United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
DAN J. BENSON, Plaintiff,
OFFICER ANDRES FACEMYER, in his individual capacity, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DWFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Andres Facemyer's
(“Defendant”) Motion in Limine  and
Plaintiff Dan J. Benson's (“Plaintiff”)
Motion in Limine .
Amended Complaint asserts a Fourth Amendment claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. A trial was held from February 2, 2015,
through February 5, 2015, where the jury found in favor of
Plaintiff, deciding that Plaintiff was arrested without
probable cause when Defendant handcuffed and searched
Plaintiff and placed him in a police wagon. Defendant moved,
under Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for
judgment as a matter of law and also moved to alter or amend
the judgment or, in the alternative, for a new trial. The
Court declined to find that Defendant was entitled to
qualified immunity as a matter of law, but stated that a new
trial on the issue of damages would be conducted after
determining if arguable probable cause developed after
Plaintiff's initial arrest. Both parties appealed the
20, 2016, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the order, concluding
that Defendant “violated clearly established law in
making that arrest” and that he “was not entitled
to qualified immunity at the time of the initial
arrest.” The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the
parties' remaining appeals for lack of jurisdiction.
Benson v. Facemyer, 657 F. App'x 828, 835 (11th
further process this case for trial on Plaintiff's
damages, on September 23, 2016, the Court required the
parties to file memoranda on whether arguable probable cause
developed after Plaintiff's arrest. On December 14, 2016,
the Court found that no arguable probable cause arose during
Defendant's investigation after the initial arrest.
trial will solely be on damages, and the parties have filed
their respective motions in limine. (, ).
motion in limine is a pretrial motion by which a
litigant seeks to exclude inadmissible or prejudicial
evidence before it is actually offered at trial. See Luce
v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984); see
also Soto v. Geico Indem. Co., No. 6:13-CV-181-ORL-40KR,
2014 WL 3644247, at *1 (M.D. Fla. July 21, 2014) (“The
real purpose of a Motion in Limine is to give the
trial judge notice of the movants' position so as to
avoid the introduction of damaging evidence which may
irretrievably affect the fairness of the trial.”)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Judges have
broad discretion when ruling on such motions. See Cook ex
rel. Estate of Tessier v. Sheriff of Monroe Cnty., Fla.,
402 F.3d 1092, 1104-05 (11th Cir. 2005). Limine rulings are
provisional rulings, and the trial judge may reverse the
decision during the course of a trial. See Ohler v.
United States, 529 U.S. 753, 758 n.3 (2000).
“will grant a motion in limine to exclude
evidence only if the evidence in question is clearly
inadmissible.” Wilson v. Pepsi Bottling Grp.,
Inc., 609 F.Supp.2d 1350, 1359 (N.D.Ga. 2009).
“The district court has wide discretion in determining
the relevance of evidence produced at trial.” Boyd
v. Ala. Dep't. of Corr., 296 Fed. App'x 907, 908
(11th Cir. 2008); see also United States v. Nowak,
370 Fed. App'x 39, 41 (11th Cir. 2010) (“District
courts have broad discretion to admit probative evidence, but
their discretion to exclude [relevant] evidence under Rule
403 is limited.”).
Defendant's Motion in Limine
All Evidence Related to Plaintiff's Alleged
seeks to exclude “any evidence relating to
Plaintiff's alleged damages, because Plaintiff is barred
from recovery by the United States Supreme Court's ruling
in Heck v. Humphrey.” ([108.1] at 3 (citing
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994))]. In
Heck, the Supreme Court held that, to recover
damages for harm caused by actions the unlawfulness of which
would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a Section 1983
plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been
reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order,
declared invalid by a state tribunal, or called into question
by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994).
acknowledges that Plaintiff was not “convicted”
under the Georgia Child Molestation statute, but he asserts
that Plaintiff should, nonetheless, be barred from recovering
damages under Section 1983 because Plaintiff's
“charges were not reversed or otherwise declared
invalid.” (Id. at 4). Plaintiff argues that
Heck does not apply because Plaintiff was never
convicted of a crime. In support of his position, Defendant
relies on Uboh v. Reno, 141 F.3d 1000 (11th Cir.
1998), and Roesch v. Otarola, 980 F.2d 850 (2d Cir.
Roesch, the Second Circuit found that a
plaintiff's participation in a pretrial intervention
program, which resulted in a dismissal of his criminal
charges, barred his subsequent Section 1983 claim because it
was not a termination in his favor. 980 F.2d at 853. In
McClish v. Nugent, 483 F.3d 1231, 1251 (11th Cir.
2007), the Eleventh Circuit expressly rejected
Roesch. In McClish, the plaintiff
participated in Florida's pretrial intervention program,
which resulted in a dismissal of his criminal charge. The
Eleventh Circuit, rejecting the district court's reliance
on Roesch, found that “the question is an
antecedent one, ” because “there was never a
conviction in the first place.” Id. To dismiss
the “§ 1983 claim as barred by Heck . . .
would stretch Heck beyond the limits of its
reasoning.” Id. at 1252 (citing Wallace v.
Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393 (2007) (characterizing a theory
to bar “an action which would impugn an anticipated
future conviction” as a “bizarre extension
of Heck”) (emphasis in
McClish, Plaintiff here was never convicted of the
charge on which he was wrongfully arrested and thus
Heck does not apply. Defendant's request to
exclude evidence relating to Plaintiff's alleged damages
First Appearance Hearing Held on February 23, 2011
next seeks to exclude evidence after a first appearance
hearing held on February 23, 2011. ([108.1] at 5, 13). The
Court has addressed this request in its Opinion and Order
dated April 14, 2017 , and Defendant's motion in
limine on this ground is denied.
Evidence Related to the “Ultimate Dismissal”
of the Charges
next seeks to bar Plaintiff from introducing “any
evidence related to the ultimate dismissal of the
charges.” ([108.1] at 8). Plaintiff agrees that if all
evidence after the indictment is excluded, then the dismissal
of his charges and his participation in a pretrial diversion
program should be excluded. ( at 11). Because the
damages can only be awarded through the date of the
indictment, the Court finds that evidence regarding the
indictment and the events after the indictment are excluded,
and the motion in limine on this ground is granted.
Evidence Related to ...