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BEGZAD v. HEDRICK

August 12, 2005.

EASA BEGZAD, Plaintiff,
v.
KENNETH HEDRICK and KEITH BRYAN, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: THELTON HENDERSON, Senior District Judge

ORDER RE: MOTIONS IN LIMINE

After carefully considering the parties' written arguments and finding oral argument to be unnecessary, the Court hereby rules on the parties' motions in limine as follows:

Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony on Probable Cause by Dr. Freed

  Plaintiff argues that Defendants' proposed expert, Dr. Roger Freed, is not qualified to testify on probable cause because he lacks police training. Plaintiff further argues that Dr. Freed's testimony on probable cause would be cumulative of testimony from Defendants' other proposed expert, Don Cameron, and that allowing two experts to testify on probable cause would be unfairly prejudicial. The Court rejects both arguments. First, Dr. Freed is a board-certified psychiatrist with experience in applying California Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150, the code section under which Defendants detained Plaintiff. Thus, his lack of training as a police officer does not preclude him from giving expert testimony on probable cause in the 5150 context. Second, although Defendants have designated both Dr. Freed and Mr. Cameron as experts, the Court does not find their anticipated testimony to be needlessly cumulative because they will offer testimony from different perspectives — Dr. Freed based on his medical background and Mr. Cameron based on his police training. Such testimony would also not unfairly prejudice Plaintiff, and the highly probative nature of Dr. Freed's anticipated testimony outweighs any prejudice Plaintiff may claim from having two experts testify on probable cause. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion to exclude testimony by Dr. Freed is DENIED.

  Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Evidence Not Produced by Defendants Re: Witnesses Carmen Gonzalez and Abdullah Alcozy

  Plaintiff seeks to exclude any evidence regarding Plaintiff's witnesses Carmen Gonzalez and Abdullah Alcozy that Defendants failed to produce during discovery, claiming unfair prejudice. Defendants respond that they have produced all evidence on which they intend to rely during their case in chief, and any undisclosed evidence relates only to possible impeachment of the witnesses or rebuttal. The Court finds it inappropriate to grant this motion in advance of a concrete issue arising at trial. Thus, this motion is DENIED without prejudice. If Defendants attempt to introduce at trial any evidence that has not been disclosed during discovery regarding witnesses Gonzalez and Alcozy, Plaintiff may renew his objection at that time. The Court cannot rule on evidentiary issues arising in the abstract, nor can the Court determine in the abstract whether evidence should have been produced during discovery.

  Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Evidence Re: Prior Lease Violations, Angry Telephone Conversation, and Rumored Prior Suicide

  Plaintiff seeks to exclude any evidence regarding lease violations when Plaintiff rented commercial property from Sherman and Sandy Balch, an angry telephone conversation Plaintiff had with Sandy Fresno, and a rumor of a prior suicide at one of the Balches' properties. Plaintiff argues that such evidence is irrelevant and, even if relevant, should be excluded because it would cause unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, and undue delay. In addition, Plaintiff argues that testimony by Fresno about an alleged prior suicide is also hearsay. However, the Court agrees with Defendants that all of the disputed evidence is relevant as to Plaintiff's and Fresno's state of mind, and that the rumored prior suicide would not be hearsay because the statement would not be admitted for the truth of the matter asserted. Such evidence may also be relevant as impeachment evidence if, as Defendants anticipate, Plaintiff will testify that he was not in violation of his lease terms prior to the July 31, 2002 termination of the lease. Lastly, the Court finds no merit to Plaintiff's argument that any of the evidence would cause undue delay, prejudice, or confusion of the issues. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

  Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Evidence Re: Prior Personal Injury or Disability Claims

  Plaintiff seeks to exclude evidence regarding any personal injury or disability claims made in connection with a motor vehicle accident sixteen or seventeen years ago. Defendants purport to have opposed this motion, see Defs.' Opp'n to Mot. in Limine No. 4, but the text of Defendants' opposition and accompanying declaration of Randolph Hom refers only to Plaintiff's motion to exclude evidence regarding witnesses Gonzalez and Alcozy. Thus, Defendants have filed no opposition to the motion to exclude evidence regarding Plaintiff's prior motor vehicle accident, and the Court therefore GRANTS the motion as unopposed. The Court further notes that such evidence appears to have no relevance to the present dispute.

  Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Evidence Re: Address on Plaintiff's Driver's License

  Plaintiff listed the address of the commercial property leased to Plaintiff by the Balches as his address on his driver's license. Plaintiff contends that this evidence is irrelevant. Fresno, who worked for the Balches, testified in her deposition that she suspected someone may have been using the commercial property as a residence, in violation of Plaintiff's lease and zoning laws. However, Fresno also testified that she did not confront Begzad on this issue, and Defendants have pointed to no evidence that Fresno's suspicion had anything to do with either the Balches' decision not to renew Begzad's lease or Fresno's decision to call the police. Thus, the Court agrees with Plaintiff that this evidence is irrelevant and therefore GRANTS Plaintiff's motion, subject to the provision that the evidence may become relevant, and therefore admissible, if introduced for purposes of impeachment — e.g., if Plaintiff presents evidence that he did not live on the property or that he was not in violation of any lease terms.

  Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Evidence Re: Business Permits

  Plaintiff seeks to exclude as irrelevant any evidence regarding city or other government permits that Plaintiff either failed to obtain or was late in obtaining. Although the Court agrees with Defendants that evidence regarding Plaintiff's lease is relevant, Defendants have cited no evidence tying the lease to the ...


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