United States District Court, S.D. Florida
JOHN O. HUDDLESTON, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE
L. ROSENBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Amended Motion
for Summary Judgment [DE 33] and Plaintiff's Motion in
Limine [DE 28]. The Motions have been fully briefed. The
Court has carefully considered the Motions, Defendant's
Responses thereto [DE 45 and 40-1], and the record, and is
otherwise fully advised in the premises. For the reasons set
forth below, the Amended Motion for Summary Judgment is
denied, and the Motion in Limine is denied without prejudice.
Amended Motion for Summary Judgment
moves for summary judgment on the issue of liability, arguing
that the vehicle accident at issue was a rear-end collision
and that there is no evidence that he, the driver of the
front vehicle, was at fault. Summary judgment is appropriate
where “the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). If
the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to a
material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to
come forward with specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. Shaw v. City of Selma, 884
F.3d 1093, 1098 (11th Cir. 2018).
factual dispute is ‘material' if it would affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law, and
‘genuine' if a reasonable trier of fact could
return judgment for the non-moving party.”
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. United
States, 516 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2008). When
deciding a summary judgment motion, a court views the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's
favor. Furcron v. Mail Ctrs. Plus, LLC, 843 F.3d
1295, 1304 (11th Cir. 2016). The court does not weigh
conflicting evidence or make credibility determinations.
Court applies Florida's substantive law on negligence to
this action brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
See Creekmore v. United States, 905 F.2d 1508, 1510
(11th Cir. 1990) (“The Federal Tort Claims Act requires
us to apply state law to determine the substantive liability
of the United States.”). Under Florida law,
“there is a rebuttable presumption of negligence that
attaches to the rear driver in a rear-end motor vehicle
collision case.” Birge v. Charron, 107 So.3d
350, 353 (Fla. 2012). The fact presumed “is that the
rear driver's negligence was the sole proximate
cause” of the collision. Id. at 359 (quotation
marks omitted). This presumption is rebutted and
“vanishes and loses its legal effect” if evidence
is produced from which a jury could conclude that the front
driver was negligent and comparatively at fault in causing
the collision. Id. at 359-61. When the presumption
is rebutted “all issues of disputed fact regarding
negligence and causation should be submitted to the jury to
make a finding of fault without the aid of the
presumption.” Id. at 360.
driver's sudden, illegal, or improper stop may rebut the
presumption. Seibert v. Riccucci, 84 So.3d 1086,
1088 (Fla. 5th Dist. Ct. App. 2012). The rear driver has a
duty to remain alert, follow at a safe distance, and be
prepared to stop suddenly. Id. at 1088-89. But the
front driver may be held comparatively negligent where his
stop was unexpected, abrupt and arbitrary, and in a place not
to be reasonably expected. Wright v. Ring Power
Corp., 834 So.2d 329, 331 (Fla. 5th Dist. Ct. App.
2003); see also Birge, 107 So.3d at 359 (indicating
that the presumption would apply if the front driver was
stopped for a traffic light or at an intersection).
Defendant has come forward with evidence to rebut the
presumption that Ginger Lee Velez, the rear driver who was a
Postal Service employee, was the sole proximate cause of the
collision. Ms. Velez testified that Plaintiff was traveling
in front of her and that neither his break lights nor his
turn signals were lit. DE 47-2 at 12-13. She glanced down
“for a second” and, when she looked up, his break
lights were lit and she swerved in an attempt to avoid him.
Id. at 12-13. She testified that they were not at an
intersection at the time. Id. at 14. Plaintiff
testified that he was stopped at the time of the collision.
DE 47-1 at 68-69. This evidence permits a conclusion that
Plaintiff's stop was unexpected, abrupt and arbitrary,
and in a place not reasonably expected.
evidence creates a genuine issue of material fact as to the
apportionment of liability for the collision. Plaintiff's
Amended Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.
Motion in Limine
Motion in Limine seeks the exclusion of three categories of
evidence. First, he moves to exclude as irrelevant any prior
criminal convictions over ten years old. Evidence of a prior
felony conviction “must be admitted subject to Rule
403, in a civil case, ” while evidence of a prior
non-felony conviction “must be admitted if the court
can readily determine that establishing the elements of the
crime required proving-or the witness's admitting-a
dishonest act or false statement.” Fed.R.Evid. 609(a).
However, where more than 10 years have passed since the
witness's conviction or release from confinement,
evidence of the conviction is admissible only if “its
probative value, supported by specific facts and
circumstances, substantially outweighs its prejudicial
effect” and the proponent of the evidence gives
reasonable written notice of intent to use the evidence.
has provided absolutely no information, much less any
“specific facts and circumstances, ” from which
the Court can evaluate whether any prior conviction is
admissible. See Id. Plaintiff's motion fails to
even identify any particular prior conviction. Thus, this
first request is denied without prejudice to be re-raised at
trial if Defendant attempts to admit a prior conviction.
Plaintiff moves to exclude any employment or wage evidence
because he is not asserting a wage loss claim. For the
reasons identified in Defendant's Response to the Motion
in Limine, this evidence may be relevant to issues such as
Plaintiff's credibility and truthfulness. See DE
40-1 at 3. This second request is denied without prejudice to
be re-raised at trial in the context of specific evidence.
Plaintiff moves to exclude hearsay statements in general. The
Court, in its Trial Order, advised the parties that motions
in limine requesting compliance with the Federal Rules of
Evidence are improper. See DE 5 at 12. This third
request is denied without prejudice to be re-raised at trial
in the ...