Janson et al v. LegalZoom.com, Inc.

Filing 154

MOTION in limine to exclude any evidence or argument concerning the In re Thompson decision filed by David T. Butsch on behalf of Gerald T. Ardrey, C & J Remodeling LLC, Chad M Ferrell, Todd Janson. Suggestions in opposition/response due by 8/19/2011 unless otherwise directed by the court. (Butsch, David)

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IN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI CENTRAL DIVISION TODD JANSON, et al., on behalf of themselves and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. LEGALZOOM.COM, INC. Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 2:10-cv-04018-NKL PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OR ARGUMENT CONCERNING THE IN RE THOMPSON DECISION Come now Plaintiffs, by and through counsel, and for their Motion in Limine to exclude any evidence or argument concerning the In re Thompson decision, state as follows: Plaintiffs anticipate, based on arguments asserted by LegalZoom in their summary judgment papers, that LegalZoom will attempt to introduce evidence or argument before the jury that the use of legal forms is legal in Missouri based upon the decision in In re Thompson, 574 S.W.2d 365 (Mo. banc 1978). LegalZoom’s argument is that because the Missouri Supreme Court approved the sale of do-it-yourself divorce kits in Thompson, LegalZoom’s conduct is lawful as well. Such evidence or argument should be excluded because “[e]vidence which is not relevant is not admissible.” Fed. R. Evid. 402. Furthermore, such evidence would mislead and confuse the jury who are charged with determining issues of fact, not law. How the Missouri Supreme Court decided the Thompson case has no bearing on the factual issues to be presented to the jury. The statutory underpinning of plaintiffs’ cause of action is Section 484.020.1 RSMo, which prohibits “the drawing” or “assisting in the drawing for a valuable consideration” of “any paper, document or instrument affecting or relating to secular rights.” Thus, the factual question for the jury to decide is whether LegalZoom participated in or assisted in the drawing of legal documents. What occurred in a unrelated lawsuit, Thompson, has no bearing on that factual question. “‘Relevant evidence’ means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” Fed. R. Evid. 401. “Evidence which is not relevant is not admissible.” Fed. R. Evid. 402. “A defendant has no right to offer and a jury has no right to hear inadmissible evidence.” U.S. v. Ceballos, 593 F. Supp. 2d 1054, 1059 (S.D. Iowa 2009). The circumstances of the Thompson lawsuit, which may relate to the legal issues presented, have no bearing whatsoever on the factual determination to be made by the jury concerning whether LegalZoom violated Section 484.020.1 RSMo. This court has broad discretion in determining the admissibility of evidence, Fortune Funding, LLC v. Ceridian Corp., 368 F.3d 985, 990 (8th Cir. 2004), and should exercise its discretion to exclude evidence or argument concerning the availability of legal forms in Missouri. 2 Edward D. Robertson, Jr., # 27183 Mary Doerhoff Winter, # 38328 BARTIMUS, FRICKLETON, ROBERTSON & GORNY 715 Swifts Highway Jefferson City, MO 65109 573.659.4454, 573.659.4460 (fax) chiprob@earthlink.net, marywinter@earthlink.net /s/ David T. Butsch David T. Butsch, # 37539 James J. Simeri, #52506 BUTSCH SIMERI FIELDS LLC 231 S. Bemiston Ave., Ste. 260 Clayton, MO 63105 314.863.5700, 314.863.5711 (fax) butsch@bsflawfirm.com simeri@bsflawfirm.com Timothy Van Ronzelen, #44382 Matthew A. Clement, #43833 Kari A. Schulte, #57739 COOK, VETTER, DOERHOFF & LANDWEHR, PC 231 Madison Jefferson City, Missouri 65101 573.635.7977, 573.635.7414 (fax) tvanronzelen@cvdl.net mclement@cvdl.net kschulte@cvdl.net Randall O. Barnes, #39884 RANDALL O. BARNES & ASSOCIATES 219 East Dunklin Street, Suite A Jefferson City, Missouri 65101 573.634.8884, 573.635.6291 (fax) rbarnesjclaw@aol.com Steven E. Dyer, #45397 LAW OFFICES OF STEVEN DYER 10850 Sunset Office Drive, Ste. 300 St. Louis, MO 63127 314.898.6715 jdcpamba@gmail.com Attorneys for Plaintiffs 3 CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I certify that on August 2, 2011, I filed the foregoing with the Clerk of the Court using the CM/ECF system. The system sent notification of this filing to the following: Party Counsel Robert M. Thompson James T. Wicks BRYAN CAVE LLP One Kansas City Place 1200 Main Street, Ste. 3500 Kansas City, MO 64105 816.374.3200, 816.374.3300 (fax) Defendant LegalZoom.com, Inc. John Michael Clear Michael Biggers James Wyrsch BRYAN CAVE LLP One Metropolitan Square, Ste. 3600 211 N. Broadway St. Louis, MO 63102 314.250.2000, 314.259.2020 (fax) /s/ David T. Butsch 4

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