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Miller v. National Property Management Corp.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 16, 2017

JENNIFER MILLER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
NATIONAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT CORPORATION and SCHOOLER ENTERPRISES, L.P., d/b/a SCOTCHVIEW MANOR APARTMENTS, Defendants-Appellees.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Randy V. Hefner, Judge.

         Jennifer Miller appeals the district court's denial of relief from a violation of a motion in limine. AFFIRMED.

          S.P. DeVolder of The DeVolder Law Firm, Norwalk, for appellant.

          J. Campbell Helton of Helton Law Firm P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for appellees.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Appellant Jennifer Miller appeals the district court's denial of relief from a violation of a motion in limine regarding Miller's prior drug use. We find error was not preserved and affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Jennifer Miller was a tenant at Scotchview Manor Apartments, owned by Schooler Enterprises, L.P. (Schooler), and managed by National Property Management Corporation (National). Miller sued Schooler and National for breach of duty to maintain habitable premises and other negligence based claims. On March 7, 2016, the district court granted a motion in limine regarding "evidence of prior criminal history."[1] When granting the motion the court said, "I think, as a preliminary matter, until I hear what these experts have to say, I'm going to grant the motion to not refer to marijuana use during opening or voir dire." The court further explained, "Before we taint this jury panel, I want to know what these experts are going to say about the unique hazard associated with marijuana use to your lungs."

         The trial was held May 3-6, 2016. During the trial, Schooler and National cross-examined Miller's physician on the effect drugs can have on the body:

Q: Smoking meth would introduce toxins into the body, wouldn't it?
A: That's right.
Q: Smoking marijuana would cause toxins into the body, ...

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