United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motions in
limine. Dkt. # 25. For the reasons stated above, the
Court DENIES Plaintiff's motions.
matter is set for trial on July 1, 2019. The details of
Plaintiff's allegations are set forth in the Order on the
parties' motions for summary judgment and will not be
repeated here. See Dkt. # 24.
may file motions in limine before or during trial
“to exclude anticipated prejudicial evidence before the
evidence is actually offered.” Luce v. United
States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n. 2 (1984). To decide on the
motions in limine, the Court is generally guided by
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 401 and 403. Specifically,
the Court considers whether evidence “has any tendency
to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without
the evidence, ” and whether “the fact is of
consequence in determining the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
401. However, the Court may exclude relevant evidence if
“its probative value is substantially outweighed by a
danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice,
confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay,
wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative
evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 403.
Court notes that the findings and conclusions in this order,
like all rulings in limine, are preliminary and can
be revisited at trial based on the facts and evidence as they
are actually presented. See, e.g., Luce v.
United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 (1984) (explaining that a
ruling in limine “is subject to change when
the case unfolds, particularly if the actual testimony
differs from what was contained in the proffer. Indeed even
if nothing unexpected happens at trial, the district judge is
free, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, to alter
a previous in limine ruling.”). Subject to these
principles, the Court issues these rulings for the guidance
of the parties.
Plaintiff's Motion in Limine No. 1
Plaintiff moves to exclude evidence that a party other than
the United States was at fault for the collision. Dkt. # 25
at 3. Plaintiff's motion, however, focuses primarily on
excluding evidence regarding the cause of Plaintiff's
injuries. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that any evidence
that her treating doctor performed an imprudent or improper
surgery should be excluded. Id. at 3. Plaintiff
notes, citing various treatises and Washington case law, that
it has uniformly been held that the original tortfeastor is
liable for aggravation of the original injury cause by
negligent treatment. Id. at 3-4. Defendant United
States (the government) argues that Plaintiff has the burden
of proving that the United States' actions are the
proximate cause of her claimed injuries and that it should
not be precluded from presenting evidence on this disputed
issue. Dkt. # 28 at 4-5.
Court agrees. The summary judgment order established that the
United States breached the requisite duty of care as a matter
of law. See Dkt. # 24. However, a plaintiff must
still prove that the defendant's negligence was the
proximate cause of her claimed injuries. See, e.g.,
Torno v. Hayek, 135 P.3d 536 (Wash. App. 2006)
(permitting evidence on causation and damages during trial
following admitted liability car accident). To the extent
Plaintiff seeks to preclude such evidence, the motion is
Plaintiff's Motion in Limine No. 2
Plaintiff moves to exclude Defendant's experts, Wilson C.
“Toby” Hayes, Ph.D. and Erik D. Power, P.E., from
offering medical inferences on Plaintiff's injuries. Dkt.
# 25 at 5. Plaintiff cites several Washington state cases for
the proposition that the relationship between an accident to
resulting physical condition must be established by medical
testimony. Id. Moreover, Plaintiff argues that
opinions regarding what injuries an “average
occupant” would sustain are irrelevant. Id.
Defendant argues that Power performed a collision
reconstruction using widely accepted methods based upon the
fundamental laws of physics for which he is qualified to
opine. Dkt. # 28 at 5-6. As for Hayes, Defendant claims that
his extensive background satisfies the Daubert
standard for testimony regarding medical causation and that,
under federal law, the fact that he is not a medical doctor,
at best, goes to the weight and not the admissibility of his
testimony. Id. at 8-9.
expert opinion is reliable under the Daubert test
for determining admissibility of expert testimony if the
knowledge underlying it has a reliable basis in the knowledge
and experience of the relevant discipline. Fed.R.Evid. 702.
In this case, Power is an Engineering Associate at
Hayesˋ⡲⚭, a Registered Professional Mechanical
Engineer, and Fully Accredited Traffic Accident
Reconstructionist. Dkt. # 29-1. He has a B.S. in Mechanical
Engineering and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (with a
Biomedical Option), both from Virginia Tech. Id.
Hayes has more than 50 years of teaching, research and
consulting experience in fields ranging across mechanical
engineering, experimental mechanics, accident reconstruction,
occupant dynamics, injury biomechanics, human functional
anatomy, and clinical orthopaedics. Dkt. # 30, ¶ 4.
Furthermore, as Vice Chairman for Research in the Department
of Orthopaedic Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical
Center, Hayes attended x-ray rounds, often on a daily basis,
offering advice to residents and house staff on the
mechanisms and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. Dkt. #
26-5. The injury assessment performed by Power and Hayes
consists of a three-step approach that appears in