Stubbs v. Toney et al
ORDER denying Defendants' 26 Motion in Limine to Preclude Any Mention of the Speed Limit, etc.; and denying Defendants' 27 Motion in Limine to Exclude any Evidence of Other Traffic Violations and/or Violations of DOT Regulations. Signed by District Judge Keith Starrett on February 16, 2016 (dsl)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:14-CV-205-KS-MTP
RANDY LAMAR TONEY et al.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the Motion In Limine to Preclude Any Mention of the
Speed Limit at Intersection at the Time of the Accident Being 55 Miles Per Hour (“Motion to
Preclude Speed Limit”)  and the Motion In Limine to Exclude any Evidence of Other Traffic
Violations and/or Violations of DOT Regulations (“Motion to Exclude Other Violations”)  filed
by Defendants Randy Lamar Toney and Thompson Tractor Co., Inc. After reviewing the
submissions of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that these motion
should be denied.
This action arises out of a vehicular accident on December 16, 2013, during which a
commercial vehicle owned by Defendant Thompson Tractor Co., Inc. (“Thompson Tractor”), and
driven by Defendant Randy Lamar Toney (“Toney”), crashed into a vehicle being driven by Plaintiff
Todd Stubbs (“Plaintiff”) at or near the intersection of US Highway 84 and MS Highway 35. At the
time of the wreck, Plaintiff was crossing the eastbound lanes of US Highway 84, traveling on MS
Highway 35, in Covington County, Mississippi.
On November 26, 2014, Plaintiff brought this action in the Circuit Court of Covington
County, Mississippi, against Thompson Tractor and Toney (collectively “Defendants”), asking for
both compensatory and punitive damages. Defendants removed the action to this Court on
December 31, 2014, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. This Court has jurisdiction through diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Motion to Preclude Speed Limit 
In their Motion to Preclude Speed Limit , Defendants ask the court to preclude evidence
of a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit from being introduced to the jury. They argue that this speed limit
was posted on a double-diamond orange and black sign and was advisory only under the Manual on
Uniform Traffic Control Devices. As the Court is sitting in diversity, it applies Mississippi law.
Under Mississippi law, “[e]ven though the double-diamond sign in question is not a speedlimit sign according to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, it is an official traffic control
device according to the plain and unambiguous language of Mississippi Code Annotated section 633-133.” Etheridge v. Harold Case & Co., Inc., 960 So.2d 474, 480 (Miss. Ct. App. 2006). Under
§ 63-3-313, “drivers must obey all traffic-control devices, unless instructed otherwise by a police
officer.” Id. The court in Etheridge found a similar double-diamond sign that read “SLOW TO 45"
to be mandatory under Mississippi law, despite being advisory according to the Manual of Uniform
Traffic Control Devices. Id. at 479.
Defendants attempt to argue that the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, because
it has been approved by the Federal Highway Administrator as a national standard, preempts
Mississippi law when it comes to traffic control devices. For this sort of preemption to exists, it
must be “an express congressional command” or the “federal law [must] so thoroughly occup[y] a
legislative field as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for States to
supplement it.” Cipollone v. Liggett Grp., Inc., 505 U.S. 504, 516, 112 S. Ct. 2608, 120 L.Ed.2d 407
(1992) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Defendants have made no attempt to show that
either of these conditions are met. The Court cannot find, then, that Mississippi law is preempted.
Defendants further contend that the sign in Etheridge is distinguishable from the sign at issue
here, as it directed drivers to “SLOW TO 45" instead of just stating the speed limit. The Court finds
that this distinction has no meaning. The “SLOW TO” wording of the Etheridge sign did not make
it an official traffic control device. The sign was an official traffic control device because it was a
sign “placed or erected by authority of a public body or official having jurisdiction, for the purpose
of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic.” Etheridge, 960 So.2d at 479 (quoting MISS. CODE ANN.
§ 63-3-133). This same criteria is met by the sign in this case.
Therefore, because Defendants have not demonstrated that Mississippi law is preempted by
federal law or that the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit sign was not an official traffic control device
which drives were mandated to follow under Mississippi law, the Court will deny the Motion to
Preclude Speed Limit .
Motion to Exclude Other Violations 
In their Motion to Preclude Other Traffic Violations , Defendants ask the Court to
exclude from trial any evidence of other traffic violation and/or violations of DOT regulations
involving Defendants. Defendants argue that, because they were not cited for violating traffic law
or DOT regulations for the accident at issue, no previous violation can be similar enough to be
introduced as relevant evidence. They also contend that admission of such evidence, even if
relevant, would be prejudicial to them and therefore barred under Federal Rule of Evidence 403.
The Court does not find Defendants’ arguments persuasive to categorically exclude evidence
of past traffic or DOT violations, especially when neither party has pointed to any specific purported
use of such evidence. The Court will, however, caution Plaintiff, who contends that these past
violations are in some way relevant to his claims, that admissible use of past misconduct as evidence
against a defendant is limited under the Federal Rules of Evidences. Specifically, F.R.E. 404(b)(1)
holds that evidence of such conduct “is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show
that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.” However, this type
of evidence may be used for a different purpose, “such as proving motive, opportunity, intent,
preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.” Fed. R. Evid.
404(b)(2). Specific instances of conduct may also be used for impeachment purposes in limited
circumstances under F.R.E. 608(b).
Because the Court does not find a categorical exclusion of past violations warranted,
Defendants’ Motion to Exclude Other Violations  will be denied.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Motion to Preclude
Speed Limit  is denied.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants’ Motion to Exclude Other
Violations  is denied.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 16th day of February, 2016.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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