Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Media Alliance, Inc. and Stephen C. Pierce v. Robert Mirch

January 19, 2012

MEDIA ALLIANCE, INC. AND STEPHEN C. PIERCE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROBERT MIRCH, COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS FOR THE CITY OF TROY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, AND THE CITY OF TROY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mae A. D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge:

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

The trial of this action is scheduled to commence on January 23, 2012. Presently before the Court are the parties' motions in limine. Plaintiffs seek an order allowing plaintiffs to introduce newspaper articles and the testimony of witnesses including employees of the Bureau of Code Enforcement and other property owners in the City of Troy as evidence of defendants' retaliatory use of code enforcement. (Dkt. Nos. 67, 71). Defendants move for an order: (1) precluding plaintiffs from introducing evidence of defendants' alleged prior acts of code enforcement with non-parties; (2) precluding plaintiffs from calling witnesses who were not previously disclosed; (3) dismissing plaintiffs' abuse of process claim pursuant to the applicable statute of limitation; (4) dismissing plaintiffs' abuse of process claim as it fails as a matter of law; and (5) precluding plaintiffs' substantive due process claim as it fails as a matter of law. (Dkt. Nos. 57, 72).

DISCUSSION

The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the trial court to rule in advance of trial on the admissibility and relevance of certain forecasted evidence. See Luce v. U.S., 469 U.S. 38, 40 n. 2 (1984); see also Palmieri v. Defaria, 88 F.3d 136, 141 (2d Cir. 1996) ("[t]he purpose of an in limine motion is 'to aid the trial process by enabling the Court to rule in advance of trial on the relevance of certain forecasted evidence, as to issues that are definitely set for trial, without lengthy argument at, or interruption of, the trial'".) "A motion in limine to preclude evidence asks the court to make a preliminary determination on the admissibility of the evidence under Rule 104 of the Federal Rules of Evidence." Blazina v. Port Auth. of New York and New Jersey, 2008 WL 4539484, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. 2008). As the disputes regarding the admissibility of evidence are made outside the context of the trial, the Court's rulings on the motions in limine are, "subject to change when the case unfolds, particularly if the actual testimony differs from what was expected". Levitant v. City of New York Human Res. Admin., 2011 WL 795050, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) (quoting Luce, 469 U.S. at 41 ("[o]wing to its preliminary nature, an in limine ruling, 'is subject to change when the case unfolds'".)

The Court addresses the parties' multiple requests for relief seriatim.

I. Admissibility of Prior Acts

Plaintiffs seek to support their Monell claims with evidence of defendants' alleged pattern of constitutional violations introduced through newspaper articles, non-party testimony and the testimony of Bureau of Code Enforcement employees. Defendants oppose the motion arguing that evidence of prior acts would, "require a mini-trial" resulting in jury confusion and prejudice to defendants.

A. Newspaper Articles

Plaintiffs will not be permitted to introduce newspaper articles to support their claims. "Newspaper articles are hearsay when introduced to prove the truth of the matter asserted, and must not be admitted." Delrosario v. City of New York , 2010 WL 882990, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (citing, inter alia, McAllister v. N.Y. City Police Dep't, 49 F.Supp.2d 688, 706 n. 12 (S.D.N.Y.1999) ("Newspaper articles are hearsay, . . . and . . . are not admissible evidence of New York City Police Department policy or custom"); see also Dockery v. Tucker, 2006 WL 5893295, at *23 (E.D.N.Y. 2006) (in support of a Monell claim, plaintiff may not rely upon an array of newspaper articles and judicial decisions discussing general police misconduct).

B. Witness testimony

Plaintiffs argue that the testimony from other property owners in the City of Troy and from employees of the Bureau of Code Enforcement is necessary and relevant to prove that Mirch had final policymaking authority over the Bureau of Code Enforcement and also, that the City had a widespread custom of using the building code in a retaliatory fashion.

1. Other Property Owners within the City of Troy

Plaintiffs claim that defendants were aware of the property owners as potential witnesses based upon the deposition testimony of defendants' employees. Defendants argue that plaintiff did not previously disclose the property owners as potential witnesses in any Rule 26 disclosures ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.