United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION IN LIMINE (DOC. NO.
M. Spector United States Magistrate Judge.
defendants, Lt. Champion, Correctional Officer Terranova,
Correctional Officer Plante, and Correctional Officer
Bragdon, have moved in limine to preclude the
plaintiff from introducing the following evidence: (1)
evidence related to Lt. Champion's and Officer
Bragdon's “interaction and chain of command”
during the escort of the plaintiff at issue in this action,
and the subsequent Department of Correction
[“DOC”] investigation into Officer Bragdon's
conduct; (2) evidence that a non-party told the plaintiff
“essentially that this incident should never have
happened”; and (3) evidence related to whether any of
the defendants have been sued previously. (Doc. No. 47 at 1).
The defendants seek to preclude admission of these categories
on the grounds that they are either irrelevant under [Fed. R.
Evid.] 402, constitute unfair prejudice, [Fed. R. Evid.] 403,
are inadmissible evidence of a defendant's professed bad
character, [Fed. R. Evid.] 404(b), are replete with hearsay,
[Fed. R. Evid.] 802, [or] involve a lack of personal
knowledge, [Fed. R. Evid.] 602 . . . .
(Doc. No. 47 at 1-2). The plaintiff responds that he
“opposes only the first request[,
]” because the evidence “is relevant to
establish [the] [d]efendants' subjective perspective at
the time in question and is probative of whether the amount
of force used was appropriate in light of the need for force,
if any.” (Doc. No. 51 at 1, 3).
reasons detailed below, the defendants' Motion in
Limine (Doc. No. 47) is DENIED without prejudice to
plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that the defendants used excessive and
unjustified force against him on November 18, 2014 at the
Corrigan Correctional Institution, where he was housed as an
inmate, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United
States Constitution. (Doc. No. 1). The plaintiff alleges that
he suffered physical injuries, emotional distress including
fear, humiliation, embarrassment, stress, anxiety, and
depression, and pain and suffering. (Id.).
defendants contend that “evidence concerning the
interaction and chain of command between Officer Bragdon and
Lieutenant Champion” is “wholly irrelevant to the
question of whether any defendant used excessive
force.” (Doc. No. 47 at 1). The plaintiff
“strongly opposes” exclusion of this evidence, as
the interaction between Lt. Champion and Officer Bragdon
“adds context and detail to the escort, [which is]
relevant to [the] [p]laintiff's claim, ” and
“excluding this relevant evidence would prevent [the]
[p]laintiff from bringing key facts to the attention of the
jury.” (Doc. No. 51 at 1, 3). The Court agrees with the
motion in limine to preclude evidence calls on the
[C]ourt to make a preliminary determination on the
admissibility of evidence under Rule 104 of the Federal Rules
of Evidence.” Highland Capital Mgmt., L.P. v.
Schneider, 379 F.Supp.2d 461 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (internal
quotation marks omitted). “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.” Dougherty v. County
of Suffolk, No. CV 13-6493 (AKT), 2018 WL 1902336, at *1
(E.D.N.Y. Apr. 20, 2018) (internal quotation marks omitted);
Highland Capital Mgmt., 379 F.Supp.2d at 467.
“[O]nly when the evidence is clearly inadmissible on
all potential grounds should such evidence be excluded on a
motion in limine.” Dougherty, 2018 WL
1902336, at *1 (internal quotation marks omitted). “A
district court's in limine ruling ‘is
subject to change when the case unfolds, particularly if the
actual testimony differs from what was contained in the . . .
proffer.'” Highland Capital Mgmt., 379
F.Supp.2d at 467 (citing Luce v. United States, 469
U.S. 38, 41, 105 S.Ct. 460, 83 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984)); see
Dougherty, 2018 WL 1902336, at *1.
well-established that “[e]vidence is relevant if: (a)
it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than
it would without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of
consequence in determining the action.” Fed.R.Evid.
401. “Relevant evidence is admissible unless any of the
following provide otherwise: the United States Constitution;
a federal statute; these rules; or other rules prescribed by
the Supreme Court.” Fed.R.Evid. 402. “Irrelevant
evidence is not admissible.” Id.
the defendants do not explain what they seek to preclude
specifically when they argue that the Court should preclude
the admission of “evidence concerning the interaction
and chain of command between Officer Bragdon and Lieutenant
Champion.” (Doc. No. 47 at 1). The plaintiff, however,
sheds some light on what exactly this evidence includes. In
his opposition, the plaintiff explains that this evidence
includes “evidence that [Lieutenant] Champion directed
[Officer] Bragdon to ‘slow the pace' of the escort;
that [Lieutenant Champion] directed that a wheelchair be
offered to Mr. Brodeur . . .; and that [Officer] Bragdon
refused the wheelchair (stating ‘he will
walk!')[.]” (Doc. No. 51 at 2). At the Final
Pretrial Conference, the plaintiff reiterated that the
evidence at issue related to statements made between Lt.
Champion and Officer Bragdon during the transport that is at
the heart of the plaintiff's claims in this case.
Court agrees with the plaintiff that evidence of this
interaction has at least some probative value as to whether
Officer Bragdon subjected the plaintiff to an unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain. Moreover, it is difficult to
understand at this juncture what possible unfair prejudice
could result from the admission of this evidence.
Accordingly, the Court denies the defendant's Motion to
preclude admission of evidence of statements made between
Officer Bragdon and Lt. Champion during the plaintiff's
transport from his cell. This Ruling is without prejudice
should the defendants ...