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Anderson v. Scanlon

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 8, 2017




         Travis Anderson (“Plaintiff”) has filed two motions in limine [ECF Nos. 73, 74] seeking to preclude the introduction of certain categories of evidence during the upcoming jury trial in this case. Ryan Cubells (“Defendant”) has also filed six separate motions in limine seeking to preclude various types of evidence from introduction at trial.

         For the reasons outlined below, Mr. Anderson's [73] Motion in Limine is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART; Mr. Anderson's [74] Motion in Limine is DENIED without prejudice; Mr. Cubells's [79] Motion in Limine is GRANTED; Mr. Cubells's [84] Motion in Limine is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART; and Mr. Cubells's [80], [81], [82] and [83] Motions in Limine are GRANTED. The Court's ruling, however, is “subject to change when the case unfolds, particularly if the actual testimony differs from what was [expected].” Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 (1984).


         Mr. Anderson originally brought this case against Martin Scanlon, Ryan Cubells and Lee Gilbert (together “Defendants”), alleging claims of excessive force, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unreasonable search and seizure under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl., ECF No. 1. He also brought a Monell claim against the City of Waterbury. Id. These claims arose from two separate encounters with Ryan Cubells, a Police Officer with the City of Waterbury, and two of his co-workers, Martin Scanlon and Lee Gilbert, on November 3, 2013 and December 23, 2013. Compl., ECF No. 1. During both of these encounters, Defendants pulled over, arrested, and searched Mr. Anderson, and Mr. Anderson claims that Mr. Cubells used excessive force during those arrests. Id.

         At the summary judgment stage, the Court dismissed Mr. Anderson's claims against the City of Waterbury and Mr. Anderson conceded his unreasonable search and seizure claims, leaving only Mr. Anderson's claims of excessive force and intentional infliction of emotional distress. See Ruling on Mot. for Summary J., ECF No. 69. Remaining for the jury are Mr. Anderson's claim that Mr. Cubells used excessive force against him during those two arrests, and that Officers Scanlon and Gilbert were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Cubells's use of excessive force, as well as his claim that Mr. Cubells is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on his actions during these arrests. Jury selection was held on September 5, 2017, and jury trial is scheduled to begin on September 18, 2017. See Minute Entry, ECF No. 98.

         In advance of the upcoming jury trial, Mr. Anderson seeks to preclude the introduction of evidence related to one criminal conviction from 2008 and three criminal convictions from 2014, as well as evidence or testimony related to the various items found through the search of Mr. Anderson's vehicle on November 3, 2013. Pl. Mots. in Limine, ECF Nos. 73 and 74. Mr. Cubells seeks to preclude the admission into evidence of the following: (1) transcript excerpts from recordings of Mr. Cubells taken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); (2) evidence or testimony relating to the underlying legality of the traffic stops of Mr. Anderson in November and December of 2013; (3) evidence regarding Mr. Cubells's eventual termination from the Waterbury Police Department; (4) evidence related to other civilian complaints filed against Mr. Cubells; and (5) evidence related to Mr. Cubells's psychiatric treatment following the events at issue in this case. Def. Mots. in Limine, ECF Nos. 79, 80, 81, 82, 83 and 84.


         The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the trial court to rule in advance of trial on the admissibility and relevance of certain forecasted evidence. See Luce, 469 U.S. at 40 n.2; Palmieri v. Defaria, 88 F.3d 136, 141 (2d Cir. 1996). “A district court's inherent authority to manage the course of its trials encompasses the right to rule on motions in limine.” Highland Capital Mgmt., L.P. v. Schneider, 551 F.Supp.2d 173, 176 (S.D.N.Y. 2008).

         Evidence should be excluded on a motion in limine only when the evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds. Levinson v. Westport Nat'l Bank, No. 3:09-CV-1955 VLB, 2013 WL 3280013, at *3 (D. Conn. June 27, 2013). Courts considering a motion in limine may reserve judgment until trial, so that the motion is placed in the appropriate factual context. See Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. L.E. Myers Co. Grp., 937 F.Supp. 276, 287 (S.D.N.Y. 1996).


         A. Plaintiff's Motions in Limine Re: Mr. Anderson's Criminal Convictions [ECF No. 73] and the Fruits of the November 2013 Vehicle Search [ECF No. 74]

         Mr. Anderson seeks to preclude references to four criminal convictions: (1) a 2008 conviction for assault in the first degree; (2) a 2014 conviction for carrying a pistol without a permit; (3) a 2014 conviction for possession of narcotics with intent to sell; and (4) a 2014 conviction for violation of probation. Pl. Mot. in Limine, ECF No. 73. With the exception of the 2008 conviction, these convictions arose out of Mr. Anderson's November 2013 arrest, one of the two encounters with Mr. Cubells that form the basis of this lawsuit. Pl. Mem. in Supp, ECF No. 73-1. In addition to these convictions, Mr. Anderson seeks to preclude any testimony or evidence related to the specific items found during the search of his vehicle in November 2013 - namely, a firearm, some marijuana, and a white crystal substance - as well as evidence related to the criminal charges brought against him following that search. Pl. Mem. in Supp., ECF No. 74-1.

         Mr. Anderson argues that this evidence is irrelevant, as the crimes at issue do not relate to Mr. Anderson's truthfulness and the 2008 assault conviction is particularly remote in time. Id. Mr. Cubells argues that these convictions and charges, as well as the items revealed in the vehicle search, are relevant for impeachment purposes and to ...

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