United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE 
(DOCS. 55-56, 59-63)
JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Flores' purchased a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 on September 4,
2011, which they contend had serious defects and
nonconformities to warranty. Plaintiffs contend FCA UC LLC
manufactured the vehicle and is liable for violations of the
Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and fraudulent inducement
under California law. The defendant denies these claims.
Legal Standards Governing Motions in Limine
the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize in
limine rulings, the practice has developed pursuant to the
district court's inherent authority to manage the course
of trials.” Luce v. United States, 469 U.S.
38, 40 n. 2 (1984). The Ninth Circuit explained motions in
limine “allow parties to resolve evidentiary disputes
ahead of trial, without first having to present potentially
prejudicial evidence in front of a jury.” Brodit v.
Cabra, 350 F.3d 985, 1004-05 (9th Cir. 2003) (citations
motions in limine seeking the exclusion of broad categories
of evidence are disfavored. See Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire
and Rubber Co., 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975). The
Court “is almost always better situated during the
actual trial to assess the value and utility of
evidence.” Wilkins v. Kmart Corp., 487
F.Supp.2d 1216, 1218 (D. Kan. 2007). The Sixth Circuit
explained, “[A] better practice is to deal with
questions of admissibility of evidence as they arise [in
trial]” as opposed to ruling on a motion in limine.
Sperberg, 519 F.2d at 712. Nevertheless, motions in
limine are “an important tool available to the trial
judge to ensure the expeditious and evenhanded management of
the trial proceedings.” Jonasson v. Lutheran Child
& Family Services, 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir.
motion in limine should not be used to resolve factual
disputes or weigh evidence, ” C & E Services,
Inc. v. Ashland Inc., 539 F.Supp.2d 316, 323 (D. D.C.
2008), because that is the province of the jury. See
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, 530 U.S. 133, 150
(2000). The Court will bar use of the evidence in question
only if the moving party establishes that the evidence
clearly is not admissible for any valid purpose.
Jonasson, 115 F.3d at 440.
example, under the Federal Rules of Evidence, any evidence
that is not relevant is not admissible. Fed.R.Evid. 402. To
determine that evidence is relevant, the Court must find
“(a) it has a 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. Nevertheless, relevant evidence may be
excluded “if its probative value is substantially
outweighed by the 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.
rulings on the motions in limine made below do not preclude
either party from raising the admissibility of the evidence
discussed herein, if the evidence adduced at trial
demonstrate a change of circumstances that would make the
evidence admissible, such as for impeachment or if the
opponent opens the door to allow for its admissibility.
However, if this occurs, the proponent of the evidence
SHALL raise the issue with the Court outside
the presence of the jury. Finally, the rulings made here are
binding on all parties and their witnesses and not merely on
the moving party.
Plaintiffs' Motions in Limine
Plaintiffs' motion in limine No. 1 (Doc.
seek to exclude evidence that they did not make use of the
Better Business Bureau's arbitration service. (Doc. 55)
They argue that whether they took steps to resolve the
dispute or make sufficient effort to seek repurchase is
irrelevant because California law has no such requirement.
Consequently, the plaintiffs assert that any argument or
evidence suggesting he failed to act reasonably in this
regard is irrelevant or misleading.
the plaintiffs argue that FCA's refusal to repurchase or
replace the defective vehicle is relevant to his prayer for
civil penalties. Song-Beverly provides for civil penalties
where a plaintiff establishes that a defendant's failure
to comply with an obligation of that statute was willful.
Cal. Civ. Code § 1794(c). A jury can find that a
violation was willful where a manufacturer “refused a
refund or replacement on the ground a reasonable number of
repair attempts had not been made, without making any effort
to gather the available information on repair history. .
.” Kwan v. Mercedes-Benz of N. Am., Inc., 23
Cal.App.4th 174, 185 (1994).
plaintiffs also seek to preclude FCA from examining them
about why they “did not do more to obtain a buy-back
prior to filing a lawsuit” because Song-Beverly places
the burden on the manufacturer to monitor warranty repair
attempts and “does not require consumers to take any
affirmative steps to secure relief for the failure of a
manufacturer to service or repair a vehicle to conform to
applicable warranties-other than, of course, permitting the
manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle,
” even though, “as a practical matter, ”
most consumers likely will make such a request. Krotin v.
Porsche Cars N. Am., Inc., 38 Cal.App.4th 294, 302-303
(1995), as modified on denial of reh'g (Sept. 14, 1995);
see also id. at 303 (“As it stands now,
however, the manufacturer has an affirmative duty to replace
a vehicle or make restitution to the buyer if the
manufacturer is unable to repair the new vehicle after a
reasonable number of repair attempts, and the buyer need not
reject or revoke acceptance of the vehicle at any time. The
buyer need only provide the manufacturer with a reasonable
opportunity to fix the vehicle.”); Lukather v. Gen.
Motors, LLC, 181 Cal.App.4th 1041, 1050 (2010) (citing
Krotin and rejecting the defendant's contention
that plaintiff “himself had a duty to act promptly
under the Act”).
Court agrees that though the plaintiffs are not required to
affirmatively request repurchase, if he chooses to testify
that he requested repurchase, the defense is entitled to
question him about this action. Whether he sought arbitration
through the BBB, however, is irrelevant and may not be
admitted. Whether FCA maintains an informal dispute solution
program is pertinent to the penalties the plaintiffs seek and
is admissible. Thus, the motion is GRANTED IN
Plaintiffs' motion in limine No. 2 (Doc.
plaintiffs seek to exclude expert testimony from FCA's
“person most knowledgeable.” (Doc. 56) The
plaintiffs assert they noticed and took the deposition of
FCA's person most ...