Heckman v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part Heckman's 110 Motion to preclude the testimony of Gregory Paulsen; granting Heckman's 111 Motion to preclude his prior criminal conviction; granting Heckman's 112 Motio n to preclude evidence of his workers compensation claim; denying Ryder's 114 Motion to limit Heckmans testimony concerning his head injury and cognitive deficits; granting Ryder Truck Rentals 115 Motion to limit the testimony of Heckmans experts Thomas W. Butler and Brooks Rugemer; denying Ryder's 116 Motion to exclude the testimony, report, and affidavit of Heckmans expert, Dennis L. McGarry; directing Ryder's 113 Motion to exclude evidence that, after Heckmans accident, Ryder modified the forms its employees use to document maintenance inspections of trucks, will be addressed separately at a later time. Signed by Judge Catherine C. Blake on 9/19/14. (dass, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
RYDER TRUCK RENTAL, INC., et al.
Civil No. CCB-12-664
The pending motions in limine have been considered. My rulings follow:
Heckman’s motion to preclude his prior criminal conviction, (ECF No. 111), has
not been opposed and is GRANTED.
2. Heckman’s motion to preclude evidence of his workers’ compensation claim,
(ECF No. 112), has not been opposed and is GRANTED.
3. Ryder Truck Rental’s (“Ryder’s”) motion to limit the testimony of Heckman’s
experts Thomas W. Butler and Brooks Rugemer, (ECF No. 115), by precluding
both witnesses from testifying as to the condition of the strap at the time it was
last inspected by Ryder, has not been opposed and is GRANTED.
4. Ryder’s motion to limit Heckman’s testimony concerning his head injury and
cognitive deficits, (ECF No. 114), is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE at this
time. At the very least, that testimony is relevant to the scope and severity of
Heckman’s injuries and thus to his damages. Ryder labels that testimony
irrelevant and prejudicial, arguing Heckman cannot, without expert testimony,
establish a causal relationship between any injury to his head and his accident.
Not so. No such expert testimony is necessary to establish causation “when [a]
disability develops coincidentally with, or within a reasonable time after, the
negligent act, or where the causal connection is clearly apparent from the illness
itself and the circumstances surrounding it, or where the cause of the injury relates
to matters of common experience, knowledge, or observation of laymen.”
Wilhelm v. St. Traffic Safety Comm’n, 185 A.2d 715, 719 (Md. 1962). The facts
of the accident, Heckman’s anticipated testimony, his medical records, and Dr.
Michael E. April’s anticipated testimony appear sufficient to establish causation
here. See Galloway v. Horne Concrete Constr., 524 F. App’x 865, 871–72 (4th
Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (unpublished) (applying Wilhelm, 185 A.2d 715).1 If any
specific item of damages, however, is not supported by the evidence at trial,
Ryder may move to strike or exclude that item before the issue is submitted to the
5. Heckman’s motion to preclude the testimony of Gregory Paulsen, (ECF No. 110),
is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. For want of “sufficient facts
or data” as to the intended use of the door strap, Fed. R. Evid. 702(b), Paulsen is
precluded from opining that using the door strap to pull the door up or to pull the
door out and away from the trailer would constitute “misuse” of the strap. Ryder
contends that Paulsen relied on the deposition testimony of two Wantz
Distributors’ employees as to the strap’s intended use in the context of their
employment. (Def.’s Opp. Mot. In Limine 2, ECF No. 135.) The contents of
those employees’ statements, however, do not support Ryder’s reading of them.
Unpublished opinions are cited for the soundness of their reasoning, not for any precedential value.
(See Def.’s Opp. Mot. In Limine, Ex. 1, Spigler Dep. 38; Def.’s Opp. Mot. In
Limine, Ex. 2, Strong Dep. 80). Ryder and Paulsen point to nothing else in the
record indicating that use of the door strap to pull the door up or to pull the door
out and away from the trailer was inconsistent with customary usage of that strap
among Wantz employees, other beer distribution businesses, or even the
commercial trucking industry. To the contrary, Paulsen’s own report and an
advertisement brought to his attention on cross examination suggest that such
usage was customary. (See Pl.’s Mot. Preclude Expert Test., Ex.1, Paulsen
Report 14, ECF No. 110-1; Pl.’s Mot. Preclude Expert Test., Ex. 2, Paulsen Dep.
42–43, ECF No. 110-2.) Characterizing such usage as “misuse” not only lacks
evidentiary support, but also threatens to mislead the jury. See Fed. R. Evid. 403.
Other of Paulsen’s opinions may be admissible and are not addressed here.
6. Ryder’s motion to exclude the testimony, report, and affidavit of Heckman’s
expert, Dennis L. McGarry, (ECF No. 116), is DENIED. Ryder’s motion is
materially indistinguishable from its previous effort to exclude McGarry’s
opinions from these proceedings. (Compare ECF. No. 116, with Def. Mot.
Exclude McGarry’s Test., ECF 90, and Reply Pl.’s Opp., ECF No. 94.) For the
reasons explained in the Memorandum, (ECF No. 104), accompanying the Order
denying Ryder’s previous motion, (ECF No. 105), Heckman will be permitted to
present McGarry’s opinions.
7. Ryder’s motion to exclude evidence that, after Heckman’s accident, Ryder
modified the forms its employees use to document maintenance inspections of
trucks, (ECF No. 113), will be addressed separately at a later time.
September 19, 2014
Catherine C. Blake
United States District Judge
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