United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING
PLAINTIFFS' MOTION IN LIMINE
N. Parrish United States District Court Judge.
matter comes before the court on the motion in limine filed
by plaintiffs Trudy Hemingway, Daniel McGuire, Michael
McGuire, and Aaron Christensen on November 8, 2018. (ECF No.
93). Defendants Christopher McHugh and Daniel Bartlett
responded on November 15, 2018. (ECF No. 103). The court
heard oral argument on this motion at the final pretrial
conference on November 30, 2018. For the reasons below,
plaintiffs' motion is granted.
motion in limine asks the court, in essence, to reaffirm the
validity of Rule 408 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which
Evidence of the following is not admissible - on behalf of
any party - either to prove or disprove the validity or
amount of a disputed claim or to impeach by a prior
inconsistent statement or a contradiction:
(1) furnishing, promising, or offering - or accepting,
promising to accept, or offering to accept - a valuable
consideration in compromising or attempting to compromise the
(2) conduct or a statement made during compromise
negotiations about the claim - except when offered in a
criminal case and when the negotiations related to a claim by
a public office in the exercise of its regulatory,
investigative, or enforcement authority.
fail, as required by the trial order, to certify that they
have met and conferred with defendants in an attempt to
obviate the necessity of this motion. This omission is
notable in light of plaintiffs' complete failure to frame
the disputed evidence. They merely explain that they have
settled claims against defendants, and that they have engaged
in settlement negotiations with the remaining defendants.
They appear to argue that those facts alone ought to compel
this court to exclude all settlement-related evidence at the
this is overly simplistic. That settlement has occurred
between certain of the parties, or that settlement
negotiations have been conducted does not suffice to obtain a
pretrial ruling that related evidence is categorically
excluded. Indeed, settlement negotiations are likely to have
occurred in virtually every case that goes to trial.
defendants point out, Rule 408 only bars settlement evidence
if it is offered to prove or disprove the validity or amount
of a disputed claim, or to impeach by a prior inconsistent
statement made during settlement negotiations. Fed.R.Evid.
408. If offered for another purpose, Rule 408 does not
prohibit the admission of settlement evidence.
response suggests two potential uses of settlement-related
evidence, neither of which, they argue, runs afoul of Rule
408. First, they contend that they are entitled to introduce
evidence of plaintiffs' settlement with the Unified
Police Department (the “UPD”) defendants to show
that it was the UPD, rather than Messrs. McHugh and Bartlett,
who were responsible for the harm caused by the search.
Second, they submit that evidence of that settlement can
properly be used to demonstrate that plaintiffs'
testimony is biased.
even if these purposes are not prohibited by Rule 408,
evading that bar does not render settlement evidence
automatically admissible. Such evidence remains subject to
the remaining rules of evidence, including the rules
governing relevance. “Evidence is relevant if: (a) it
has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it
would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of
consequence in determining the action.” Fed.R.Evid.
401. And relevant evidence may nevertheless be excluded
“if its probative value is substantially outweighed by
a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice,
confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay,
wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative
evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 403.
explained below, what minimal probative value the settlement
agreement may have is substantially outweighed by the risk of
confusing the jury and engendering unfair prejudice. As a
result, plaintiffs' motion in limine is granted, and
neither the fact of settlement nor the related evidence will
be admitted at trial.
court assumes, without deciding, that the defendants may
deduct the amount of the UPD settlement from any recovery the
plaintiffs obtain via jury award so as to avoid double
recovery. After dispensing with ...