Harmon et al v. Department of Justice et al
ORDER RE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF DEFENDANTS' PERSONAL ASSETS AND FINANCIAL CONDITION UNTIL A RIGHT TO PUNITIVE DAMAGES IS ESTABLISHED signed by Chief Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on November 13, 2017. (ECF NO. 36) (Munoz, I)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
12 JOSHUA HARMON and JENEA HARMON,
ORDER RE DEFENDANTS’ MOTION
TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF
DEFENDANTS’ PERSONAL ASSETS
AND FINANCIAL CONDITION UNTIL
A RIGHT TO PUNITIVE DAMAGES IS
15 Agent MICHAEL HAROLDSEN, individually,
and Agent TERESA HANNON, individually,
(ECF NO. 36)
This action arises out of the February 3, 2015 search of a residence owned by Plaintiffs Joshua
20 and Jenea Harmon by Defendants California Department of Justice Agents Michael Haroldsen and
21 Teresa Hannon. See generally ECF No. 6 (First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). Plaintiffs bring claims
22 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“§ 1983”) alleging Defendants used excessive and unreasonable coercion to
23 elicit Jenea Harmon’s consent to search the home (id. at ¶ 24), and wrongfully detained Jenea Harmon
24 against her will. Id. at ¶¶ 29-31. Plaintiffs also bring related state law claims. Id. at ¶¶ 32-41. Trial is set
25 for November 28, 2017.
Plaintiffs seek punitive damages against Defendants for the alleged § 1983, false imprisonment,
and Bane Act claims. On November 6, 2017, Defendants filed a memorandum requesting that the Court
preclude Plaintiffs from introducing evidence of their personal financial conditions, including personal
assets, unless and until Plaintiffs establish a right to punitive damages. Plaintiffs have not responded to
Evidence of each Defendant’s personal financial conditions is relevant in this case if, and only if,
Plaintiffs are able to establish that they are entitled to punitive damages – i.e. if they are able to state a
“prima facie case of oppression, fraud, or malice.” 999 v. C.I.T. Corp., 776 F.2d 866, 872-73 (9th Cir.
1985). Otherwise, presentation of such evidence would be “distracting and prejudicial.” Id.; see also
10 Fed. R. Evid. 403. Therefore, the request to exclude evidence of Defendants’ personal financial
11 condition unless and until Plaintiffs establish that they are entitled for punitive damages is GRANTED.
12 There will be no mention of “punitive damages” unless and until the jury makes the prerequisite finding.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Lawrence J. O’Neill _____
November 13, 2017
UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE
The Court notes that Defendants “memorandum” is essentially a late-filed pretrial motion. (ECF No. 20.) However, because
the Court would have made and granted the requested relief sua sponte in accordance with the applicable law and efficient
trial management, the Court has considered the late-filed request. Defendants are admonished to obey all applicable deadlines
in the future.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?