Figaniak et al v. Fraternal Order of Owl's Home Nest et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFFS' OBJECTIONS TO JURY VIEW: Court believes a jury view will assist the jury; 225 Order is reaffirmed, and 229 Objections are Overruled. Signed by Senior Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr on 7/21/17. (soa)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
THOMAS G. FIGANIAK and
VALERIE A. FIGANIAK, as
Administrators of the
Estate of Kevin Figaniak,
Civil Action No. 5:15CV111
FRATERNAL ORDER OF OWL’S HOME NEST,
LOYAL ORDER OF OWLS NEST LODGE 2558,
d/b/a THE OWLS NEST,
a West Virginia corporation,
YE OLDE ALPHA, INC.,
a West Virginia corporation,
CRAIG TYLER PEACOCK, individually,
JARRETT CHANDLER, individually,
and TYLER JOHNSON, individually,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
REGARDING PLAINTIFFS’ OBJECTIONS TO JURY VIEW
On July 13, 2017, defendant Tyler Johnson (“Johnson”) filed a
motion for a jury view of certain sites described in the motion
that will be mentioned during the trial of this civil action, and
which are located at or near Edgington Lane and Locust Avenue in
Wheeling, West Virginia.
ECF No. 223.
This Court conditionally
granted that motion, permitting a jury view if conducted in
compliance with the procedures set forth in that order.
The plaintiffs’ counsel then filed a letter to this Court
regarding the motion, which this Court has received and reviewed,
as well as a response in opposition to Johnson’s motion for a jury
This memorandum opinion and order serves to reaffirm this
Court’s prior order conditionally granting Johnson’s motion for a
Courts have “inherent power to permit a jury view of places or
objects outside the courtroom,” and such decisions are “entrusted
to the sound discretion of the  court.”
United States v.
Simmons, 380 F. App’x 323, 327 (4th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation
A view may be refused where: (1) the location of
the view has changed significantly since the time of the event, see
United States v. Moonda, 347 F. App’x 192, 201 (6th Cir. 2009);
United States v. Davis, 127 F.3d 68, 70 (D.C. Cir. 1997); United
States v. Culpepper, 834 F.2d 879, 883 (10th Cir. 1987); (2)
evidence in the trial is sufficient to give the jury an adequate
picture of the scene, see Moonda, 347 F. App’x at 201; United
States v. Chiquito, 175 F. App’x 215, 217 (10th Cir. 2006); Kelley
v. Wegman’s Food Mkts., Inc., 98 F. App’x 102, 105 (3d Cir. 2004);
or (3) a view presents logistical difficulties, including undue
delay, difficulty of travel, and difficulty of control.
Gunther v. E. I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., 255 F.2d 710, 716 (4th
Cir. 1958); Jones v. Consolidated Coal Co., No. 1:13CV11, 2014 WL
1091214, *4 (N.D. W. Va. Mar. 19, 2014).
First, the plaintiffs argue that “there is no foundation to
determine what, if any, changes have been made to the scene over
For a more thorough background of this civil action, see ECF
the last three years.”
ECF No. 229 at 2.
The plaintiffs do not
identify any specific changes that have been made to the scene.
Rather, they only speculate that construction or natural elements
may have changed the configuration of features at the scene of the
If the parties are aware of any specific, significant
changes to the scene, they may notify this Court in a timely
fashion, and this Court will note any relevant changes for the jury
during the view.
Second, the plaintiffs argue that photographs, testimony, and
skillful advocacy will be sufficient to give the jury a picture of
They also note that because the incident happened
before dawn and a jury view would happened during the day, the view
will not accurately depict the conditions present at the time of
The parties’ use of photographs at trial will not eliminate
the benefits of a jury view, as the jurors may have a better
understanding of the evidence and testimony having physically
viewed and walked through the scene.
Further, daylight will not
alter the benefits of the view, as this Court is confident the jury
will understand that the fight occurred before daylight hours.
Other details regarding the parties’ actions and argument at the
scene will be brought out through testimony and evidence, and the
view will serve to assist the jury in understanding that evidence.
Third, the plaintiffs argue that the view will be too time
consuming and hard to control.
They further argue that the jury
may be encouraged to conduct its own investigation of the scene or
be confused by the relevance of the jury view.
regarding the purpose of the view and an admonishment that the jury
is not to conduct its own investigation of the scene will be
sufficient to control the jury view and prevent unfair prejudice or
courtroom and the distance the jury will be asked to walk is
minimal, this Court believes adherence to the conditions set forth
in its prior order conditionally granting Johnson’s motion for a
jury view (ECF No. 225) will be sufficient to ensure the view is
not unduly time consuming and will be logistically feasible.
For the reasons set forth above, this Court believes a view
will assist the jury in understanding the testimony and other
conditionally granting Johnson’s motion for a jury view (ECF No.
225) is REAFFIRMED and the plaintiffs’ objections (ECF No. 229) are
IT IS SO ORDERED.
The Clerk is DIRECTED to transmit a copy of this memorandum
opinion and order to counsel of record herein.
July 21, 2017
/s/ Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.
FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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