Lee v. Dennison et al
ORDER Granting 93 Motion in Limine. Signed by Judge Kent J. Dawson on 1/17/2023. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - TRW)
Case 2:19-cv-01332-KJD-NJK Document 130 Filed 01/17/23 Page 1 of 2
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEVADA
DINO DENNISON, et al.,
Case No. 2:19-cv-01332-KJD-NJK
Presently before the Court is Defendants’ Motion in Limine No. 6 to Preclude Use of Reptile
Arguments During Trial. (#93). Plaintiff responded in opposition. (#119).
This action arises from a motor vehicle accident on September 9, 2017. Plaintiff Alexis Lee
Factual and Procedural Background
(“Lee”) was driving an economy-sized Hyundai Sonata and Defendant Dino Dennison
(“Dennison”) was driving a semi-truck as an employee of Defendant Knight Transportation
(“Knight”) when the two vehicles collided. A nearby police officer responded to the incident,
assessed the situation, and filed a report. Lee filed suit against Dennison and Knight for damages.
Defendants bring this motion in limine to preclude Plaintiff from making arguments or
presenting evidence that will promote (1) a sense of fear, (2) self-preservation to protect
community, and (3) punishment for Defendants.
A motion in limine is a procedural mechanism made in advance to limit testimony or
evidence in a particular area” and is “entirely within the discretion of the Court.” Diamond X
Ranch, LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Co., No. 3:13-cv-00570-MMD-WGC, 2018 WL 2127734, at
*1 (D. Nev. May 8, 2018). A “motion in limine should not be used to resolve factual disputes or
weigh evidence.” IGT v. Alliance Gaming Corp., No. 2:04-cv-1676-RCJ-RJJ, 2008 WL
Case 2:19-cv-01332-KJD-NJK Document 130 Filed 01/17/23 Page 2 of 2
7084605, at *2 (D. Nev. Oct. 21, 2008). “To exclude evidence on a motion in limine, ‘the
evidence must be inadmissible on all potential grounds.’” Diamond X Ranch, 2018 WL
2127734, at *1 (quoting Indiana Ins. Co. v. General Elec. Co., 326 F.Supp.2d 844, 846 (N.D.
Defendants’ concern lies with “a recent trend among the plaintiff bar suggesting that plaintiff
lawyers must appeal to the jurors’ own sense of self-protection in order to persuade and prevail
at trial” called the “Reptile Strategy.” (#93, at 5). According to this theory, jurors award larger
verdicts to plaintiffs because of an appeal made by lawyers to jurors’ primary instinct of self-
preservation and sense of fear. Id. Defendant’s do not want Plaintiff’s counsel couching
“allegations of liability in terms of safety rather than standard of care.” Id. at 6. Defendants also
object to any reference to “Golden Rule” arguments as improper, because it encourages jurors to
depart from neutrality and issue a judgment while imagining what the juror themselves would
Plaintiff objects to the motion and argues that it is an unnecessary request to the Court
because it is nothing more than “baseless pre-trial speculation.” (#119, at 3). Plaintiff takes issue
with the accusation that Plaintiff’s counsel may violate well-established trial procedure and
conduct, as well as the broad nature of the “reptile argument” claim. Id.
The Court notes that no attorney misconduct will be allowed during trial. The Court also
notes that although somewhat vague, the concerns of Defendants are well taken. The Court
reminds the parties that arguments should be made consistent with the jury instructions and
according to the standard of care. And as Plaintiff argued, the Defendants may object to specific
instances of misconduct as may or may not occur during the trial.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion in Limine (#93) is
Dated this 17th day of January, 2023.
Kent J. Dawson
United States District Judge
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