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Jelinek v. American National Property and Casualty Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

October 23, 2019

RUTH JELINEK, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN NATIONAL PROPERTY AND CASUALTY COMPANY, DBA ANPAC Insurance Company, a foreign corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE PARTIES' MOTIONS IN LIMINE

          The Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the parties' motions in limine. Dkt. ## 137, 138, 139. For the reasons below, the Court GRANTS in part, DENIES in part, and TAKES UNDER ADVISEMENT the parties' motions.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Ruth Jelinek is the policyholder of an automobile insurance agreement with Defendant American National Property and Casualty Co. (“ANPAC”). Her insurance policy includes $10, 000 in medical payments (“MedPay”) coverage and $100, 000 in underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage. Dkt. # 1-1 at 11. On October 31, 2012, Jelinek was involved in a car accident caused by another motorist. She reached a settlement with the at-fault motorist for $100, 000. She also filed a claim for MedPay and UIM coverage with ANPAC. ANPAC paid the $10, 000 limit of her MedPay coverage, but declined to pay the limit of her UIM coverage. Jelinek later filed this action, alleging ANPAC committed tort violations and breach of contract by mishandling her claim for UIM coverage. Her claims for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing and for violations of the Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”) and the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) (hereinafter, the “extracontractual claims”) were dismissed on summary judgment. Dkt. # 66.

         After trial on the breach of contract claim, Jelinek appealed from the Court's order granting summary judgment in favor of ANPAC on her extracontractual claims. Dkt. # 122. On October 5, 2018, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Court's grant of summary judgment on Jelinek's extracontractual claims, finding that a jury reasonably could draw inferences in favor of either party based on the evidence presented. Dkt. # 128. On December 6, 2018, the Court set the trial on Jelinek's extracontractual claims for November 4, 2019. On October 7, 2019, the parties submitted motions in limine which are now before the Court. Dkt. ## 137, 138, 139.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Parties 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.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         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.

         A. AMPAC's Motions in Limine

         i. Mutually Agreed Motions in Limine

         The Court accepts the parties' resolution of the following disputed issues for trial and GRANTS the following motions in limine:

         1. The parties agree not to refer to the “golden rule” or similar themes, whether directly or indirectly. This includes any argument that asks jurors to place themselves in the position of either party or to grant relief that they would feel entitled to if they were in the same position. (Motion in Limine No. 1.)

         2. The parties agree to inform opposing counsel of their expected witnesses for each day by close of business on the previous day. (Motion in Limine No. 2.) Plaintiff to advise the parties on the preceding Friday of the witnesses testifying on November 4.

         3. The parties agree not to introduce witnesses and/or evidence at trial not previously disclosed through discovery to date. (Motion in Limine No. 3.)

         4. The parties agree not to introduce expert testimony or opinion evidence not previously disclosed in the four corners of the expert's report. (Motion in Limine No. 4.)

         5. The parties agree not to reference any “probable” testimony in their opening statement of any witness who is absent, unavailable, or not called to testify at trial. (Motion in Limine No. 5.)

         6. The parties agree not to mention or disclose ANPAC's use of a jury consultant in connection with any aspect of trial, including the selection of the jury. (Motion in Limine No. 6.)

         7. The parties agree not to mention or disclose any evidence about discovery disputes, discovery negotiations, or allegations of misconduct involving discovery between the parties. (Motion in Limine No. 9.)

         8. The parties agree to preclude evidence or argument about ANPAC's post-litigation conduct, including settlement discussions. (Motion in Limine No. 21.)

         ii. Disputed Motions in Limine

         (1) Motion ...


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