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Malibu Media, LLC v. Tashiro

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 14, 2015

KELLEY TASHIRO, N. CHARLES TASHIRO, Defendants. Jonathan LA Phillips, Movant.


MARK J. DINSMORE, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' first through seventh motions in limine. [Dkts. 170, 172, 173, 175, 176, 177 & 179.] For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendants' motions.

I. Background

Malibu Media, LLC ("Plaintiff") sued Charles and Kelley Tashiro ("Defendants"), alleging that Defendants had used a BitTorrent client to infringe Plaintiff's copyrights by uploading and/or downloading Plaintiff's copyrighted movies. [Dkt. 124 (Second Am. Compl.).] During discovery, Plaintiff moved for sanctions against Defendants on the grounds that Defendants had perjured themselves and had spoiled evidence by deleting files from Defendants' computer hard drives. [Dkts. 130 & 159.] The Court subsequently scheduled Plaintiff's motion for an evidentiary hearing before the undersigned Magistrate Judge. [Dkts. 165 & 167.] In advance of the hearing, Defendants filed seven motions in limine, [Dkts. 170, 172, 173, 175, 176, 177 & 179], all of which are now fully briefed.

II. Discussion

District courts have broad discretion in ruling on motions in limine. Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002). The purpose of such motions is "to prevent the risk of jury confusion or prejudice[.]" Intermatic Inc. v. Toeppen, No. 96 C 1982, 1998 WL 102702, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 28, 1998). A motion in limine should not be granted unless it appears that the evidence is "clearly inadmissible on all possible grounds.'" Casares v. Bernal, 790 F.Supp.2d 769, 775 (N.D. Ill. 2011) (quoting Anglin v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 139 F.Supp.2d 914, 917 (N.D.Ill.2001)). "Accordingly, in some instances it is best to defer rulings until trial, where decisions can be better informed by the context, foundation, and relevance of the contested evidence within the framework of the trial as a whole." Id.

A. First Motion in Limine

Defendants' first motion in limine seeks to preclude Tobias Fieser and Michael Patzer from testifying at the evidentiary hearing. [Dkt. 170 at 1.] Defendants assert that both men will testify as experts, but that Plaintiff violated Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2) by not properly disclosing their identity or proposed testimony. [Dkt. 171 at 1.]

At this point, it is unclear whether either proposed witness is an expert whose identity Plaintiff was required to disclose. Both men have previously submitted declarations indicating that they are employees or independent contractors of the company Plaintiff hired to investigate Defendants' alleged acts of infringement. [Dkt. 5-1 (Decl. of Tobias Fieser, February 4, 2013); Dkt. 73-13 (Decl. of Michael Patzer, February 5, 2014).] It is thus uncertain whether they will testify about matters that require expert qualifications or whether they will instead simply report on matters they observed during the course of their employment. As such, the Court will only be able to rule definitively on the matter after their testimony has been developed in the context of the hearing. See Casares, 790 F.Supp.2d at 775.

In addition, allowing Plaintiff to develop the testimony will not prejudice Defendants. As noted above, the purpose of a motion in limine is to protect the jury from confusion or inadmissible evidence. See, e.g., Intermatic, 1998 WL 102702, at *3. Because the evidentiary hearing in this case will occur before the Magistrate Judge-without a jury-the current proceedings present no such concerns. The Court accordingly DENIES Defendants' first motion in limine. [Dkt. 170.]

B. Second Motion in Limine

Plaintiff indicated in its list of potential witnesses that Brittany Snook will testify "that Malibu Media, LLC owns the copyrights to the works at issue." [Dkt. 169.] Defendants' second motion in limine, [Dkt. 172], seeks to preclude Snook from testifying on the grounds that her testimony is irrelevant. [ Id. at 1.]

Plaintiff asserts that Ms. Snook's testimony is relevant to the prejudice it suffered as a result of Defendants' alleged discovery misconduct, and again, the Court cannot definitively rule on this contention without evaluating the full extent of Ms. Snook's testimony in the context of the evidentiary hearing. See Casares, 790 F.Supp.2d at 775. If Ms. Snook's testimony is relevant, then the Court will consider it; if it is not relevant, then the Court will simply disregard it. See, e.g., Eli Lilly & Co. v. Teva Parenteral Medicines, Inc., No. 1:10-CV-01376-TWP-DKL, 2013 WL 3936210, at *1 (S.D. Ind. July 29, 2013) ("[W]here, as here, the proceeding is a bench trial, the court has leeway to ...

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