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Hinson v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

July 3, 2019

THOMAS HINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ORDER

          VIRCMNIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of Defendant United States of America's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. # 39) and Motion in Limine (Doc. # 41). Plaintiff Thomas Hinson responded in opposition to the Motions. (Doc. ## 40, 42). For the reasons that follow, the Motions are denied.

         I. Background

         Hinson initiated this Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) case against the United States on June 21, 2018. (Doc. # 1). This case involves a car accident between Hinson and a U.S. Postal Service vehicle in 2016, in which Hinson was allegedly injured. (Id.). The United States filed its Answer on August 27, 2018. (Doc. # 11).

         The case proceeded through discovery. On February 21, 2019, the United States moved to strike Hinson's expert disclosures, including those relating to three of Hinson's treating physicians: Dr. Heldreth, Dr. Bansal, and Dr. Weber. (Doc. # 30). After the motion to strike was filed, Hinson served his amended expert disclosures. (Doc. # 39-4). But the United States still maintained these amended disclosures were insufficient. (Doc. # 34).

         On April 18, 2019, the Magistrate Judge granted the United States' motion to strike. (Doc. # 36). The Magistrate Judge gave Hinson an opportunity to amend his disclosures for the various treating physicians. The Order specified that Hinson “should clarify whether each non-retained treating expert will testify only on opinions formed during their treatment of [] Hinson. If these physicians will testify based on facts learned outside their treatment relationship with [] Hinson, then [] Hinson must provide the information required under Rule 26(a)(2)(b).” (Id. at 8). The Order stated that “Hinson's amended disclosures provide adequate detail as to Dr. Bansal's and Dr. Weber's opinions and supporting facts” but also directed Hinson to “clarify that Dr. Bansal and Dr. Weber will testify only on opinions formed during their treatment of [] Hinson.” (Id. at 7). Regarding Dr. Heldreth, the Order explained that Hinson's amended disclosures “failed to provide an adequate summary of the specific facts and opinions to which Dr. Heldreth . . . [is] expected to testify.” (Id.).

         Hinson turned over his second amended disclosures on April 25, 2019. (Doc. # 39-5). Hinson disclosed that he intends for three treating physicians - Dr. Heldreth, Dr. Bansal, and Dr. Weber - to offer opinions about the causation of his injuries. Specifically, regarding Dr. Heldreth, the second amended disclosures state in relevant part: “It is anticipated that, based only upon his examination and treatment of [Hinson], Dr. Heldreth will opine that the care and treatment provided at Total Vitality Medical Group for those injuries was reasonable, necessary and related to the motor vehicle collision.” (Id. at 3).

         Regarding Dr. Bansal, the second amended disclosures state in relevant part: “It is anticipated that, based only upon his examination and treatment of [Hinson], Dr. Bansal will opine that: [Hinson] suffered personal injuries to his right shoulder and right knee as a direct result of the subject incident; [Hinson] suffered aggravation of preexisting medical arthritic condition of his right knee as a direct result of the subject incident; . . . [and] the care and treatment [Hinson] received by Dr. Bansal for those injuries and aggravations were reasonable, necessary and related to the injuries sustained in the motor vehicle collision.” (Id. at 5-6). Finally, regarding Dr. Weber, the second amended disclosures state in relevant part: “It is anticipated that, based only upon his examination and treatment of [Hinson], Dr. Weber will opine that: [Hinson] suffered personal injuries to his cervical spine and lumbar spine as a direct result of the subject incident, including but not limited to cervical myelopathy and is at risk for a devastating neurologic injury; . . . [and] the care and treatment [Hinson] received by Dr. Weber for those injuries were reasonable, necessary and related to the spinal injuries sustained in the motor vehicle collision.” (Id. at 8-9).

         Now, the United States moves for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether Hinson's injuries were caused by the car accident. (Doc. # 39). In support, the United States contends that Hinson's second amended disclosures are insufficient to allow his treating physicians to opine on causation and that Hinson has no other evidence in support of causation. (Id.). The United States has also filed a Motion in Limine, seeking to prevent Dr. Heldreth, Dr. Bansal, and Dr. Weber “from providing expert testimony that [Hinson's] injuries are causally related to the motor vehicle accident . . . and to prevent any of [Hinson's] treating physician experts from offering any testimony which is based upon information provided to them in anticipation of litigation or trial.” (Doc. # 41 at 1).

         Hinson has responded to both Motions (Doc. ## 40, 42), and the Motions are ripe for review.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Motion in Limine

         “A motion in limine presents a pretrial issue of admissibility of evidence that is likely to arise at trial, and as such, the order, like any other interlocutory order, remains subject to reconsideration by the court throughout the trial.” In re Seroquel Prods. Liab. Litig., Nos. 6:06- md-1769-Orl-22DAB, 6:07-cv-15733-Orl-22DAB, 2009 WL 260989, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 4, 2009). “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 effect the fairness of the trial.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). “A court has the power to exclude evidence in limine only when evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         “A motion in limine is not the proper vehicle to resolve substantive issues, to test issues of law, or to address or narrow the issues to be tried.” LSQ Funding Grp. v. EDS Field Servs., 879 F.Supp.2d 1320, 1337 (M.D. Fla. 2012)(citing Royal Indem. Co. v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., No. 07-80172- CIV, 2008 WL 2323900, at *1 (S.D. Fla. June 5, 2008)). “Denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted at trial.” In re Seroquel, 2009 WL 260989, at *1 (internal quotation marks omitted). “Instead, denial of the motion means the court cannot determine whether the evidence in question should be excluded outside the trial ...


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