. (“DISA”), opposed the Motion[2]. For the reasons which follow, the Court finds that the Motion should be denied in part and granted in part.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This matter involves claims for damages allegedly sustained by Plaintiff resulting from a failed drug test conducted on behalf of his employer, Atlas Copco Rental, LLC (“Atlas”), on February 26, 2016. Plaintiff instituted suit initially against several parties alleging negligence in conducting and reporting an employment related random drug screen. The Court has previously reviewed the procedural and factual history of these proceedings and will not reiterate it herein.[3]

         II. THE PRESENT MOTION IN LIMINE

         Plaintiff moves exclusion of: 1) evidence of Plaintiff's alleged violations of his employer's safety and /or operating rules; 2) testimony that hair tests are 100% reliable; 3) evidence of the Plaintiff's prior alcohol use; and 4) evidence of non-party fault. The Court addresses each seriatim.

         A. Evidence of safety and/or operating rules violations

         “Plaintiff anticipates that DISA may call some of its witnesses to testify that the Plaintiff violated one or more safety or operating rules of his employer at the time of the drug test in question.”[4] Plaintiff argues that such evidence is in the nature of opinion testimony and must be excluded because “DISA has not complied with disclosure requirements regarding expert testimony”.[5] Defendant DISA counters the “Plaintiff's request to bar any testimony that Plaintiff violated [his employers' safety or operating] is improper, as it would prohibit any reference to the central issue of this case, which is Plaintiff's positive drug test result.”[6] Whether drug use violated the employer's operating or safety rules is irrelevant to the negligence claims asserted against DISA.[7] The Motion is granted without prejudice in the event relevance can be shown at the time of trial.

         B. Evidence of the Reliability of Hair Sample Testing

         Plaintiff submits that “[i]t is expected that DISA will attempt to present testimony that hair tests are 100% reliable science”.[8] DISA counters that “DISA has not attempted to put forth any evidence that hair sample drug tests are 100% reliable”.[9] The Motion in Limine as to the degree of reliability of hair sample testing is premature and deferred to trial.

         C. Evidence of Plaintiff's Prior Alcohol Use

         Evidence of the Plaintiff's alleged prior alcohol use would likely run afoul of FRE 404(b). The Court is unpersuaded by the Defendant's argument that “Plaintiff's abuse of alcohol, if any, also bears directly on the question of whether his positive drug test result came about as a result of mistake or accident, as he claims it did.”[10] With these observations, the matter is deferred and objections are reserved to the time of trial. The Defendant is instructed that, if the Defendant seeks to offer evidence of prior alcohol use or abuse, the matter must be taken up in camera outside the presence of the jury.

         D. Evidence of Non-Party Fault

         Plaintiff argues that “allocating the fault of nonparties or dismissed defendants would result in the possibility of penalizing the Plaintiff by forcing the allocation of fault to non-negligent previously dismissed parties thereby reducing his recovery”.[11] The Motion is Denied. Louisiana's negligence law is one of “pure comparative” fault. The “degree or percentage of fault of all persons causing or contributing to the injury, death, or loss shall be determined, regardless of whether the person is a party to the action or a nonparty...”. La. Civil Code art 2323. However, “[w]hen the court grants a motion for summary judgment in accordance with the provisions of this Article, that a party or non-party is not ...


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