STEWART v. GEICO INSURANCE et al
ORDER granting 53 Motion in Limine. Plaintiff is precluded from introducing any evidence or testimony concerning the amount of the applicable UIM limits or the premiums paid for those limits. Signed by Judge Marilyn J. Horan on 10/11/2020. (bjl)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
GEICO INSURANCE, et al
Defendant, GEICO Insurance, has filed a Motion in Limine to preclude Plaintiff, Adam
Stewart, from introducing any evidence or testimony concerning the amount of the applicable
UIM limits or the premiums paid for those limits. (ECF No. 53). GEICO argues that such
evidence or testimony is not relevant and/or otherwise prejudicial. See Fed. R. Evid. 401 and
403. Stewart contends that the premiums and limits are essential terms and consideration of the
UIM contract and that these elements are necessary to prove his breach of contract claim. (ECF
As observed in Schmerling v. LM Gen. Ins. Co., Inc., 2018 WL 5848981, at *2 (E.D. Pa.
Nov. 8, 2018), courts in Pennsylvania have reached differing conclusions on this issue. In Noone
v. Progressive Direct Ins. Co., 2013 WL 8367579, at *2 (M.D. Pa. May 28, 2013), the court
concluded, without elaboration, that evidence of the underinsured motorist coverage, “even if it
is merely background information, will assist the jury in completely understanding and
evaluating the case” and that the evidence was “not overly prejudicial” to the defendant. Id. at
*2. Whereas in Lucca v. Geico Ins. Co., 2016 WL 3632717 (E.D. Pa. July 7, 2016), the court
concluded that the underinsured motorist policy limit, which was undisputed, did not reach even
the “low bar” of being relevant, because it presented no facts for the jury to decide. Id. at *2–3
(noting Noone failed to explain how an underinsured motorist policy “would be helpful to the
jury or to what disputed issue in the case the information related”). Lucca further stated that the
same evidence “may very well serve to prejudice [defendant] by giving the jury an anchor
number that has no bearing on [plaintiff's] damages.” Id. Schmerling agreed with the reasoning
in Lucca and concluded that evidence of the underinsured motorist policy is both irrelevant and
This Court concurs with both Schmerling and Lucca. The UIM policy limits and
premiums are irrelevant to the sole issue for the jury to resolve: the extent and value of Stewart’s
damages. The underinsured motorist policy limit and/or the premiums do not assist the jury in
making these determinations. In this UIM case, Stewart does not have the burden of establishing
GEICO’s contractual duties.
In addition, the relevance of this evidence is substantially
outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice in that the policy limit gives the jury an “anchor
number” that does not reflect the actual damages as presented at trial. See Lucca, 2016 WL
3632717, at *3.
Accordingly, GEICO’s Motion in Limine is granted. Plaintiff is precluded from
introducing any evidence or testimony concerning the amount of the applicable UIM limits or the
premiums paid for those limits.
BY THE COURT:
Marilyn J. Horan
United States District Judge
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