United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION IN LIMINE (ECF NO. 45)
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
action arises from an interaction on October 21, 2012,
between the Plaintiff, Dahari Martin, and two Hartford Police
Officers, Bryan Nelson and J. Pethigal. Plaintiff sues the
Officers and the City of Hartford. The Plaintiff brings,
among other claims, two claims against the City of Hartford
under Connecticut General Statutes § 52-557n and §
7-465. The Court assumes familiarity with the underlying
facts of the dispute. Trial is scheduled for May 10, 2017.
Defendant City of Hartford (the “City”) seeks to
preclude the Plaintiff from (1) making any reference to his
statutory claims against the City under Connecticut General
Statutes § 52-557n and §7-465, and (2) referring to
the City as a defendant during the trial. (ECF No. 45.) For
the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.
Reference to Statutory Claims
City argues that the claims under Connecticut General
Statutes § 52-557n and § 7-465 are more
appropriately resolved by the Court, because its liability
under those statutes is a question of law. The City also
argues that the probative value of referring to these claims
is substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice
City is incorrect about the nature of the statutes, and
refers to them both as indemnification statutes. (ECF No. 45
at 2.) C.G.S. § 52-557n allows plaintiffs to bring
direct actions against municipalities for negligence, and is
not an indemnification statute. See Spears v.
Garcia, 263 Conn. 22, 28, 818 A.2d 37, 42 (2003). Only
C.G.S. § 7-465 provides an indemnification
claim. Holeman v. City of New London,
330 F.Supp.2d 99, 121 (D. Conn. 2004), rev'd in part,
appeal dismissed in part, 425 F.3d 184 (2d Cir. 2005)
(quoting Elinsky v. Marlene, No. CV960557659, 1997
WL 729102, *8 (Conn. Super. Nov. 14, 1997)) (“Under
Connecticut law, ‘Section 7-465 is an indemnity
stage, it is not clear that liability under these statutes is
solely a question of law for the Court. Connecticut courts
have found that claims under § 52-557n and § 7-465
should be decided by a jury in some cases. Haynes v. City
of Middletown, 314 Conn. 303, 331, 101 A.3d 249, 266
(2014) (remanding the case so that “the fact finder may
make a finding on the defendant's special defense of
governmental immunity and the imminent harm to identifiable
persons exception to that defense.”); Sestito v.
City of Groton, 178 Conn. 520, 527-28, 423 A.2d 165,
170-71 (1979) (finding that a count under C.G.S. § 7-465
should have been submitted to the jury where there was a
controversy over the facts of the case). At this stage, no
facts have been presented, and the Court cannot determine
that the City's liability is a question of law.
Furthermore, to the extent that the City argues that it is
not liable under either statute, “[a]motion in
limine is not the proper vehicle for seeking a
dispositive ruling on a claim.” Williams v.
Rushmore Loan Mgmt. Servs. LLC, 2017 WL 822793, at *1
(D. Conn. Mar. 2, 2017) (internal citations omitted). In any
event, while some of the Plaintiff's claims may fall
within exceptions in these statutes for intentional conduct,
the Plaintiff has also alleged negligence claims, which, if
proven, could provide a basis for liability against the City
under these statutes. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d)
(allowing pleading in the alternative and allowing pleading
of “separate claims . . ., regardless of
the claims against the City survive any motion for judgment
as a matter of law, the Court will instruct the jury on the
law related to liability against the City. See Huaman v.
Tinsley, et al., 3:13-cv-484-MPS, Jury Instructions, ECF
No. 139. The Court notes that under C.G.S. § 7-465,
“the municipality's duty to indemnify attaches only
when the employee is found to be liable and the
employee's actions do not fall within the exception for
willful and wanton acts, ” and the jury will be
instructed in accordance with this principle. Odom v.
Matteo, 772 F.Supp.2d 377, 407 (D. Conn. 2011)
(quoting Myers v. City of Hartford, 84 Conn.App.
395, 400, 853 A.2d 621 (2004)).
these claims will go to the jury, the Plaintiff may refer to
them at trial. The Plaintiff may not use the indemnity claim
against the City “to prove whether [any] person acted
negligently or otherwise wrongfully.” See Fed.
R. Evid. 411. The Plaintiff has stated that he does not
intend to make such an offer. (ECF No. 46 at 3.) The Court
will rule in the context of the trial on specific objections
that raise a risk of violating the principle embodied in Rule
411 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. For example, it may be
necessary for the Court to bar the Plaintiff from referring
to the claim under C.G.S. § 7-465 as “an
indemnification claim.” The Court will discuss this and
other evidentiary issues with the parties at the pretrial
Reference to the City as a Defendant
City is a party in this action, and as such, the Plaintiff
may refer to the City as a party at trial.
reasons discussed above, the City's Motion in Limine ...