Antoine v. Safari Freight Inc et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER granting in part and denying in part 51 Motion in Limine. Signed by Judge James D Cain, Jr on 1/7/2022. (crt,Thomas, T)
Case 2:20-cv-00223-JDC-KK Document 58 Filed 01/07/22 Page 1 of 6 PageID #: 217
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
LAKE CHARLES DIVISION
DONALD R ANTOINE
CASE NO. 2:20-CV-00223
JUDGE JAMES D. CAIN, JR.
SAFARI FREIGHT INC ET AL
MAGISTRATE JUDGE KAY
Before the court is a Motion in Limine [doc. 51] filed by plaintiff Donald R.
Antoine. Defendants Safari Freight Inc., Great West Casualty Company, and Roosevelt
Bradley, Jr. oppose the motion. Doc. 55.
This suit arises from a motor vehicle accident that occurred on February 26, 2019,
on US Highway 165 in Allen Parish, Louisiana. Doc. 1, att. 1, p. 3. Plaintiff Donald Antoine
alleges that defendant Roosevelt Bradley, Jr. crossed the solid yellow line on the outside
lane and into the shoulder, rear-ending and severely injuring Antoine. Id. at 3–4. Antoine
filed suit against Bradley, Bradley’s employer, and their insurer in the 33rd Judicial District
Court, Allen Parish, Louisiana. Id. at 3–6. The defendants then removed the suit to this
court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1.
At the time of the accident Antoine was acting in the course and scope of his
employment with the Allen Parish Police Jury. Doc. 44, att. 1. He admits that certain
Case 2:20-cv-00223-JDC-KK Document 58 Filed 01/07/22 Page 2 of 6 PageID #: 218
medical expenses relating to the accident were paid by his employer and/or by his
employer’s worker’s compensation carrier. Id. He also states that he has settled all claims
with his employer and his employer’s worker’s compensation carrier, including claims for
past and future medicals. Id.
On a prior Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Motion in Limine, defendants
sought an order dismissing any claim for medical expenses in excess of the amount actually
paid by worker’s compensation and excluding any argument or evidence of same. Doc. 34.
To this end they argued that they should not be “penalized by plaintiff’s decision to ‘private
pay’ certain medical expenses, rather than submit them through worker’s compensation.”
Doc. 46, att. 2, p. 2. The court denied the motions, agreeing that worker’s compensation
insurance did not qualify as a collateral source under Louisiana law but noting that it lacked
sufficient information to determine if plaintiff had any medical expenses not covered by
that source. Doc. 53.
Plaintiff now brings the instant motion in limine, seeking exclusion of the following:
(1) any mention of his receipt of worker’s compensation benefits or his settlement with the
worker’s compensation carrier; (2) evidence not already made known to plaintiff, unless
the court finds that it is proper impeachment evidence; (3) evidence or questions about
when plaintiff decided to retain an attorney; (4) reference to the taxability of damages; (5)
references to the absence of witnesses who were equally available to both parties; (6)
references to the probable testimony of any absent witness; (7) argument or evidence that
Case 2:20-cv-00223-JDC-KK Document 58 Filed 01/07/22 Page 3 of 6 PageID #: 219
plaintiff’s attorney paid his medical bills; and (8) references to the fact that the plaintiff
filed this motion. Doc. 51. Defendants oppose the motion and note that they do not
anticipate seeking to introduce evidence in any of these categories. Doc. 55. Both sides
also point to the court’s recent ruling on a similar omnibus motion in limine in Fuselier v.
Everest Nat’l Ins. Co., 2021 WL 3184496 (W.D. La. July 26, 2021), and ask the court to
rule in like fashion here.
LAW & APPLICATION
A. Governing Law
Evidence is generally admissible so long as it is relevant and not barred by the
Constitution, a federal statute, the Federal Rules of Evidence, or other rules prescribed by
the Supreme Court. Fed. R. Evid. 402. Among other grounds, the court may exclude
relevant evidence where its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of
unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or
needlessly presenting cumulative evidence. Id. at 403.
Evidence should only be excluded in limine where it is “clearly inadmissible on all
potential grounds.” Hull v. Ford, 2008 WL 178890, at *1 (S.D. Tex. 2008) (citing
Hawthorne Partners v. AT&T Tech., Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993)).
“Motions in limine are frequently made in the abstract and in anticipation of some
hypothetical circumstance that may not develop at trial.” Looney Ricks Kiss Architects, Inc.
v. Bryan, 2010 WL 5174440, at *1 (W.D. La. Dec. 15, 2010) (quoting Collins v. Wayne
Case 2:20-cv-00223-JDC-KK Document 58 Filed 01/07/22 Page 4 of 6 PageID #: 220
Corp., 621 F.2d 777, 784 (5th Cir. 1980)). Evidentiary rulings, however, “should often be
deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice can
be resolved in proper context.” Id.; accord Baxter v. Anderson, 277 F.Supp.3d 860, 863
(M.D. La. 2017). Additionally, motion in limine rulings “are not binding on the trial judge
. . . and the judge may always change his mind during the course of a trial.” Ohler v. United
States, 529 U.S. 753, 764 n. 3 (2000).
1. Worker’s comp benefits and settlement
The court agrees that evidence of settlements and of any coverage afforded by
worker’s compensation is of minimal relevance, which is outweighed by the likelihood of
prejudice or confusion. The court and parties can determine which amounts may be
introduced outside of the presence of the jury. Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED in
2. Evidence not made known to plaintiff, hiring an attorney, taxability of
damages, absent witnesses, filing of motion in limine
As the undersigned ruled in Fuselier, it is premature to issue a ruling on these
matters—especially as it relates to the determination of proper impeachment evidence. The
court will defer ruling on the above requests until any of the issues arises at trial.
3. Payment of medical bills
Finally, plaintiff seeks to exclude any evidence or argument that his attorney has
paid some of his medical bills. Defendants oppose this request on the grounds that the
Case 2:20-cv-00223-JDC-KK Document 58 Filed 01/07/22 Page 5 of 6 PageID #: 221
collateral source rule does not apply to gratuitous write-offs obtained through the litigation
process, and that the evidence could therefore become relevant for the purpose of
calculating medical expenses. They also emphasize that an issue remains as to why
plaintiff’s counsel, and not worker’s compensation, paid some of his past medical
As the Fifth Circuit recently summarized:
The collateral-source rule bars a tortfeasor from reducing his liability
by the amount plaintiff recovers from independent sources. It is a substantive
rule of law, as well as an evidentiary rule (disallowing evidence of insurance
or other collateral payments that may influence a fact finder).  In its
simplest form, the rule asks whether the tortfeasor contributed to, or was
otherwise responsible for, a particular income source. If not, the income is
considered “independent of (or collateral to) the tortfeasor,” and the
tortfeasor may not reduce its damages by that amount. In practice, the rule
allows plaintiffs to recover expenses they did not personally have to pay.
Deperrodil v. Bozovic Marine, Inc., 842 F.3d 352, 358–59 (5th Cir. 2016) (internal
citations omitted); see also Bozeman v. State, 879 So.2d 692 (La. 2004). Under Louisiana
jurisprudence, however, the rule does not apply to attorney-negotiated writeoffs or
discounts for medical bills obtained as a result of the litigation process. Hoffman v. 21st
Century N. Am. Ins. Co., 209 So.3d 702, 706–07 (La. 2015).
The court lacks sufficient information, such as the bills and worker’s compensation
settlement at issue, to determine whether the amount recoverable can be stipulated and the
extent to which any payment arrangement is relevant. Accordingly, it will defer this issue
Case 2:20-cv-00223-JDC-KK Document 58 Filed 01/07/22 Page 6 of 6 PageID #: 222
The Motion in Limine [doc. 51] is hereby GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
PART as described above, without prejudice to either side’s ability to reurge a portion of
this motion to the extent the issue presents itself at trial.
THUS DONE AND SIGNED in Chambers on this 7th day of January, 2022.
JAMES D. CAIN, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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?