Jordan v. Wayne County, Mississippi et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 36 Motion in Limine. Signed by District Judge Keith Starrett on 7/13/2017 (dtj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:16-CV-70-KS-MTP
WAYNE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, et al.
The Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants’ Motion in Limine
 as provided below.
First, Defendants argue that Plaintiff should be barred from testifying as to the
cause of his alleged high blood pressure and/or stress on his kidneys. In response,
Plaintiff argues that he should be permitted to offer a lay opinion that the traffic stop
caused his high blood pressure, kidney stress, and headaches.
“The distinction between lay and expert testimony is that lay testimony results
from a process of reasoning familiar in everyday life, whereas expert testimony results
from a process of reasoning that can only be mastered by specialists in the field.”
United States v. York, 600 F.3d 347, 360-61 (5th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, lay witnesses
may not provide opinions which “require specialized medical knowledge.” Id. at 361.
But, assuming Rule 701's requirements are met, a lay witness can provide opinion
testimony as to mental state. See United States v. Heard, 709 F.3d 413, 422 (5th Cir.
2013). In fact, this Court has permitted lay witnesses to provide limited opinion
testimony as to causation of emotional stress and resulting headaches and upset
stomachs. See Ishee v. Fannie Mae, No. 2:13-CV-234-KS-MTP, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
165910, at *1-*4 (S.D. Miss. Nov. 26, 2014).
Therefore, assuming that Rule 701's requirements are met, Plaintiff may provide
opinion testimony as to the causation of his stress. He may also provide opinion
testimony as to the causation of his headaches. See id. However, opinion testimony
regarding the causation of high blood pressure and kidney problems is a step too far,
requiring specialized knowledge and more than simple post hoc ergo propter hoc
reasoning. Cf. Edmonds v. Ill. C.G.R. Co., 910 F.2d 1284, 1287 (5th Cir. 1990)
(proposed expert’s opinion that stress caused heart problems had insufficient basis
where he did not conduct medical tests, was not qualified as expert in medicine).
Therefore, while Plaintiff may provide fact testimony regarding his high blood pressure
and kidney problems (i.e. when he was diagnosed, the frequency of occurrence, whether
he has suffered such symptoms in past), he may not provide any opinion as to their
Defendants also argue that Plaintiff’s treating physicians’ testimony should be
limited because they were not designated as expert witnesses. Plaintiff did not respond
Plaintiff also argues that he should be permitted to provide lay opinions as
to causation of his high blood pressure and kidney problems because the doctrine of
res ipsa loquitur applies. For this doctrine to apply, Plaintiff must prove, among
other things, that “the causation basis is within the common knowledge of laymen .
. . .” Savage v. Pilot Travel Ctrs., LLC, 464 F. App’x 288, 291 (5th Cir. 2012). For the
same reasons provided herein, the Court finds that the causation basis of Plaintiff’s
high blood pressure and kidney problems are not within the common knowledge of
to this argument, and the parties have not fully briefed it. The Court will address it at
In the meantime, the Court advises the parties’ counsel to take note of the
Court’s prior rulings in similar situations. See, e.g. Walker v. Target Corp., No. 2:16CV-42-KS-MTP, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104182, at *2-*6 (S.D. Miss. July 6, 2017). In
summary, Rule 26's designation requirement applies to all expert witnesses, including
treating physicans. Hamburger v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 361 F.3d 875, 882
(5th Cir. 2004). But treating physicians are not required to submit an expert report.
See FED. R. CIV. P. 26(a)(2)(B). If a treating physician designated as an expert does not
submit a report, their testimony is limited to those facts and opinions in their disclosed
medical records. Barnett v. Deere & Co., No. 2:15-CV-2-KS-MTP, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
123114, at *3 (S.D. Miss. Sept. 11, 2016). If a treating physician is not designated as
an expert, they may not provide any testimony within the scope of Rule 702. Walker,
2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104182 at *6. They may only testify as a fact witness. Id.
Defendant argues that the Court should exclude any testimony by any witness
on the subject of retaliation for lack of support during an election. Plaintiff does not
object to this aspect of Defendant’s motion, and the Court grants it as unopposed.
Finally, Defendant argues that the Court should exclude evidence of certain
media reports regarding traffic stops by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department.
Plaintiff has no objection to this aspect of Defendant’s motion, and the Court grants it
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this __13th___ day of __July_____, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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