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J. Lloyd International, Inc. v. Super Wings International, Ltd.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

December 22, 2016

J. LLOYD INTERNATIONAL, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
SUPER WINGS INTERNATIONAL, LTD., Defendant. SUPER WINGS INTERNATIONAL, LTD., Counter Claimant,
v.
J. LLOYD INTERNATIONAL, INC., Counter Defendant.

          ORDER

          LINDA R. READE CHIEF JUDGE

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION ....................................... 2

         II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY ........................ 2

         III. ANALYSIS ........................................... 2

         A. Keener's Prior Convictions ............................ 3

         B. Non-Ownership of Property ............................ 6

         C. Financial Condition ................................ 12

         D. Keener's Bankruptcy ............................... 12

         E. Settlement Negotiations .............................. 13

         F. Expert Witness ................................... 14

         G. Non-Expert Testimony Regarding Damages ................ 17

         H. Late-Disclosed Exhibits .............................. 20

         I. Parol Evidence Rule and Dora Yip ...................... 21

         IV. CONCLUSION ....................................... 24

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The matters before the court are Plaintiff J. Lloyd International, Inc.'s (“JLI”) “First Motion in Limine” (“JLI Motion”) (docket no. 54) and Defendant Super Wings International (“SWI”) “Motions in Limine” (“SWI Motion”) (docket no. 55).

         II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 13, 2015, JLI filed a Complaint (docket no. 2), alleging two claims against SWI: (1) breach of written contract and (2) conversion. On February 25, 2016, SWI filed an Answer (docket no. 31), denying liability and alleging four counterclaims against JLI: (1) a request for declaratory judgment; (2) breach of contract; (3) breach of implied contract; and (4) unjust enrichment. A jury trial is scheduled to begin on January 16, 2017. See Feb. 2, 2016 Order (docket no. 27).

         On December 8, 2016, JLI filed the JLI Motion and SWI filed the SWI Motion. On December 15, 2016, SWI filed a Resistance (“SWI Resistance”) (docket no. 58) to the JLI Motion and JLI filed a Resistance (“JLI Resistance”) (docket no. 59) to the SWI Motion. On December 22, 2016, the court held a final pretrial conference (“FPTC”), at which the court heard arguments regarding the parties motions. See Dec. 22, 2016 Minute Entry (docket no. 62). The matters are fully submitted and ready for decision.

         III. ANALYSIS

         In the JLI Motion, JLI seeks pretrial rulings excluding admission of the following at trial: (1) evidence of prior convictions of JLI's owner, Jody Keener; (2) evidence that JLI does not own the property at issue in the case; (3) evidence of JLI's financial condition; (4) evidence of Keener's involvement in numerous bankruptcy proceedings and (5) evidence of settlement negotiations between JLI and SWI. See generally JLI Motion. In the SWI Motion, SWI seeks pretrial rulings excluding admission of the following at trial: (1) opinion testimony from JLI's expert witness regarding lost-profits damages; (2) opinion testimony from Keener regarding property valuation and damages; (3) any exhibits undisclosed prior to JLI's submission of its proposed exhibit list; and (4) evidence of oral statements or other extrinsic evidence relating to the contents of the contract at issue in the case. See generally SWI Motion. The court shall address each topic in turn.

         A. Keener's Prior Convictions

         On November 15, 2016, SWI provided notice to JLI that it intended to introduce evidence at trial of Keener's 1988 “conviction for felony conspiracy to defraud the United States and two violations of misdemeanor willful failure to file federal income taxes for 1981 and 1982, ” pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 609. See Ex. 1 to JLI Motion (docket no. 54-1); see also SWI Proposed Ex. T (docket no. 58-3) (court records of convictions). Consistent with this notice, SWI listed “Record of Jody Keener Conviction” on the proposed exhibit list that it submitted to JLI. See Ex. 2 to JLI Motion (docket no. 54-2) at 3. JLI argues that evidence of Keener's convictions is inadmissible under Rule 609 because the convictions are over ten years old and lack probative value. See JLI Motion at 2-3.

         Rule 609 addresses the admissibility of a prior criminal conviction for purposes of “attacking a witness's character for truthfulness.” Fed.R.Evid. 609(a). Under Rule 609, where a witness's prior criminal conviction is over ten years old, “[e]vidence of the conviction is admissible only if: (1) its probative value, supported by specific facts and circumstances, substantially outweighs its prejudicial effect; and (2) the proponent gives an adverse party reasonable written notice of the intent to use it so that the party has a fair opportunity to contest its use.” Fed.R.Evid. 609(b). “Rule 609(b) effectively establishes ‘a rebuttable presumption against the admissibility of prior convictions more than ten years old.'” United States v. Stoltz, 683 F.3d 934, 939-40 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting United States v. Felix, 867 F.2d 1068, 1073 (8th Cir. 1989)); see also United States v. Hayes, 87 Fed. App'x 603, 604 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Keene, 915 F.2d 1164, 1169 (8th Cir. 1990). In view of Rule 609(b)'s restrictions, “convictions over 10 ...


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