McClellan v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 30 State Farm's Motion to Exclude; granting in part and denying in part 38 State Farm's Second Motion in Limine; denying without prejudice 42 McClellan's Motion in Limine; denying as mo ot 33 First Motion in Limine, 40 Third Motion in Limine & 48 Motion to Amend Motion in Limine filed by State Farm. The parties should file a joint status report by 10/31/11. A pre-trial conference is scheduled on 11/2/11, at 3:00 p.m., in Little Rock Courtroom B155. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 10/12/2011. (jct)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
DOUGLAS ANDREW MCCLELLAN
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE
The Court has ruled on State Farm's motion for partial summary
judgment, dismissing McClellan's outrage and bad-faith claims. The contract
claim remains for the jury; and six evidentiary motions are ripe.
1. State Farm's third motion in limine and its motion to amend that
motion, Document Nos. 40 & 48, are denied as moot in light of the Court's
dismissal of the bad-faith claim. State Farm's first motion in limine, Document
No. 33, is also denied as moot. The Court will follow the Federal Rules of
Evidence and, of course, will not allow mention of various discovery disputes.
Further, McClellan's only objection to this motion was related to the bad-faith
claim. With that claim eliminated, this objection is also moot.
2. State Farm's motion to exclude the testimony of Beth Figueroa,
Document No. 30, is granted in part and denied in part. Much of Figueroa's
testimony is hearsay, double hearsay, or simply irrelevant. For example,
Figueroa testifies extensively about things Tracy Haas said or things
Figueroa's other customers said they heard Haas say. Unless McClellan can
bring this testimony within an exception, these statements are inadmissible
Figueroa does have some relevant testimony to offer. For example, she
testified that the man in the surveillance video resembles a person with
connections to Tracy Haas. This evidence is relevant to the theory that Haas,
not McClellan, was responsible for the theft. Further, some of Figueroa's
testimony about Haas might come in if Haas testifies and McClellan wishes
to impeach her credibility through opinion or reputation evidence. FED. R.
EVID.608. This testimony must not, however, run afoul of the hearsay rules.
With these guidelines in mind, the parties should confer and try to agree on
which of Figueroa's various statements may be admitted. The Court will rule
at the pretrial on any disputes that the parties cannot resolve between
3. State Farm's second motion in limine asks the Court to exclude
evidence about Tracy Haas's criminal record and legal history, evidence of
disputes between Haas and McClellan's current girlfriend, and evidence that
Haas was involved in repossessing a truck from McClellan in the past. The
motion, Document No. 38, is granted in part and denied in part.
If Haas testifies, and if she has any criminal convictions that meet the
requirements of Rule 609, then those convictions are admissible to impeach
her credibility. The Court reminds the parties, however, that the Rule limits
this evidence to convictions for particular crimes, not accusations, arrests, and
The motion is granted as to disputes between Tracy Haas (McClellan's
ex-girlfriend) and Justine Bone (McClellan's current girlfriend). McClellan
says that these disputes are relevant"to put together this crazy story and for
an understanding of the dynamics of the person that the Defendant has
aligneditselfwith." Document No. 54, at 5. State Farm's alignment with Haas,
however, was an argument that went to bad faith. And rather than clarifying
the story about the denied claim, evidence about these various disputes
would distract and confuse the jury. Finally, McClellan offers that the
"evidence is probative as to Tracy Haas'[s] whereabouts and knowledge of
the disappearance of the truck" Ibid. But McClellan offers no example to
support this statement; and the Court has been unable to find anything in the
exhibits he offers indicating that arguments between Haas and Bone would
show Haas's knowledge or whereabouts when the truck disappeared.
State Farm's request to exclude evidence that Haas was involved in
repossessing a different truck from McClellan in the past is denied. This
evidence is relevant: it supports McClellan's theory that Haas may have been
involved in taking this truck And any prejudice can be eliminated by State
Farm examining Haas about the circumstances surrounding this lawful
4. McClellan's first motion in limine asks the Court to exclude evidence
about the disappearance of a 2002 truck that is titled in McClellan's name and
the related debt and deficiency remaining on that truck
Document No. 42, is denied without prejudice. The Court is still wrestling
with Federal Rules of Evidence 403, 404(a) and 405(b) on this issue.
McClellan's handling of 2002-truck issues do not seem to have been a basis
for State Farm denying this claim. Document No. 15-1. State Farm must
establish some stronger link here or the Court will probably grant the motion:
the jury should not decide this case simply based on a "he did it again"
theory. The Court looks forward to further argument on this motion at the
5. State Farm's first and third motions in limine and its motion to
amend, Document Nos. 40, 48, & 33, are denied as moot. Its motion to exclude
Beth Figueroa's testimony and its second motion in limine, Document Nos. 30
& 38, are granted in part and denied in part. And McClellan's first motion in
limine, Document No. 42, is denied without prejudice.
The Court will hold a pretrial on 2 November 2011, at 3:00 p.m. in Little
Rock. The parties should reflect on the Court's rulings on the merits and
evidentiary issues and make a good-faith effort to sort out their various
deposition designations and objections. The parties should file a joint status
report listing remaining deposition disputes by 31 October 2011. If any
disputes remain, the Court will rule on them at the pretrial. The parties
should also be prepared to discuss exhibits, trial length, and general trial
architecture at the hearing.
D.P. Marshall Jr.
United States District Judge
12 October 2011
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