United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division
NANCY ALICE JONES, Individually and as the personal representative of the Estate of David Allen Jones and SCOTT ALBERT JONES, Plaintiffs,
FRANCIS JOHN NABER, Defendant.
ORDER IN LIMINE
A. ROBERTS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the parties' motions in
limine. (Docs. 21, 22.) Each party timely resisted the
other's motion. (Docs. 23, 24.) Plaintiffs filed a reply.
(Doc. 25.) “A district court has wide discretion in
admitting and excluding evidence.” Bennett v.
Hidden Valley Golf & Ski, Inc., 318 F.3d 868, 878
(8th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). For the following
reasons, Plaintiffs' motion in in limine (Doc. 21) is
granted in part and denied in
part. Defendant's motion in in limine (Doc. 22)
case involves a motor vehicle accident in rural Dubuque
County. Plaintiffs' decedent, David Jones, was driving a
motorcycle when he collided with a manure spreader being
towed by Defendant Francis Naber on his tractor.
Plaintiffs' Complaint (Doc. 1) alleges Defendant was at
fault in a number of particulars resulting in damages to
Plaintiffs. Defendant denies the allegations that attribute
fault to him and raises the affirmative defense of
comparative fault. (Doc. 6.)
The testimony of defense experts
seek to prohibit Defendant's experts from testifying
beyond those opinions, facts, and data disclosed in their
January 2019 report. Plaintiffs are concerned these experts
may offer undisclosed opinions regarding Mr. Jones's
speed or regarding whether he was improperly passing at the
time of the collision. Defendant counters that his experts
calculated the minimum and maximum speeds Mr. Jones could
have been traveling. (Doc. 24 at 1.) This does not appear to
be quite accurate. Plaintiffs point out that Defendant's
experts have not calculated Mr. Jones's maximum speed.
(Doc. 25.) It appears that the experts calculated only Mr.
Jones minimum speed to be within a range of 44.4 to 53.0 mph.
(Doc. 21-1 at 8.) The experts admit the actual speed is
impossible to calculate. The fact that the experts have
identified a range (which itself has a “minimum”
and “maximum”) creates some possibility of
confusion, but that confusion can be avoided with caution.
argues the experts opined that Mr. Jones would have had
sufficient time to recognize a slow-moving vehicle and slow
down to avoid the collision. Based on the experts' report
(Doc. 21-1) and Defendant's response, it does not appear
Defendant intends to offer expert opinions either regarding
Mr. Jones's actual speed or that he was traveling too
fast for conditions. Nor does it appear Defendant intends to
offer opinions from his experts that Mr. Jones was attempting
to illegally pass him. Defendant concedes expert witnesses
cannot testify regarding whether any person was violating the
law. Defendant is correct that his experts are not prohibited
from discussing their observations and measurements,
including the location of no passing zones and the positions
of the vehicles relative thereto. To the extent
Plaintiffs' motion seeks to prevent experts from
testifying beyond their disclosed opinions, the motion is
granted. Both parties shall caution their
respective experts to limit their testimony to opinions
Mr. Jones's firearm
seek to exclude evidence that shows Mr. Jones had a firearm
in his possession at the time of the collision because it is
irrelevant, prejudicial, and likely to confuse the jury and
thus inadmissible pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 401,
402, and 403. Defendant does not resist this motion.
Plaintiffs' motion in limine to exclude reference to or
evidence of Mr. Jones's possession of a firearm is
Evidence of settlement negotiations, offers, or
does not resist Plaintiffs' motion to exclude evidence of
settlement negotiations, offers, or demands pursuant to
Federal Rule of Evidence 408. Plaintiffs' motion
regarding this topic is therefore granted.
Mr. Jones's health condition and life
records show Mr. Jones had a history of heart disease,
smoking, and consumption of alcohol. Plaintiffs argue that
without expert testimony to tie this evidence to a decrease
in Mr. Jones's life expectancy, the evidence is
inadmissible because it would invite the jury to speculate.
Plaintiffs' cite authorities from Washington and Illinois
for the proposition that evidence of Mr. Jones's health,
smoking, and alcohol consumption ...