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Davenport v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division

May 24, 2018

Maria Davenport, Arnold Davenport, and Demorio Davenport, Plaintiffs,
v.
Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd. and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         This matter is before the court pursuant to Plaintiffs Maria Davenport, Arnold Davenport, and Demorio Davenport's (collectively “Plaintiffs”) Motion in Limine (ECF No. 120). Defendants Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd. and The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company's (“Goodyear”) (collectively “Defendants”) filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion (ECF No. 132). For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine (ECF No. 120).

         I. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On September 18, 2015, Plaintiffs Maria Davenport, Arnold Davenport, and Demorio Davenport filed a Complaint against Defendants. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff Maria Davenport alleged she suffered injuries while she was driving a 1996 Ford Explorer (“Subject Vehicle”) when the tread on the left rear tire (“Subject Tire”) separated from the car, causing it to overturn (“Subject Accident”). (Id.) Plaintiff Demorio Davenport was a passenger in the car and he also alleges that he suffered injuries during the incident. (Id.) Plaintiffs Maria and Demorio Davenport seek damages for their claims of negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. (Id.) Plaintiff Arnold Davenport alleges loss of consortium. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff Devon Davenport individually filed a second Complaint in this court. See Devon Davenport v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd. and The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-03752-JMC. On August 2, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Consolidate both cases. (ECF No. 41.) On October 25, 2016, the court granted Defendants' Motion to Consolidate for all purposes, including trial. (ECF No. 59 at 5.)

         Plaintiffs' present Motion requests that the court preclude Defendants from introducing into evidence and from making any comment in the presence of the jury, directly or indirectly, in any manner whatsoever, concerning the following matters:

1. Maria Davenport's social security application, determination or entitlement to social security benefits;
  1. Devon Davenport's accident of January 4, 2014, subsequent arrest and criminal charge;

  1. Care or maintenance of tires other than the Subject Tire by any Plaintiff;

  1. Collateral source payments/benefits;

  1. Liability insurance payments to the vehicle's passengers;

  1. Any testimony of the storage of tires other than the Subject Tire;

  1. Tire separations' controllability;

  1. Filing this Motion in Limine;

  1. The South Carolina traffic collision report;

  1. Date summons and complaint was filed;

  1. Any prior traffic citations, lawsuits, or automobile accidents involving Plaintiffs;

  1. Criminal charges and arrests;

  1. Employment of counsel/fees and date counsel was retained;

  1. Unrelated claims or injuries; and

15. Failure to call equally available witnesses

(ECF No. 120). Defendants responded to each request for exclusion in their Response (ECF No. 132), and Plaintiffs filed a Reply (ECF No. 144).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         “The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow a court to rule on evidentiary issues in advance of trial in order to avoid delay, ensure an even-handed and expeditious trial, and focus the issues the jury will consider.” Newkirk v. Enzor, No. 2:13-1634-RMG, 2017 WL 823553, at *2 (D.S.C. 2017) (internal citations omitted). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 401, evidence is relevant if it has “any tendency” to make a fact of consequence to the issues in question “more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 401. Federal Rule of Evidence 403 provides that evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time or needless cumulative evidence. Fed.R.Evid. 403. Evidence should be construed in the “light most favorable to its proponent, maximizing its probative value and minimizing its prejudicial effect.” United States v. Salazar, 338 F. Appx 338, 343-44 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing United States v. Simpson, 910 F.2d 154, 157 (4th Cir. 1990)). Prejudicial evidence is excluded to protect the jury from drawing improper inferences. Mullen v. Princess Anne Volunteer Fire Co., 853 F.2d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1988) (“All ...


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