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Leath v. Webb

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

September 17, 2018

DARRELL LEATH, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDALL WEBB, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge.

         This matter is set for trial beginning on October 30, 2018. Now before the Court is Defendants' combined Motion in Limine. [DE 39]. Defendant previously moved to exclude multiple items of evidence at trial, including: 1) mention of any insurance available to the Defendants; 2) evidence of Leath's acquittal on the assault charges; 3) evidence of Officer David Duncan's “write-ups” or disciplinary records; 4) evidence of Leath's complaints of psychological injury; and 5) evidence pertaining to taking Leath's preliminary vital signs. [See DE 39, p. 1');">p. 1].

         Defendants' Motion in Limine was filed prior to the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order [DE 63] granting in part and denying in part the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. The Memorandum Order and Opinion granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on all counts except for Leath's claims of excessive force (Count III), as well as assault (Count IV) and battery (Count V) under Kentucky common law, against Officer Webb for the alleged throat grab. As a result, Officer Webb is the only Defendant remaining in this action. The Plaintiff has responded to the Defendants' combined Motion in Limine [DE 43');">43] and Defendants replied [DE 46]. Having been fully briefed, and the Court being otherwise sufficiently advised, this motion is ripe for review.

         1) Motion to Exclude Evidence of Defendant's Liability Insurance

         Defendants moved to exclude any evidence, reference, or argument, direct or indirect, pertaining to the existence or availability of any liability insurance pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 411. By its terms, FRE 411 prohibits “[e]vidence that a person was or was not insured against liability . . . .” Fed.R.Evid. 411. Additionally, Leath agrees that “evidence of liability insurance is inadmissible pursuant to FRE 411 . . . .” [DE 43');">43, p. 1');">p. 1]. Accordingly, the motion to exclude any evidence, reference, or argument pertaining any liability insurance available to the Defendants is GRANTED.

         2) Motion to Exclude Evidence of Leath's Acquittal on Assault Counts

         Defendants moved to exclude any testimony, evidence, or reference to Leath's acquittal on three counts of Assault in the First Degree. Leath was initially charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication arising from the arrest at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center, where the alleged throat grab occurred. Leath was charged with Assault in the Third Degree arising from his subsequent interaction with officers at the Fayette County Detention Center and Good Samaritan Hospital. Leath was acquitted on all three counts of Assault in the Third Degree.

         The parties' arguments focus on whether evidence of Leath's acquittal is should be excluded based on the substantive counts of false arrest and malicious prosecution. But here, the Court has subsequently granted summary judgment for the Defendants on Leath's claims of false arrest and malicious prosecution. The Court withholds any opinion to the extent that this evidence is presented for another purpose in this matter. As such, the motion to exclude any testimony, evidence, or reference of Leath's acquittal on assault charges is DENIED AS MOOT.

         3) Motion to Exclude Evidence of Officer David Duncan's Write-Ups or Disciplinary Records

         Defendants moved to exclude any evidence relating to Officer David Duncan's write-ups and disciplinary record pertaining to his work as a police officer for the University of Kentucky Police Department. All Leath's claims against Officer David Duncan were resolved by the Court's Memorandum Order and Opinion [DE 63]. The parties' arguments in the Motion in Limine and Response focus on whether this evidence should be excluded based on the substantive claims against Duncan that have since been dismissed.

         Still, Duncan is included on both parties' witness lists as a potential witness at trial. [See DE 71; DE 78]. The Court withholds any opinion to the extent that this evidence is presented for another purpose in this matter. Thus, at this juncture, the motion to exclude any evidence of Duncan's write-ups or disciplinary records is DENIED AS MOOT.

         4) Motion to Exclude testimony, evidence, or reference to Leath's a potential psychological injury

         Defendants moved to exclude any testimony, evidence, or reference to Leath's reported mental health. At his deposition, Leath testified that he had suffered embarrassment and emotional suffering as a result of occurrences on the night of his arrest. [DE 37-1, pp. 85-86]. Leath's testimony about his embarrassment or emotional distress is not specific to the alleged throat grab, however, because Leath asserts that his emotional suffering is a result of multiple instances of conduct taking place throughout his interaction with officers on January 2nd. [See Id. at 86]. For instance, Leath stated that, “I have issues with the--the officers wanting to touch me and handle me all the time. So of course it is emotional. It's an emotional state to be locked up, period.” [Id.]. Leath has not submitted any expert medical testimony to support his assertion of emotional injury.

         Leath agrees that introducing evidence of a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other specific mental or emotional disorder would require expert testimony. [See DE 43');">43, p. 5]. Leath argues, however, that lay jurors may determine that specific instances of conduct caused Leath emotional distress. [See id.]. Alternatively, Defendants assert that the main problem that Leath has in the present case is proving causation because Leath's alleged emotional distress did not occur because of one specific ...


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