Leonard v. Lenz et al - See Order at #11 regarding service to Plaintiff
ORDER denying 74 Motion in Limine. Signed by Judge Linda R Reade on 10/12/2017. (NEF and order emailed to plaintiff) (pac) (Additional attachment(s) added on 10/12/2017: # 1 Return Receipt) (pac).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
OZGUR CAN LEONARD,
RACHEL JOY LENTZ,
The matter before the court is Defendant Rachel Joy Lentz’s Motion in Limine
(“Motion”) (docket no. 74).
II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On September 22, 2017, the court set a hearing pursuant to the Hague Convention
in this case for November 7, 2017. See September 22, 2017 Order (docket no. 62) at 1.
The date of the hearing was later changed to October 18, 2017. See September 28, 2017
Order (docket no. 64) at 1. In the September 22, 2017 Order, the court imposed a
deadline of October 10, 2017 for the filing of any motions in limine. See September 22,
2017 Order at 1. On October 10, 2017, Lentz filed the Motion.
Though the time to file a resistance to the Motion has not expired, and Leonard has
not filed a resistance, the court finds it appropriate to consider the Motion at this time. See
LR 7(e) (“[I]f circumstances . . . warrant, the court may elect to rule on a motion without
waiting for a resistance or response.”). In this case, the expedited nature of these
proceedings, the truncation of the time period between the date on which the Motion was
due and the hearing, the relaxed application of the Federal Rules of Evidence and the
court’s role in determining the facts, rather than a jury, all suggest that no prejudice will
result from the court ruling on the Motion without awaiting a resistance. See Danaipour
v. McLarey, 386 F.3d 289, 296 (1st Cir. 2004) (suggesting that, in summary proceedings
under the Hague Convention, strict application of the Federal Rules of Evidence is not
required); see also Demaj v. Sakaj, No. 3:09 CV 255 (JGM), 2012 WL 965214, at *3 (D.
Conn. March 21, 2012) (“[T]he Federal Rules of Evidence do apply in Hague Convention
and ICARA actions, albeit in a more ‘relaxed’ fashion . . . .” (citations omitted)).
Additionally, the court is well-versed in the application of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
The court elects to rule on the Motion without waiting for a resistance. Therefore, the
Motion is ready for decision.
In the Motion, Lentz argues that the court should prohibit Leonard from introducing
evidence or testimony regarding the following:
E.M.L.’s health or her pending kidney transplant;
Leonard’s ability to properly care for E.M.L., despite the child’s medical
The differing levels of care available in Turkish hospitals versus hospitals in
the United States; and
Any factor countering the so-called “grave risk defense” advanced by Lentz.
Brief in Support of the Motion (docket no. 74-1) at 2-6. Lentz’s basis for excluding these
categories of evidence is Leonard’s alleged “refusal to cooperate in the most basic of
discovery.” Id. at 1. Lentz contends that she propounded interrogatories upon Leonard
but Leonard “refused to provide any substantive response” to a majority of them. Id.
Lentz argues that she has been prejudiced by Leonard’s refusal to participate in the
discovery process because his refusal has “precluded [Lentz] from learning about
[Leonard’s] basic knowledge and contentions” regarding the case. Id. at 2.
In particular, Lentz argues that Leonard’s answers to four of her interrogatories
should preclude him from introducing evidence or testimony regarding the above
categories. In her First Continuing Interrogatories, Lentz requested, among other things,
that Leonard: “Identify each fact that supports your contention that the[re] would not be
a grave risk in returning the minor children to Turkey;” “Identify each time you have
taken any of the children to any medical appointments, the physician seen and the
treatment rendered;” “Explain your opposition to your daughter, E.M.L., receiving
treatment in the United States;” and state whether he “agree[d] that your daughter,
E.M.L., needs a kidney transplant? If not, why?” Exhibit 1 to the Motion (docket no. 742) at 6-7. In response, Leonard generally stated that the interrogatories were improper,
exceeded the scope of discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 and were
not calculated to lead to discoverable evidence. See Exhibit 2 to the Motion (docket no.
74-3) at 4-7. Leonard also states the Lentz has relevant information in her possession with
respect to the first two interrogatories listed above, and further contends that the third
interrogatory above is argumentative and misrepresents the facts of the dispute. Id.
The court finds that exclusion of all testimony and evidence of the four categories
included in the Motion is not warranted. To begin, the court views a motion in limine as
an inappropriate vehicle to air Lentz’s discovery woes. Though the court is mindful that
discovery has been a shortened affair in this dispute, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
explicitly provide a remedy for an opposing party’s obstructionist discovery tactics.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provides for discovery sanctions, including the inability
to present evidence on certain issues, for violation of a court order compelling discovery
or violations of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(a) or (e). See Fed. R. Civ. P.
37(b)(2)(A), (c)(1)(C). The court further notes that the Motion fails to comply with the
court’s September 22, 2017 Order, which states that “[a]ny motions in limine must
specifically reference the rules the parties believe relate to the admissibility of the
evidence.” September 22, 2017 Order at 1. Nowhere in the Motion does Lentz reference
any Federal Rule of Evidence or Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. Finally, the court views
the wholesale exclusion of any and all testimony and evidence pertaining to Lentz’s grave
risk defense, which she admits all of the evidence that the Motion seeks to exclude
embraces, as unduly prejudicial to Leonard. Lentz repeatedly emphasizes the importance
of the grave risk defense to the instant action. See generally Brief in Support of the
Motion. The court views it as necessary to fully develop the record regarding the defense
and, to do so, Leonard must be able to testify and present evidence regarding the same.
Accordingly, the court shall deny the Motion.
In light of the foregoing, the Motion (docket no. 74) is DENIED. Leonard may
present evidence and testify regarding the four categories of evidence in the Motion.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED this 12th day of October, 2017.
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