Evidence: Pre-trial Motions

Evidence: Exclusion of Marijuana Use

By on June 8, 2015 - Comments off

Hernandez v. County of Los Angeles, (Second District, June 17, 2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1599, 173 Cal.Rptr.3d 226.

The daughter of a man who was killed when he was struck by a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff’s car while standing near his car after an accident on the freeway,  brought a wrongful death action against the deputy and the County of Los Angeles. Prior to trial the plaintiff filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of her father’s use of medical marijuana, contending that the County could not show the decedent was impaired by marijuana at the time of the accident or establish any causal connection between his marijuana use and his death, and that the evidence would be unduly prejudicial.

The trial court denied the motion, concluding that evidence of whether the decedent was impaired and whether such impairment contributed to the collisions or his actions, was relevant to assess fault attributable to him. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff but apportioned 14 percent of the fault to the decedent. The court of appeal reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, concluding that “evidence of marijuana use is irrelevant in the absence of a causal connection between the marijuana use and the accident”: Read the rest »


In Limine Motions: Character Evidence Exclusion

By on October 2, 2008 - Comments off

Winfred D. v. Michelin North America, Inc., (2nd District, August 7, 2008) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2008 WL 3115802

A man who sustained a severe brain injury when the right rear tire on his cargo van delaminated and caused the vehicle to roll over, filed suit against the tire manufacturer. At trial, over objection, the trial court permitted defense counsel to introduce evidence that while the plaintiff was married to his first wife, he had an affair with and later married his business partner’s wife, that he falsely told his second wife before marrying her that he had divorced his first wife, and that after divorcing his second wife he had an affair with a third woman with whom he had two children. The trial court reasoned that the evidence was relevant to credibility and to the cause of the accident.

Following the jury verdict in favor of the defendants the plaintiff appealed, arguing that the disputed evidence should have been excluded under Evidence Code Section 352. The court of appeal agreed, reversed the judgment and ordered the case remanded for a new trial, holding that the disputed evidence was so inflammatory that it appeared reasonably probable that had it been excluded, the plaintiff could have obtained a verdict in his favor: Read the rest »