Larson et al v. Bondex International et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDERdenying 129 Union Carbide Corporation's Motion in Limine to Exclude Speculative Evidence of Fiber Supply. Signed by Judge Ted Stewart on 07/20/2011. (tls)
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
DIANNA K. LARSON and MERLIN B.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
ORDER DENYING UNION
MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE
SPECULATIVE EVIDENCE OF
BONDEX INTERNATIONAL, INC., et al.,
Case No. 2:08-CV-333 TS
The Court has before it Defendant Union Carbide Corporation’s (“Union Carbide”)
Motion in Limine to Exclude Speculative Evidence of Fiber Supply.1 Union Carbide moves the
Court to preclude Plaintiffs from introducing evidence at trial relating to Union Carbide’s supply
of raw asbestos fiber to any asbestos-containing product manufacturers—whether a party to this
action or not—without first laying proper foundation, outside the presence of the jury, that such
asbestos was actually present in the products to which Plaintiff Dianna Larson claims exposure.
In other words, Union Carbide moves the Court to preclude any evidence that Defendant
Docket No. 129.
Georgia-Pacific, or any other asbestos-containing product manufacturer, was a customer of
Union Carbide before Plaintiffs can establish that the product to which Plaintiff Dianna Larson
was exposed actually contained Union Carbide’s Calidria asbestos. Union Carbide contends that
without this showing, any evidence of Union Carbide’s sales of Calidria would be irrelevant, and
even if it was relevant, the probative value of this evidence would be greatly outweighed by its
undue prejudice to Union Carbide.
Union Carbide’s Motion effectively argues that, without evidence of direct causation, any
indirect evidence of causation is irrelevant. This argument, which asks the Court to evaluate the
sufficiency of Plaintiffs’ evidence, rather than the admissibility of such evidence, is inappropriate
for a motion in limine and has little to do with the issue of relevancy. Plaintiffs’ evidence of
Union Carbide’s sales of Calidria to Georgia-Pacific is certainly relevant as to whether GeorgiaPacific’s products contained Union Carbide Calidria asbestos and caused Plaintiff Dianna
Larson harm. The question of whether this evidence is sufficient to carry Plaintiffs’ burden is an
entirely different matter, and one more appropriately addressed to the Court on a motion for
judgment as a matter of law or to the jury during the course of the trial. Indeed, Union Carbide’s
own citation bears this out: “‘[a] mere possibility of such causation is not enough; and when the
matter remains one of pure speculation or conjecture, or the probabilities are at best evenly
balanced, it becomes the duty of the court to direct a verdict for the defendant.’”2
Union Carbide’s Motion effectively asks this Court to rule on the sufficiency of
Plaintiffs’ evidence of causation before Plaintiffs have had an opportunity to present their case.
Such a request is inappropriate at this stage of the proceedings and will be denied.
Weber v. Springville, 725 P.2d 1360, 1367 (Utah 1986) (quoting W. Keeton & W.
Prosser, Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts § 41, at 269 (5th ed. 1984)).
It is therefore
ORDERED that Union Carbide Corporation’s Motion in Limine to Exclude Speculative
Evidence of Fiber Supply (Docket No. 129) is DENIED.
DATED July 20, 2011.
BY THE COURT:
United States District Judge
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