In limine in limerick – Bossier v State Farm

A  lawyer by the name of Guice
has tried to play fair and be nice
but when State Farm raised her ire
she grabbed their personal voir dire
and asked the Court for ice.

If you recall State Farm puts the Court to the test in Bossier – files nine motions in limine UPDATED and the subsequent court order denying Bossier’s consent motion for an extension,  reported in a recent SLABBED Daily, you may find Bossier’s motion in limine as interesting as I did – and, yes, Bossier filed just one but counsel did indeed meet the Court’s deadline!

Plaintiff, by and through counsel of record…would request that this Honorable Court rule in advance of the trial excluding from evidence the following matters and directing counsel and their witnesses to not elicit testimony, argument, or evidence, directly or indirectly, regarding the following matters…

The first matter has been around the block so often, it shouldn’t be necessary to ask the Court to once again exclude testimony, argument, or evidence, directly or indirectly, regarding Bossier’s MDA grant; and, the second, to likewise exclude mention of the the Bossier’s SBA loan.  In fact, according to a footnote, Bossier attempted to avoid asking the Court to once again rule on these matter:

Counsel for Plaintiff has requested a stipulation from counsel for Defendant relating to the MDA/SBA evidence issues, in accordance with this Court’s prior rulings, in order to avoid the necessity of filing this motion. Counsel for Defendant has not responded to same. Moreover, as counsel for Plaintiff has still not received Defendant’s pre-trial inserts, it is unknown whether Defendant intends to introduce this evidence at trial. (emphasis added)

Bossier’s counsel has obviously seen Defendant’s counsel in action in other cases and the third matter the Court is asked to exclude is Personal Statements of Counsel during Voir Dire, Opening Statements and the like.

State Farm attorney John Banahan and other members of his firm are known to interject personal comments about themselves and their family members during voir dire, opening statement, and similar times. For example, during the Broussard and Gemmill cases, Mr. Banahan discussed during voir dire his wife’s kind-hearted nature and her disapproval of his representation of State Farm.

Bossier’s counsel thoughtfully included a page from the transcript of  Broussard v State Farm as an exhibit.

I want to talk a little bit about what Mr. Banahan shared with you yesterday.  We have all been through a very trying ordeal with Hurricane Katrina, and his fears are the same as my fears.  I think you could gather from his voir dire that our office was flooded and is now gone…

What caught my eye, however, was the first sentence in the paragraph that followed:

I want to look a little bit at the policy…

Bossier’s counsel was wise to include this matter in the motion.  Likewise, State Farm’s counsel would be wise to look more than just a “little bit” at the policy and save the “sharing” for the next State Farm revival.

Of course, Bossier didn’t have a flood policy and that meant there was no place to dump the claim other than Judge Senter’s lap – which brings us to the fourth matter

On August 31, 2009, State Farm paid policy limits of Mr. Bossier’s dwelling extension. Enclosed with the check was a letter from Jim Newman, previously unidentified State Farm employee, who set forth a factual scenario designed to paint the payment in the light most favorable to State Farm.

The letter is hearsay and should be excluded. Moreover, it contains double, triple, and even quadruple hearsay, matters which Mr. Newman has no personal knowledge of. Much of this hearsay is untrue…

Mr. Newman has never been identified as a witness in this litigation and hence has never been available to be deposed. He has no personal knowledge of the matters relayed in the letter…

If the letter had any probative value, which it does not, then such weak value would be outweighed by issues of undue prejudice, confusion of the issues, and misleading the jury. Hence, the letter should be excluded under Rule 403 as well.

Lastly, Bossier’s counsel reserves the right to protect Plaintiff’s rights.

The pre-trial order in this matter is due to the Court on October 7. Counsel for Plaintiff provided counsel for Defendant with Plaintiff’s proposed pre-trial inserts on September 4, 2009. As of the time of filing these motions, counsel for Plaintiff has not yet received Defendant’s pre-trial inserts nor has she received any indication from counsel for Defendant as to when same will be sent. Accordingly, it is unknown what evidence State Farm intends to offer at the trial of this matter. Protection of Plaintiff’s rights may require counsel for Plaintiff to seek leave to file
a belated motion in limine as to any matters concerning which a contemporaneous objection would not be sufficient.

A  lawyer by the name of Guice
has tried to play fair and be nice
but when State Farm raised her ire
she grabbed their personal voir dire
and asked the Court for ice.

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