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White v. Cooper Tools

March 30, 2010

JAMES D. WHITE AND BRENDA WHITE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COOPER TOOLS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen E. Schreier Chief Judge

ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE

In this products liability case, plaintiffs, James D. White (James) and Brenda White (Brenda), allege that James was injured as a result of a manufacturing defect in a 3/8" x 16' Grade 43 chain manufactured by defendant, Cooper Tools, Inc. On February 19, 2004, while working as a forklift mechanic at Herc-U-Lift, James used the chain to secure the carriage assembly of a forklift so that he could repair the cylinder underneath the carriage assembly. While James was working underneath the suspended carriage assembly, two links of the chain broke, and the carriage assembly fell onto James, causing injury to his abdomen, pelvis, and legs. Plaintiffs sued defendant, alleging strict liability in tort and loss of consortium.

Pending before the court are the parties' motions in limine. At a pretrial conference held on July 31, 2009, the court ruled on several motions in limine and took several others under advisement.*fn1 Now the court considers the motions in limine that were not ruled on during the pretrial conference.

I. Defendant's Motions in Limine (Docket 96)

A. No. 1--Dissimilar Incidents

Defendant moves to prohibit plaintiffs, their counsel, and any witnesses from presenting arguments or evidence relating to dissimilar incidents of chain breakages. Plaintiffs indicate that they have no objection as long as defendants do not present evidence of the absence of other chain breakages. Defendant states that it does not intend to introduce such evidence. Based on the rationale stated during the pretrial conference, defendant's motion is granted.

B. No. 6--Testimony of Undisclosed Expert Witnesses

Defendant moves to prohibit plaintiffs from presenting the testimony of undisclosed expert witnesses. Plaintiffs argue that their expert witness, Lester B. Engel, should be able to offer rebuttal testimony based on testing performed by Dr. Dana Medlin. For the reasons stated during the pretrial conference, defendant's motion is denied and plaintiffs shall disclose Dr. Medlin's testing to defendant.

C. No. 8--Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP

Defendant moves to preclude plaintiffs, their counsel, and any witnesses from mentioning defendant's decision not to use Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP as trial counsel. After a break in the pretrial conference, defendant indicated that the parties reached an agreement on this motion. As a result, and based on the rationale stated during the pretrial conference, defendant's motion is denied.

D. No. 14--Caption

Defendant moves to confine the caption and evidence to Cooper Tools, Inc., and not Cooper Industries, Inc. or Cooper Industries, Ltd. Based on the rationale stated during the pretrial conference, defendant's motion is granted and the caption will be so amended.

E. No. 16--Get Well Cards

Defendant moves to prohibit plaintiffs, their counsel, and all witnesses from mentioning any "get well" cards received by James after the accident. Based on the rationale stated at the pretrial conference, defendant's motion is denied. Plaintiffs shall disclose to defendant any cards they intend to introduce into evidence, and defendant shall bring any objections to the court's attention prior to trial. ...


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