United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division
R. READER JUDGE.
matter before the court is Defendant Rachel Joy Lentz's
Motion in Limine (“Motion”) (docket no. 74).
RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY
September 22, 2017, the court set a hearing pursuant to the
Hague Convention in this case for November 7, 2017.
See September 22, 2017 Order (docket no. 62) at 1.
The date of the hearing was later changed to October 18,
2017. See September 28, 2017 Order (docket no. 64)
at 1. In the September 22, 2017 Order, the court imposed a
deadline of October 10, 2017 for the filing of any motions in
limine. See September 22, 2017 Order at 1. On
October 10, 2017, Lentz filed the Motion.
the time to file a resistance to the Motion has not expired,
and Leonard has not filed a resistance, the court finds it
appropriate to consider the Motion at this time. See
LR 7(e) (“[I]f circumstances . . . warrant, the court
may elect to rule on a motion without waiting for a
resistance or response.”). In this case, the expedited
nature of these proceedings, the truncation of the time
period between the date on which the Motion was due and the
hearing, the relaxed application of the Federal Rules of
Evidence and the court's role in determining the facts,
rather than a jury, all suggest that no prejudice will result
from the court ruling on the Motion without awaiting a
resistance. See Danaipour v. McLarey, 386
F.3d 289, 296 (1st Cir. 2004) (suggesting that, in summary
proceedings under the Hague Convention, strict application of
the Federal Rules of Evidence is not required); see also
Demaj v. Sakaj, No. 3:09 CV 255 (JGM), 2012 WL 965214,
at *3 (D. Conn. March 21, 2012) (“[T]he Federal Rules
of Evidence do apply in Hague Convention and ICARA actions,
albeit in a more ‘relaxed' fashion . . . .”
(citations omitted)). Additionally, the court is well-versed
in the application of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The
court elects to rule on the Motion without waiting for a
resistance. Therefore, the Motion is ready for decision.
Motion, Lentz argues that the court should prohibit Leonard
from introducing evidence or testimony regarding the
(1) E.M.L.'s health or her pending kidney transplant;
(2) Leonard's ability to properly care for E.M.L.,
despite the child's medical issues;
(3) The differing levels of care available in Turkish
hospitals versus hospitals in the United States; and
(4) Any factor countering the so-called “grave risk
defense” advanced by Lentz. Brief in Support of the
Motion (docket no. 74-1) at 2-6. Lentz's basis for
excluding these categories of evidence is Leonard's
alleged “refusal to cooperate in the most basic of
discovery.” Id. at 1. Lentz contends that she
propounded interrogatories upon Leonard but Leonard
“refused to provide any substantive response” to
a majority of them. Id. Lentz argues that she has
been prejudiced by Leonard's refusal to participate in
the discovery process because his refusal has
“precluded [Lentz] from learning about [Leonard's]
basic knowledge and contentions” regarding the case.
Id. at 2.
particular, Lentz argues that Leonard's answers to four
of her interrogatories should preclude him from introducing
evidence or testimony regarding the above categories. In her
First Continuing Interrogatories, Lentz requested, among
other things, that Leonard: “Identify each fact that
supports your contention that the[re] would not be a grave
risk in returning the minor children to Turkey;”
“Identify each time you have taken any of the children
to any medical appointments, the physician seen and the
treatment rendered;” “Explain your opposition to
your daughter, E.M.L., receiving treatment in the United
States;” and state whether he “agree[d] that your
daughter, E.M.L., needs a kidney transplant? If not,
why?” Exhibit 1 to the Motion (docket no. 74-2) at 6-7.
In response, Leonard generally stated that the
interrogatories were improper, exceeded the scope of
discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 and
were not calculated to lead to discoverable evidence.
See Exhibit 2 to the Motion (docket no. 74-3) at
4-7. Leonard also states the Lentz has relevant information
in her possession with respect to the first two
interrogatories listed above, and further contends that the
third interrogatory above is argumentative and misrepresents
the facts of the dispute. Id.
court finds that exclusion of all testimony and evidence of
the four categories included in the Motion is not warranted.
To begin, the court views a motion in limine as an
inappropriate vehicle to air Lentz's discovery woes.
Though the court is mindful that discovery has been a
shortened affair in this dispute, the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure explicitly provide a remedy for an opposing
party's obstructionist discovery tactics. Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 37 provides for discovery sanctions,
including the inability to present evidence on certain
issues, for violation of a court order compelling discovery
or violations of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(a) or
(e). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(A), (c)(1)(C). The
court further notes that the Motion fails to comply with the
court's September 22, 2017 Order, which states that
“[a]ny motions in limine must specifically reference
the rules the parties believe relate to the admissibility of
the evidence.” September 22, 2017 Order at 1. Nowhere
in the Motion does Lentz reference any Federal Rule of
Evidence or Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. Finally, the
court views the wholesale exclusion of any and all testimony
and evidence pertaining to Lentz's grave risk defense,
which she admits all of the evidence that the Motion seeks to
exclude embraces, as unduly prejudicial to Leonard. ...