United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS IN LIMINE
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on three motions in
limine filed by Defendants Gaming Entertainment
(Indiana), LLC d/b/a Rising Star Casino Resort, and Full
House Resorts, Inc. d/b/a Rising Star Casino Resort
(collectively, “Rising Star”), in particular,
Motion in Limine to Exclude Lay Opinion Testimony of
Stephanie Blevins (Filing No. 59), Motion in
Limine to Limit Plaintiff's Testimony (Filing
No. 60), and Motion in Limine to Prevent
Introduction of Incident Reports for Prior Accidents
(Filing No. 61). Blevins has not responded to the
Motions in Limine. For the following reasons, Rising
Star's Motions in Limine are either
granted and denied.
lawsuit concerns Blevins' fall from a stool while
gambling at Rising Star's casino and her subsequent
injury. Blevins alleges Rising Star was negligent in failing
to take steps to protect her, an invitee, from being injured
due to a dangerous stool or stools on their property. At the
time of the incident, Blevins's daughter, Stephanie
Blevins (“Stephanie”), was accompanying her at
the casino, but Stephanie testified that she did not see what
caused her mother to fall as it was happening. Following the
incident, Blevins filed this action and the matter is
schedule for trial on July 29, 2019. Blevins' Final
Exhibit List includes fourteen (14) incident reports
associated with other injuries incurred at Rising Star's
casino. (Filing No. 40.) The incident reports
“detail incidents in which other guests of the
Defendant casino fell while using stools provided by the
casino.” (Filing No. 61 at 4.) Rising Star
seeks to limit and exclude testimony and evidence related to
the following matters.
Motion In Limine To Exclude Lay Opinion Testimony Of
Stephanie Blevins (Filing No. 59)
time of the incident, Blevins's daughter, Stephanie, had
accompanied her to the casino; however, Stephanie testified
in deposition that she did not see what caused her mother to
fall as it was happening. Rising Star seeks to exclude the
unsupported and uncorroborated lay opinions of Stephanie,
regarding the issue of causation. (Filing No. 59.)
In support of its Motion, Rising Star argues that despite not
seeing what caused her mother to fall, Stephanie offered an
opinion of the “style” or design defects of the
stool that allegedly caused the fall. Id. at 3.
Rising Star argues that Stephanie did not personally witness
her mother fall, therefore, her testimony does not comply
with Federal Rule of Evidence 602. Id. at 2.
Rule 602, a witness may only testify to a matter of which she
has personal knowledge. Evidence to prove personal knowledge
may consist of the witness' own testimony. Rising Star
alleges that Stephanie has no reliable basis for her opinion
regarding the stool or its design. Id. at 4. Under
Federal Rule of Evidence 701, if a witness is not testifying
as an expert, testimony in the form of an opinion is limited
to one that is: (a) rationally based on the witness'
perception; (b) helpful to clearly understand the
witness' testimony or to determining a fact in issue; and
(c) not based on scientific, technical, or other specialized
knowledge within the scope of Rule 702.
asked, “Other than the style of the chair, did you
observe anything about the chair that appeared to be
defective in any way?” Stephanie answered,
“No.” Id. at 3. When asked, “Did
you personally, observe any indication of the chair being
loose in any way?” Stephanie answered, “I
don't remember looking at the chair like in depth looking
for issues of the chair. I was concerned about my mom.”
Id. Finally, when asked “So you don't have
any personal knowledge of the stool being loose at
all?” Stephanie answered, “No I do not.”
Id. at 3. (See Stephanie Blevins' Depo.
P 13 L 23 - P 15 L12.)
testimony demonstrates that she did not personally witness
the fall or inspect the chair after the fall occurred.
Because she lacks personal knowledge of the relevant facts,
she is not qualified to give lay testimony under Rule 602.
For that reason, Rising Star's Motion in Limine
to Exclude Lay Opinion Testimony of Stephanie Blevins
(Filing No. 59) is granted. The
Court will exclude Stephanie's testimony at trial as it
relates to alleged design or style defects to the stool
Blevins was sitting on.
Motion to limit Blevins' Testimony (Filing No.
Star anticipates that Blevins will offer testimony or
argument that the stool she was seated on was
“wobbly” or “unstable.” Id.
at 2. It seeks to limit and/or preclude testimony or argument
regarding the condition of the stool at the time of the
incident because no evidence has been presented demonstrating
the stool was in fact, “wobbly” or
“unstable” at any time prior to the fall.
(Filing No. 60.) When asked if she noticed the stool
to be “wobbly” before sitting on it, Blevins
admits she did not. Id. at 3. Rising Star argues
Blevins' belief that the stool was faulty and
“wobbly” or “unstable” occurred after
the chair had fallen to the floor. Id. at 4. They
contend testimony regarding the nature of the stool after the
incident had already occurred could prejudice the jury.
Federal Rule of Evidence 602, a witness may testify to a
matter only if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a
finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the
matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may consist of
the witness' own testimony. Blevins stated that the stool
was faulty and that it was “very wobbly.”
Id. at 2. When asked, “… di[d] you,
personally, see or observe the chair to be wobbly?”
Blevins answered, “No.” Id. at 3. And
when asked, “… The description that you provided
of the chair being very wobbly, … is that based on the
fact that you fell when you sat in it?” Ms. Blevins
answered. “Yes.” Id.
may be inconsistencies in how Blevins described the stool,
however those inconsistencies go toward the weight and not
admissibility of this evidence. Court finds that Blevins
possessed the personal knowledge required to comply with Rule
602. Blevins' testimony that the stool was wobbly is
based on how the stool felt when she sat on it and when she
fell off of it. The Rules of Evidence allow Blevins to
testify about her experiences as she perceived them.
that reason, Rising Star's Motion in Limine to
Limit Plaintiff's ...