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Maley v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

July 11, 2019

BELINDA LEE MALEY, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Matthew Clinton Loflin, deceased; and GENE LOFLIN, individually; Plaintiffs,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., a Delaware Corporation; CORIZON, LLC, a Missouri Limited Liability Company; CHATHAM COUNTY, a Georgia County; ROY HARRIS; ESTATE OF AL ST. LAWRENCE; JOHN WILCHER, individually and in his official capacity as Jail Administrator; SCOTT KENNEDY, M.D.; ADAMAR GONZALEZ, M.D.; and VIRGINIA O'NEILL; Defendants.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. JUDGE

         Before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine (Doc. 118) and Second Motion in Limine (Doc. 121) . In their motions, Plaintiffs contest a variety of proposed exhibits[1] that Defendants have suggested may be used at trial in this case. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' motions are GRANTED IN PART, DENIED IN PART and DEFERRED IN PART.[2]

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the incarceration and subsequent death of Matthew Loflin from congestive heart failure at the Chatham County Detention Center ("CCDC") while in the care of Defendant Corizon Health Inc. ("Corizon"). (Doc. 1.) After his death, Loflin's mother, Plaintiff Brenda Maley, brought suit individually and on behalf of the Estate of Matthew Loflin. (Id.) In an amended complaint, Loflin's father, Plaintiff Gene Loflin, subsequently joined suit in his individual capacity. (Doc. 92.) In the amended complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants Dr. Scott Kennedy and Corizon were deliberately indifferent to Loflin's critical medical needs while detained at the CCDC. (Id.) Plaintiffs have filed this action seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged deliberate indifference to Loflin's medical needs and his subsequent wrongful death. (Id.) As a result of this Court granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motions for summary judgment, Plaintiffs' deliberate indifference and corresponding wrongful death claims remain against both Defendant Kennedy and Defendant Corizon. (Doc. 103.)

         Trial has been scheduled in this case for July 15, 2019. In preparation for trial, Plaintiffs have filed two motions in limine, seeking to exclude many of Defendants' proposed exhibits. (Doc. 118; Doc. 121.) Because Plaintiffs have challenged a variety of Defendants' exhibits, the Court will discuss each challenge below.

         ANALYSIS

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "The real purpose of a Motion In Limine is to give the trial judge notice of the movant's position so as to avoid the introduction of damaging evidence, which may irretrievably affect the fairness of the trial." Stewart v. Hooters of Am., Inc., No. 8: 04-CV-40-T17-MAP, 2007 WL 1752873, at *1 (M.D. Fla. June 18, 2007). "The court excludes evidence on a Motion In Limine only if the evidence is clearly inadmissible for any purpose." Id. "Accordingly, if evidence is not clearly inadmissible, evidentiary rulings must be deferred until trial to allow questions of foundation, relevancy, and prejudice to be resolved in context." Id. (citation and emphasis omitted).

         In this case, Plaintiffs focus the gravamen of their briefing on challenges to the relevancy of many of Defendants' proposed exhibits. For evidence to be relevant, it must "hav[e] any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." Fed.R.Evid. 401. While relevant evidence is generally admissible, the "evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence." Fed.R.Evid. 403.

         II. Defendants' Proposed Exhibit 13

         Defendants' Proposed Exhibit 13 is a 2-page document detailing all of Matthew Loflin's medical expenses. (Doc. 118 at 2.) Plaintiffs contend that this exhibit is inadmissible under the collateral source rule. (Id. at 2-5.) Plaintiffs argue that Defendant Kennedy did not pay for any of the medical expenses in this case and, therefore, cannot offer evidence that Loflin's medical expenses were paid by a third party. (Id.)

         The collateral source rule "gives [a plaintiff] the right to recover damages undiminished by collateral benefits. It refuses credit to the benefit of a tortfeasor of money or services received by the plaintiff in reparation of the injury or damage caused which emanate from sources other than the tortfeasor." ML Healthcare Servs., LLC v. Publix Super Mkts., Inc., 881 F.3d 1293, 1298 (11th Cir. 2018). In this case, however, the collateral source rule does not appear to bar the admission of Defendants' Exhibit 13.

         The collateral source rule is designed to prevent parties from introducing evidence that a plaintiff is entitled to less recovery because a third party paid for some of the plaintiff's medical expenses. According to Defendants, however, Exhibit 13 offers no evidence that a collateral source or third party to this action paid for Loflin's medical bills. (Doc. 122 at 3-4.) Instead, Defendants assert that the medical bills detailed in the exhibit simply detail the various expenses incurred on Loflin's behalf and which expenses were paid by Defendant Corizon, not a third party. (Id.) If Defendants' description is true, these expenses would be directly relevant to the potential recovery in this case and would not show that a third party paid for any of these expenses on Loflin's behalf. Accordingly, there would be no collateral source issue in this case. Because the parties have not provided this exhibit for the Court's review, however, the Court must defer ruling on this issue until trial.

         III. Defendants' Proposed Exhibit 22

         Defendants' Proposed Exhibit 22 contains an affidavit in which Plaintiff Belinda Maley swears to her legal relationship with Matthew Loflin, an authorization to disclose his health information, and an authorization for an attorney to receive Loflin's medical records. (Doc. 118 at 5.) Plaintiffs contend that this exhibit is irrelevant to the issues in this case and may potentially be offered simply to show the jury that an attorney was consulted within one month of Loflin's death. (Id. at 5-6.) In response, Defendants have agreed to exclude this exhibit. (Doc. 122 at 4.) Accordingly, Defendants will not be permitted to use this exhibit at trial.

         IV. Defendants' Proposed Exhibit 26

         Defendants' Proposed Exhibit 26 is a copy of Chatham County's Request for Proposal for Health Services at the CCDC. (Doc. 118 at 6.) This document shows Chatham County's bid requirements for the bid that eventually resulted in a contract with Defendant Corizon for the provision of healthcare services at the CCDC. (Id.) Plaintiffs contend that this exhibit is not relevant to any of the facts or issues in this case. (Id. at 6-7.) In response, Defendants contend that this document is relevant because it shows Chatham County's expectations for the services to be provided by Defendant Corizon. (Doc. 122 at 4-5.) Defendants assert that this information is directly relevant to Plaintiffs' argument that Defendant Corizon made decisions with respect to Loflin's care in order to save money. (Id.)

         After a careful review, this Court is inclined to agree with Defendants. Without the context of trial, however, this Court is unable to fully make a determination as to whether this exhibit is relevant to the issues that will be presented at trial. At this time, the Court defers ruling on Plaintiffs' request to exclude this exhibit. Plaintiffs may raise this issue at trial if necessary.

         V. Defendants' ...


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