United States District Court, D. Delaware
JOHANNA ELAINE EVANS, Individually, and As Personal Representative of the Estate of ICOM HENRY EVANS, Deceased, and on Behalf of All Wrongful Death Beneficiaries, Plaintiff,
JOHN CRANE, INC., Defendant.
HONORABLE MARYELLEN NOREIKA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wilmington this 24th day of October 2019, the Court having
considered the parties' motions in limine (D.I.
291, 293, 294, 295),  IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: (1) plaintiff
Johanna Evans' (“Plaintiff”) motion in
limine to exclude discussion or reference to collateral
sources (D.I. 291) is granted-in-part; (2) defendant John
Crane, Inc.'s (“JCI”) motion in
limine to preclude references to evidence of
post-exposure documents (D.I. 294) is denied without
prejudice to renew; (3) JCI's motion in limine
to exclude evidence of survival damages (D.I. 295) is denied;
and (4) JCI's motion in limine to exclude
evidence of wrongful death nonpecuniary damages (D.I. 293) is
granted-in-part. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that JCI's request
for a bifurcated trial (D.I. 282 at 108) is denied.
Additionally, having considered JCI's Objections (D.I.
308) to Magistrate Judge Fallon's Memorandum Opinion
(“the Memorandum Opinion”) regarding the
testimony of Plaintiff's proffered expert, Captain Arnold
Moore (“Captain Moore”) (D.I. 284), IT IS STILL
FURTHER ORDERED that JCI's Objections are overruled.
Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Exclude
Discussion or Reference to Collateral
motion in limine to exclude discussion of or
reference to collateral sources is granted-in-part and
denied-in-part. Plaintiff moves to exclude evidence of the
following collateral sources: (1) Social Security and
pensions; (2) life insurance proceeds; (3) claims or awards
of disability benefits by any federal, state, or other
governmental agency; (4) services furnished without charge;
(5) benefits from hospitalization, medical or other
collateral insurance coverage; and (6) other settlements in
this case or any other form of compensation paid as a result
of Mr. Evans' mesothelioma cause of action, as well as
previous settlements. (D.I. 291 at 2). Plaintiff contends
that providing a jury with information regarding these
collateral benefits would allow the jury to draw an improper
inference that Plaintiff was previously compensated for the
injuries. (Id. at 2-3).
response, JCI argues that the collateral source rule does not
apply to settlements with joint tortfeasors or collateral
insurance coverage where the injured party did not bargain
for the benefit conferred. (D.I. 291 at 5-7). JCI further
contends that the collateral source rule cannot be applied to
preclude evidence regarding alternative sources of exposure
to asbestos, such as that involving previously-dismissed
collateral source rule is “designed to strike a balance
between two competing principles of tort law: (1) a plaintiff
is entitled to compensation sufficient to make him whole, but
no more; and (2) a defendant is liable for all damages that
proximately result from his wrong.” Stayton v. Del.
Health Corp., 117 A.3d 521, 526 (Del. 2015) (quoting
Mitchell v. Haldar, 883 A.2d 32, 38 (Del. 2005)).
The rule favors the plaintiff over the tortfeasor by
preventing a tortfeasor from reducing its damages because of
payments or compensation received by the injured plaintiff
from an independent source. Id. at 527. This rule is
“predicated on the theory that a tortfeasor has no
interest in, and therefore no right to benefit from monies
received by the injured person from sources unconnected with
the defendant.” Mitchell, 883 A.2d at 37-38.
“Due to the potentially prejudicial effect of such
evidence, the collateral source rule generally prohibits the
introduction of evidence regarding payments made to an
injured plaintiff from collateral sources.” Meals
v. Port Auth. Trans Hudson Corp., 622 Fed.Appx. 121, 125
(3d Cir. 2015) (citing Gladden v. P. Henderson &
Co., 385 F.2d 480, 483 (3d Cir. 1967)).
requests to exclude evidence of the first four categories
listed (Social Security and pensions; life insurance
proceeds; claims or awards of disability benefits by any
federal, state, or other governmental agency; and
“services furnished without charge”) are denied
as moot. JCI claims that Plaintiff produced no collateral
source evidence from such categories (D.I. 291 at 5 n.1) and
Plaintiff has not disputed that.
motion to exclude evidence in the fifth category -
i.e., benefits from hospitalization, medical, or
other collateral insurance coverage - is denied without
prejudice. JCI contends that the benefits received by Mr.
Evans were largely paid by Medicare, and notes that Medicare
benefits are exempt from the collateral source rule and
require a different analysis. (D.I. 291 at 8). The Delaware
Supreme Court has held that the collateral source rule does
not apply to Medicare write-offs, which “are not
payments made to or benefits conferred on the injured party,
” Stayton, 117 A.3d at 531 (reasoning that
amounts written off were “paid by no one, ” and
“[a]ny benefit . . . conferred in writing off [a
percentage of the charges] was conferred on federal
taxpayers, as a consequence of Medicare's purchasing
power.”). Thus, evidence of Medicare write-offs
received by Mr. Evans would be relevant and admissible at
trial. Because Plaintiff has not specified whether the
evidence of benefits from hospitalization, medical, or other
collateral insurance coverage includes Medicare write offs,
the Court denies Plaintiff's motion in limine on
this topic without prejudice to renew the motion with respect
to specific documents during the course of the trial.
motion to exclude previous settlements and other settlements
in this case, or any other form of compensation paid as a
result of Mr. Evans' mesothelioma cause of action is also
denied. The Delaware Code provides that a claim against a
joint tortfeasor may be reduced in accordance with the amount
paid by another joint tortfeasor in settling a claim:
A release by the injured person of 1 joint tortfeasor,
whether before or after judgment, does not discharge the
other tortfeasor unless the release so provides; but reduces
the claim against the other tortfeasors in the amount of the
consideration paid for the release, or in any amount or
proportion by which the release provides that the total claim
shall be reduced, if greater than the consideration paid.
10 Del. C. § 6304(a); see also Graham v.
Keene Corp., 616 A.2d 827, 828 (Del. 1992)
(acknowledging the set-off of compensatory damages for
asbestos-related injuries by the amounts received from
settling defendants, pursuant to 10 Del. C. §
6304). In accordance with 10 Del. C. § 6304(a),
evidence of previous settlements with joint tortfeasors is
necessary to determine the amount by which Plaintiff's
claim against JCI should be reduced.
Plaintiff also requests that the Court exclude copies of
pleadings which indicate the names or number of the parties
sued in this case. (D.I. 291 at 3). In response, JCI contends
that evidence of causation of Mr. Evans' injuries by
another party's products is relevant to this case. (D.I.
291 at 7). Plaintiff's motion to exclude copies of the
pleadings indicating the names or number of parties sued in
the case is granted. Plaintiff's motion is narrowly
tailored to exclude only copies of pleadings showing the
names and number of defendants sued in this case, and it does
not exclude evidence that the product of a party other than
JCI may have caused Mr. Evans' mesothelioma.
JCI's Motion in Limine to Preclude References to
Evidence of Post-Exposure Documents
moves to exclude evidence post-dating Mr. Evans' last
alleged work with a JCI product on May 17, 1965. (D.I. 294 at
1-5). It argues that evidence post-dating May 17, 1965 is
irrelevant to Mr. Evans' exposure to asbestos-containing
JCI products. (Id. at 3-4). JCI limits the scope of
its motion to the exclusion of: (1) corporate documents or
statements of JCI, including its corporate representatives;
and (2) materials related to the state-of-the-art of
asbestos. (D.I. 294 at 3, 30).
asks the Court to defer ruling on JCI's motion in
limine, alleging that the motion is premature and
overbroad because it fails to identify the specific documents
and information JCI seeks to exclude. (D.I. 294 at 25).
Plaintiff also contends that evidence post-dating Mr.
Evans' exposure may be relevant and admissible to
establish causation and the dangers of JCI's products, to
impeach JCI's contentions regarding the safety of its
products, to show the feasibility of precautionary measures,
and to show JCI's intentional disregard of the dangers of
asbestos. (Id. at 26). Plaintiff suggests ...