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Gioioso v. Thoroughgood's Transport, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 24, 2018

JUDY GIOIOSO, Plaintiff,
v.
THOROUGHGOOD'S TRANSPORT, LLC and MICHAEL D. BAILEY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          A. DAVID COPPERTHITE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         There are currently three pending motions before the Court. First, Defendants Thoroughgood's Transport, LLC and Michael D. Bailey (collectively, "Defendants") filed a Motion in Limine ("Defendants' First Motion in Limine") (ECF No. 63), seeking to preclude Dr. Steven C. Ludwig, a spinal surgeon that operated on Plaintiff Judy Gioioso, from serving as an expert witness at trial. ECF No. 63 at 1. Defendants filed a second Motion in Limine ("Defendants' Second Motion in Limine") (ECF No. 64), seeking to preclude Plaintiff from offering photographs of her vehicle taken after the accident and from referring to the vehicle as "totaled" during trial. ECF No. 64 at 1. Defendants filed a third Motion for Separate Trial (ECF No. 65), requesting that the Court bifurcate the trial for Count 111 (Negligent Entrustment against Thoroughgood's Transport, LLC) from the trial for Count I (Negligence against Mr. Bailey) and Count II (Respondeat Superior against Thoroughgood's Transport, LLC) on the basis that one trial on all counts would prejudice Defendants. ECF No. 65 at 1-2. After considering each of the motions and the responses thereto, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See Loc.R. 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons set forth herein, the Court will RESERVE ruling on Defendants" First Motion in Limine (ECF No. 63) until trial, DENY Defendants* Second Motion in Limine (ECF No. 64), and DENY Defendants' Motion for Separate Trial (ECF No. 65).

         Factual Background

         This lawsuit arises out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on July 21, 2014 near the intersection of Route 50 and Golf Course Road in Worchester County, Maryland. ECF No. 1 at 2. In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Bailey, as an employee of Defendant Thoroughgood"s Transport, LLC, negligently drove his motor vehicle into the rear of her car, which was lawfully stopped at the intersection. Id. As a result. Plaintiff alleges that she sustained physical injuries that required her to undergo three surgeries and incurred substantial medical expenses. Id. at 3; see ECF No. 63-1.

         Procedural Background

         On November 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court against Defendants alleging negligence against Mr. Bailey, as well as vicarious liability and negligent entrustment against Thoroughgood's Transport, LLC. ECF No. 1. On December 7, 2016, the Defendants filed separate answers to the Complaint, each denying liability. [1] ECF Nos. 5, 6.

         On October 1, 2018, Defendants filed the three pending motions. First, Defendants filed Defendants' First Motion in Limine to preclude Dr. Steven C. Ludwig from serving as an expert witness for Plaintiff at trial. ECF No. 63. Next, Defendants filed Defendants" Second Motion in Limine to preclude Plaintiff from offering photographs of the condition of her vehicle after the accident and from referring to the vehicle as "totaled" during the trial. ECF No. 64. Lastly, Defendants filed the Motion for Separate Trial, seeking bifurcation of Count III for Negligent Entrustment from Counts I and II, for Negligence and Respondeat Superior. ECF No. 65. Plaintiff opposed each of these motions on October 18, 2018. [2] ECF Nos. 71, 72, 73. Defendants filed a reply regarding the Motion for Separate Trial on October 23, 2018. ECF No. 78.

         These matters are now fully briefed and the Court has reviewed Defendants* Motions, as well as the responses thereto. For the foregoing reasons, ruling on Defendants' First Motion in Limine (ECF No. 63) will be reserved until trial. Defendants' Second Motion in Limine (ECF No. 64) is DENIED. Defendants' Motion for Separate Trial (ECF No. 65) is DENIED.

         Discission

         A. Defendants' Motions in Limine

         1. Standard of Review

         "A motion in limine seeks 'to exclude anticipated prejudicial evidence before the evidence is actually offered."' Changzhou Kaidi Elec. Co., Ltd. v. Okin Am., Inc., 102 F.Supp.3d 740, 745 (D.Md. 2015) (quoting Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984)). "Such motions are 'designed to narrow the evidentiary issues for trial and to eliminate unnecessary trial interruptions.'" Id. (quoting Louzon v. Ford Motor Co., 718 F.3d 556, 561 (6th Cir. 2013)). "A motion in limine to exclude evidence . . . should be granted only when the evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds." Emami v. Bolden, 241 F.Supp.3d 673, 681 (E.D.Va. 2017) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). "A ruling on a motion in limine is no more than a preliminary or advisory opinion that falls entirely within the discretion of the [trial] court." Adams v. NVR Homes, Inc., 141 F.Supp.2d 554, 558 (D.Md. 2001) (citing United Stales v. Yannott, 42 F.3d 999, 1007 (6th Cir. 1994)).

         2. Defendants' First Motion in Limine

         On October 1, 2018, Defendants filed the First Motion in Limine, seeking to preclude Dr. Steven C. Ludwig, a spinal surgeon that operated on Plaintiff in April 2018, from testifying as an expert at trial regarding the causal relationship between the surgeries and the motor vehicle accident. ECF No. 63-2 at 1. Defendants contend that Plaintiff failed to name Dr. Ludwig as a treating physician or an expert in her mandatory disclosures made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2) and, therefore, should be precluded from calling Dr. Ludwig at trial. Id. at 2-3. In her response. Plaintiff states that "Dr. Ludwig in all likelihood will not be called as a witness" because he "refuses to take a position that could result in his ...


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