Harris v. Tunica County, Mississippi
ORDER denying 82 Motion in Limine; denying 83 Motion to Strike ; denying 84 Motion in Limine; denying 86 Motion to Strike. Signed by District Judge Michael P. Mills on 1/10/2017. (lpm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
RICO F. HARRIS
Civil Action No.: 3:14-cv-00218-MPM-SAA
TUNICA COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI
and CALVIN K. (“K.C.”) HAMP, SR.,
In his Individual Capacity
Presently before the Court are defendant Tunica County, Mississippi’s (“Tunica County”)
First Motion in Limine  and Second Motion in Limine . In response, plaintiff Rico Harris
(“Harris”) filed two motions to strike . Harris also alternatively filed responses in
opposition to the motions . Having considered the parties’ motions and arguments,
along with relevant case law and evidence, the Court is now prepared to rule.
Harris’ Motions to Strike :
In its case management order, this Court specifically instructed the parties that “[t]he
deadline for motions in limine is fourteen days before the pretrial conference; the deadline for
responses is seven days before the pretrial conference.” After being reset multiple times for
various reasons, the final pretrial conference in this case was held on December 21, 2016. Thus,
the deadline for motions in limine was December 7, 2016. However, Tunica County did not
meet this deadline and actually filed both of its motions in limine on December 21, 2016—the
day of the pretrial conference. Harris thus immediately filed his motions to strike, arguing that
Tunica County’s motions should be stricken as untimely filed. In response, Tunica County
The Defendants concede that their two Motions in Limine [dock #82 and #84]
were not filed two (2) weeks before the rescheduled Pre Trial Conference. This
was an oversight on the part of defense counsel. Nevertheless, the Plaintiff has
responded to the Motions in Limine and the evidentiary issued raised by the
Motions in Limine are now squarely before the Court. The Plaintiff has suffered
While Tunica County undoubtedly failed to comply with the deadline set forth in the case
management order, the issues raised within the motions are now squarely before the Court and
the Court does not perceive any prejudice that Harris will suffer by the Court considering the
merits of the motions. Therefore, the Court will now address the substance of the motions—
regardless of the fact that they were untimely filed. Accordingly, the Court will deny Harris’
motions to strike.
Legal Standard for Motions In Limine:
This Court has previously held that “[t]he purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the
trial court to rule in advance of trial on the admissibility and relevance of certain forecasted
evidence.” Harkness v. Bauhaus U.S.A., Inc., 2015 WL 631512, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Feb. 13,
2015) (additional citations omitted). When ruling upon motions in limine, the Court notes that
“[e]vidence should not be excluded . . . unless it is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds.”
Id. (quoting Fair v. Allen, 2011 WL 830291, at *1 (W.D. La. Mar. 3, 2011)) (emphasis added).
Moreover, evidentiary rulings “should often be deferred until trial so that questions of
foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice can be resolved in proper context.” Rivera v.
Salazar, 2008 WL 2966006, at *1 (S.D. Tex. July 30, 2008) (citing Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire &
Rubber Co., 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975)). The Court also notes that “[d]enial of a motion
in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be
admitted at trial. Denial merely means that without the context of trial, the court is unable to
determine whether the evidence in question should be excluded.” Gonzalez v. City of Three
Rivers, 2013 WL 1150003, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 8, 2013) (quoting Hawthorne Partners v. AT&T
Tech., Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993); Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4,
105 S.Ct. 460, 83 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984)).
Tunica County’s First Motion in Limine :
Having determined that it will address the merits of Tunica County’s motions, the Court
now turns to Tunica County’s first motion in limine. In the motion, Tunica County “move[s] to
exclude any person at trial, witness or attorney, from speculating about or suggesting in any way
that Defendant, Calvin Hamp, has engaged or is engaged in a romantic affair with his
subordinate, Bernadette Logan.” Tunica County asserts that Harris has “no evidence beyond
rumor and speculation . . . that  an affair ever occurred.” Moreover, Tunica County argues that
permitting any witness to suggest that an affair took place would be unduly prejudicial and
should be excluded pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 401, 402, 403, and 802.
In response, Harris states that while Tunica County is correct in its assertions that
speculation and rumor are generally inadmissible forms of evidence, his Title VII claim is based
on the theory that “he was treated less favorable because of his male gender than female
officers.” As to this claim, he asserts that “specific observations of the way Hamp treated
females as opposed to males in the department is relevant . . . and not unduly prejudicial.”
Taking both parties’ arguments into consideration, the Court finds that the motion should
be denied. This Court has previously held that “motions in limine should be narrowly tailored to
address issues which will likely arise at trial and which require a pre-trial ruling due to their
complexity and/or the possibility of prejudice if raised in a contemporaneous objection.” Estate
of Wilson v. Mariner Health Care, Inc., 2008 WL 5255819, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Dec. 16, 2008).
Simply put, this standard is not satisfied here. In its motion, Tunica County essentially makes
the blanket assertion that this Court should not admit hearsay evidence. In this Court’s view,
while it agrees that hearsay evidence should not be admitted, the substance of this motion should
be deferred until trial “so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice can be
resolved in proper context.” See Rivera, 2008 WL 2966006, at *1. Accordingly, the Court finds
that Tunica County’s first motion in limine should be denied.
Tunica County’s Second Motion in Limine :
In its second motion in limine, Tunica County requests that the Court exclude the
testimony and medical records of Dr. Timothy Callaghan—Harris’ treating physician— pursuant
to Federal Rules of Evidence 401, 402, 403, 702(a). In the motion, Tunica County asserts that
although Harris states that Dr. Callaghan’s opinions will be consistent with the medical records
provided, “[t]he records . . . make no mention of the cause of the Plaintiff’s weight loss, fatigue,
and headaches. The records do not indicate that Dr. Callaghan is of the opinion that these
conditions were caused by acts or omissions associated with the Defendants.” Thus, Tunica
County asserts that Dr. Callaghan’s testimony should be excluded as there is no causal link
between Harris’ symptoms and Tunica County’s conduct. Additionally, Tunica County argues
that the medical records indicate that Harris suffers from a “reversal of cervical curve,” which “is
a condition that is either caused by trauma or some sort of degenerative problem.” Tunica
County states that a reversal of the cervical curve “causes headaches and other problems such as
the ones claimed by the Plaintiff. As such, the records provide no support of the Plaintiff’s claim
that his headaches and other conditions were caused by the acts of the Defendants.”
In opposition, Harris argues that the timeline of events in the case provides sufficient
circumstantial evidence for the causation issue. Harris emphasizes that he was demoted, placed
on administrative leave, subjected to an internal investigation, was terminated, and visited Dr.
Callaghan after visiting the emergency room, all within less than two weeks. Thus, he argues
that “[a] reasonable jury could conclude that being terminated after nine (9) years of employment
with Defendants, for engaging in protected First Amendment speech, is the cause of Harris’
treatment at the emergency room and by Dr. Callaghan, within days of the termination because
of weight loss, fatigue and headaches. It is for a jury to make that determination, as causation is
an issue of fact.”
The Court again finds that Tunica County’s motion should be denied. “[T]he Fifth
Circuit has held that a medical doctor testifying as to issue of causation may base his testimony
upon a review of medical records, the doctor’s experience, and a broad review of  literature[.]”
Rhodes v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 2013 WL 1289050, at *3 (W.D. La. Mar. 26,
2013) (citing Carroll v. Morgan, 17 F.3d 787, 789-90 (5th Cir. 1994)). Thus, Dr. Callaghan,
upon review of the medical records and his personal experience in treating Harris, may testify at
trial as to the causation issue, presuming that foundation and relevancy requirements have been
satisfied. While the Court is certainly aware of Tunica County’s position, it will be given the
opportunity at trial to cross-examine Dr. Callaghan to expose its perceived errors in his analysis.
See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 595, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125
L.Ed.2d 469 (1993) (“Vigorous cross-examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and
careful instruction on the burden of proof are the traditional and appropriate means of attacking
shaky but admissible evidence.”). Taking these considerations into account, the Court finds that
Tunica County’s second motion in limine should be denied.
Relying on the foregoing analysis, it is hereby, ORDERED that Tunica County’s First
Motion in Limine  and Second Motion in Limine , along with Harris’ Motions to Strike
, are DENIED.
SO ORDERED, this the 10th day of January, 2017.
/s/ MICHAEL P. MILLS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
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