Dotson v. Price, et al, No. 2:2017cv14063 - Document 95 (E.D. La. 2019)

Court Description: ORDER AND REASONS granting 58 Motion in Limine to Exclude or Limit Certain Testimony and Evidence regarding Plaintiff's drug use. Signed by Judge Susie Morgan on 6/11/2019. (sbs)
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Dotson v. Price, et al Doc. 95 U N ITED S TATES D ISTRICT COU RT EASTERN D ISTRICT OF LOU ISIAN A D AVID H . D OTSON , Plain tiff CIVIL ACTION VERSU S N O. 17-14 0 6 3 J OH N PRICE, ET AL., D e fe n d an ts SECTION : “E” ( 3 ) ORD ER AN D REAS ON S Before the Court is a m otion in lim ine to exclude or lim it testim ony regarding Plaintiff’s drug use, filed by Plaintiff David H. Dotson (“Dotson”). 1 Defendant Atlantic Specialty Lin es, Inc. (“Atlantic”) opposes. 2 For the following reasons, the Court GRAN TS Plaintiff’s m otion. BACKGROU N D This case arises out of a J anuary 19, 20 15 auto accident between Dotson and J ohn Price. 3 Dotson seeks to recover dam ages resulting from personal injuries he alleges he sustained in the accident. Dotson has a pending worker’s com pensation claim against his em ployer, Pitts & Sons, Inc. 4 Atlantic insures Pitts & Sons, Inc. As part of Dotson’s worker’s com pensation claim , Atlantic retained David W. Aiken, J r., M.D. to perform an independent m edical exam ination (“IME”) of Dotson, which occurred on May 12, 20 15. 5 After the IME, Atlantic forwarded Dotson’s pharm acological records to Dr. Aiken. Dr. Aiken, in three “supplem ental m edical record reviews” dated J uly 15, 20 15, August 13, 20 15, and August 1 R. Doc. 58. R. Doc. 65. 3 R. Doc. 1. 4 R. Doc. 65, n.2. 5 R. Doc. 58-2. 2 1 17, 20 15, m akes various references to Dotson’s narcotics use. 6 Atlantic deposed Dr. Aiken on October 7, 20 15, during which Dr. Aiken again referen ced Dotson’s use of narcotics. 7 On J anuary 19, 20 16, Atlantic filed the in stant suit against J ohn Price and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Com pany. 8 Progressive Casualty Insurance Com pany (“Progressive”), Dotson’s underinsured m otorist insurer, was joined to the suit on Septem ber 6, 20 17. 9 Atlantic was nam ed as an additional Defendant on Novem ber 3, 2o17. 10 The only rem aining Defendants are Atlantic and Progressive. Atlantic has nam ed as expert witnesses Dr. Aiken and Michael J . McNulty, M.D., who perform ed an IME on Dotson on March 11, 20 19. 11 In his IME report, Dr. McNulty references Dr. Aiken’s m entions of Dotson’s narcotic usage an d also com m ents on Dotson’s allegedly excessive usage. 12 Atlantic intends to elicit testim ony from each doctor regarding “his physical exam ination of the Plaintiff, his review of Plaintiff’s m edical records and diagnostic im aging, and opinions as to the Plaintiff’s injuries, m edical causation, treatm ent, prognosis, and physical lim itations, if any.”13 Dotson filed the instant m otion on April 15, 20 19. 14 He argues Atlantic should be precluded from offering testim ony regarding his narcotics use and pharm acological records under Rule 40 3 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. 15 Dotson concedes that counsel for Atlantic will be perm itted to question Dotson regarding his narcotics use, but argues 6 Id. R. Doc. 65-1. 8 R. Doc. 1. 9 Id. 10 Id. 11 R. Doc. 50 . 12 R. Doc. 58-3. 13 R. Doc. 50 . 14 R. Doc. 58. 15 R. Doc. 58-1. 7 2 Atlantic should be lim ited to questioning Dotson’s treating physicians regarding their treatm ent decisions. 16 Atlantic opposes. 17 LAW AN D AN ALYSIS Rule 40 3 provides: “The court m ay exclude relevant eviden ce if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or m ore of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, m isleading the jury, undue delay, wasting tim e, or needlessly presenting cum ulative eviden ce.”18 Dotson argues that the probative value of the testim ony of Drs. Aiken and McNulty regarding his drug use, if any, is outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice to him . 19 In its opposition to the instant m otion, Atlantic states the testim ony of Drs. Aiken and McNulty is relevant to: (1) “whether the prescription narcotic pain m edication that the Plaintiff has been taking for several years is an appropriate am ount,” and (2) whether the am ount of narcotic that Dotson was taking before the accident differs from the am ount he took after the accident. 20 As to the first issue, the Court finds that Atlantic has not established the relevance of the “appropriaten ess” of Dotson’s narcotics use to issues of fact in this case. Testim onial eviden ce regarding narcotics use or addiction to narcotics carries a high risk of prejudice to Plaintiff. The Court finds the risk of prejudice of introducing testim ony of this nature outweighs any probative value such testim ony m ay have. 16 Id. R. Doc. 65. 18 F ED . R. E VID . 40 3. 19 Plaintiff also argues that Drs. Aiken and McNulty are not qualified to offer such testim ony under F ED . R. E VID. 70 2. Since the Court finds Rule 40 3 sufficient to grant Plaintiff’s m otion , it does not reach this issue. 20 R. Doc. 65. 17 3 As to whether the am ount of narcotic m edication Dotson was taking before and after the accident differs, the Court finds that such inform ation m ay be relevant to the legal issue of causation because it relates to whether or not the accident caused Dotson’s need for shoulder surgery. However, Plaintiff concedes Atlantic m ay question Dotson regarding his own drug usage. The Court also will allow Atlantic to question Plaintiff’s treating physicians as to Dotson’s drug usage, prescriptions, and pharm acological history. 21 Any additional testim ony on these issues by Drs. Aiken and McNulty would be cum ulative. To the extent such testim ony would have som e probative value, the Court, considering the risk of prejudice of introducing cum ulative testim ony with respect to narcotics use and addiction, finds its value is significantly outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice to Plaintiff. As a result, the Court will exclude the testim ony of Drs. Aiken and McNulty on these issues. CON CLU SION For the foregoing reasons, IT IS ORD ERED that m otion in lim in e to exclude or lim it testim ony by Drs. Aiken and McNulty regarding Plaintiff’s drug use, filed by Plaintiff David H. Dotson, be and hereby is GRAN TED . 22 N e w Orle a n s , Lo u is ian a, th is 11th d ay o f J u n e , 2 0 19 . ________________________________ SU SIE MORGAN U N ITED S TATES D ISTRICT J U D GE 21 See Thom as v. W & T Offshore, Inc., No. CV 16-14694, 20 18 WL 4462242, at *5 (E.D. La. Sept. 18 , 20 18) (excluding testim ony regarding the plaintiff’s alleged drug abuse because, inter alia, “Defendant m ay question Plaintiff directly about his pharm acological records and past prescription history”). 22 R. Doc. 58. 4