United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE
case arises from Plaintiff Dusty McSparran's allegation
that Defendant Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department
Officer Luke Little used excessive force in arresting him.
Plaintiff contends he was in the process of complying with
Officer Little's directive to get on the ground when
Officer Little “smashed” his face into the
ground, causing serious injuries. Officer Little contends he
was merely pulling Plaintiff to the ground because he
believed Plaintiff was planning to escape. Officer Little
also contends it is unclear how Plaintiff's face was
fractured, because a few days before the incident, someone
punched Plaintiff in the face during a fight, causing him to
fall and hit his head on the concrete, knocking him
before the Court are the parties' motions in limine. The
Court grants in part Defendant's motions (Doc. 62), and
denies Plaintiff's motion (Doc. 64).
Defendant's motions are granted in part.
Plaintiff may not give medical testimony, and the Court will
carefully monitor his testimony regarding
the cause of his injuries and any diagnosis he attempts to
Little first moves to exclude Plaintiff from offering any
medical opinions concerning causation, including that his
actions caused Plaintiff to suffer: (1) permanent flattening
of the right side of his face; (2) facial fractures; (3)
permanent nerve damage; and (4) hearing loss. Defendant
argues that there are two possible causes of Plaintiff's
injuries, thus any testimony regarding medical causation-that
is, that Officer Little's actions caused a particular
medical result-must be supported by expert testimony. But
Plaintiff has not designated any medical experts, and any
testimony that Officer Little's actions continue to cause
Plaintiff injury is purely speculative.
responds that Eighth Circuit law provides that “a
causal connection between an event and an injury may be
inferred in cases in which a visible injury or a sudden onset
of injury occurs.” Ziesmer v. Hagen, 785 F.3d
1233, 1238-39 (8th Cir. 2015) (holding that although the
plaintiff's account of how badly he was injured seemed
unlikely, particularly given evidence to the contrary from
the defendant's expert, that was a credibility question
for the jury to decide).
Court cannot tell from the existing record whether
Plaintiff's previous fight was a sufficiently likely
cause of his injury that he needs expert medical testimony to
establish that Officer Little caused his injuries.
Accordingly, the Court reserves ruling on this point until it
hears the evidence at trial.
Plaintiff is permitted to testify about what he believes
caused his injuries, the Court will circumscribe his
testimony about the extent of his injuries and his prognosis.
For example, Plaintiff will not be permitted to testify or
argue that he has “permanent” nerve damage,
hearing loss, and flattening of the right side of his face.
He may, however, testify that he has not been able to hear
since that incident, and that his face has looked different
ever since the incident. Under no circumstance will Plaintiff
be permitted to give medical testimony.
Testimony that Plaintiff was “set up” or that his
arrest was unlawful is not admissible.
Little moves to preclude Plaintiff from arguing that he was
“set up” or that his arrest was unlawful. As
discussed in the Court's summary judgment order (Doc. 5),
because Plaintiff pled guilty to two crimes stemming from
this incident, he cannot contest the lawfulness of his
arrest. Accordingly, Plaintiff will not be permitted to
elicit evidence or argue that he was wrongfully “set
up” or his arrest was somehow unlawful. The focus of
the trial will be on whether Officer Little used excessive
force under the circumstances. This motion is GRANTED.
Any testimony that unnamed officers laughed at
Plaintiff's injuries and called him a “sissy”
is not admissible.
claims that following the incident, while he was at the
hospital, unidentified officers and detectives laughed at his
injuries and called him a “sissy.” Officer Little
moves to exclude such evidence. Officer Little notes he was
never at the hospital, and that whether Plaintiff was teased
at the hospital is not relevant to whether he used excessive
contends the behavior of Officer Little's “brothers
on the police force” is ...