Filing a Motion in Limine to Exclude Arguments that the Subject Incident did not Occur
In both civil and criminal lawsuits, a motion in limine can be filed at pre-trial hearings or during trial. A motion in limine is a motion, discussed outside of the presence of a jury to request that certain testimony be excluded. Common motions in limine include asking a judge to refuse to admit into evidence personal information, criminal records, financial records or medical records. Motions in limine can be used at both the state and federal level.
In this blog, we will take a look at how one could apply the law when filing a motion in limine to exclude a defendant’s arguments that the incident which caused a plaintiff’s injury did not occur.
Rule 701 and Case Examples
According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 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’s perception;
(b) helpful to clearly understanding the witness’s 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.
In Bridgen v. Scott, the court ruled that:
Courts refuse to allow “[v]ague, self-serving speculative testimony concerning what a party would have done under different circumstances.”
In addition, in Washington v. Dep’t of Transp, the court ruled that:
These courts reason that what might have happened in other, hypothetical circumstances was speculative and not rationally based on the party’s perception, and thus impermissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 701.
And in Gramanz v. T-Shirts & Souvenirs:
A verdict may not be based on speculation, whether the testimony comes from a lay witness or an expert.
Furthermore, attorneys cannot make statements to the jury that are not grounded in fact and evidence. See Gilster v. Primebank:
“The cardinal rule of closing argument is that counsel must confine comments to evidence in the record and to reasonable inferences from that evidence.”
Testimony and argument that the subject incident did not occur is improper and speculative if evidence produced from both defendant and plaintiffs demonstrate the incident did, in fact, occur. If a defendant cannot provide evidence that the subject incident did not occur, and makes any argument or testimony questioning that the subject incident didn’t occur, it would be pure speculation, intended solely to cause the jury to speculate and should be excluded from testimony.