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Williams v. Devlin

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

April 23, 2015

DERECK G. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
RYAN DEVLIN, et al., Defendants

For Dereck G. Williams, Plaintiff: Anitha W. Johnson, LEAD ATTORNEY, ODELUGO & JOHNSON, LLC, Lanham, MD USA; Brendan Lally, PRO HAC VICE, ODELUGO & JOHNSON, LLC, Lanham, MD USA.

For Ryan Devlin, Officer, Metropolitan Police Department, Michael Lee O'Harran, Officer, Metropolitan Police Department, Defendants: James Anthony Towns, Sr., LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL for DC, Washington, DC USA; Shermineh C. Jones, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC USA.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiff filed suit against Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Officers Ryan Devlin and Michael Lee O'Harran on October 5, 2012, alleging malicious prosecution, assault and battery, and violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, specifically, false arrest, false imprisonment, conspiracy, and deprivation of civil rights, arising out of a traffic stop on October 9, 2011. Presently before the Court are the parties' objections to their Joint Pre-Trial Statement[1] and Defendants' Motion in Limine.[2] In advance of the pre-trial conference scheduled in this case for May 1, 2015, the Court has reviewed the parties' briefing of their objections and Defendants' Motion in Limine and outlines below the Court's determinations regarding the admissibility of certain evidence and the need for further briefing and documentation to determine the admissibility of the remaining evidence. The Court expects the parties to be prepared to discuss the documents and information requested below at the May 1, 2015, pretrial conference.

I. EVIDENCE WHICH THE PARTIES HAVE WITHDRAWN OR TO WHICH THEY NO LONGER OBJECT

From the parties' briefing of their Objections to the Joint Pretrial Statement, the Court understands that the following evidence, which had originally been objected to, has either been withdrawn or is no longer objected to:

o Witness Pamela Ford: Witness withdrawn by Defendants
o MPD General Orders: Three exhibits withdrawn by Defendants
o Implied Consent Form: Exhibit withdrawn by Defendants
o MPD Event Chronology Police Report: Exhibit withdrawn by Defendants
o Defendants' Independent Medical Examination Report: Exhibit withdrawn by Defendants
o Plaintiff's Independent Medical Examination Report: Exhibit withdrawn by Plaintiff
o Transcripts from Plaintiff's criminal trial: Defendants withdrew their objection to Plaintiff using the transcripts at trial, so long as Plaintiff uses the transcripts for impeachment purposes only

The parties shall indicate to the Court whether the Court has misunderstood or omitted any of the evidence which the parties have either withdrawn or to which they no longer object.

II. WITNESSES

a. Metropolitan Police Officer W. Hawkins

Plaintiff objects to Defendants calling Officer William Hawkins as a witness at trial on the basis that Officer Hawkins was not disclosed during discovery as having any personal knowledge about the incident at issue in this case. Defendants contend that Officer Hawkins was identified during discovery in an " MPD business record . . . which clearly identifies Officer Hawkins and his role during the arrest." Defs.' Opp'n at 2. As neither party has provided the Court with Plaintiff's interrogatory requesting the disclosure of witnesses such as Officer Hawkins, nor have they provided Defendants' response to Plaintiff's interrogatory and the MPD business record which Defendants claim identified Officer Hawkins, it is not possible for the Court to evaluate whether Officer Hawkins was identified to Plaintiff in such a fashion that Plaintiff was on notice of Officer Hawkins' knowledge relating to the incident. Accordingly, by no later than 12 P.M. on APRIL 28, 2015, the parties shall provide to the Court (1) Plaintiff's interrogatory requesting the disclosure of witnesses such as Officer Hawkins, (2) Defendants' response to Plaintiff's interrogatory, and (3) the MPD business record that Defendants claim identified Officer Hawkins.

b. Attorney Jason M. Kalafat

Defendants object to Plaintiff calling Jason M. Kalafat, Plaintiff's attorney in the underlying criminal trial, as a witness at trial on the basis that Mr. Kalafat's identity and the substance of his testimony were not disclosed during discovery " despite this information being requested in the District Defendants' Interrogatories Nos. 10, 21, 23, and 24." Defs.' Objs. at 3. Defendants also argue that Mr. Kalafat's proposed testimony regarding the cost of his legal fees during the criminal trial is irrelevant and prejudicial. As an initial matter, the Court finds that testimony regarding the cost of Plaintiff's legal fees for the underlying criminal action is relevant to Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim in so far as Plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages for that claim that would include his legal fees. See Weisman v. Middleton, 390 A.2d 996, 999 (D.C. 1978) (" attorney's fees, compensatory damages, and punitive damages . . . traditionally have been held to be proper elements for the jury's consideration in malicious prosecution cases." ). Plaintiff has only indicated that Mr. Kalafat would be testifying to the amount of his legal fees for defending Plaintiff in the criminal action; accordingly, any concern Defendants have about Mr. Kalafat testifying to the substance of the prosecution and the ultimate outcome of the criminal case and thereby prejudicing Defendants is misplaced. In any event, it is unclear to the Court from the parties' briefing whether Defendants are contesting the amount of legal fees Plaintiff is claiming as part of his damages for his malicious prosecution claim such that testimony from Mr. Kalafat would be necessary. Accordingly, the parties shall file a Notice with the Court by no later than 12 P.M. on APRIL 28, 2015, indicating whether the amount of legal fees included in Plaintiff's malicious prosecution damages claim is contested.

As to Defendants' allegation that Mr. Kalafat was not identified in discovery, Plaintiff responds that he did disclose that he would be calling Mr. Kalafat as a witness on June 4, 2014, when Plaintiff supplemented his discovery responses. However, June 4, 2014, was two months after the close of discovery. Although Plaintiff presumably was aware of Mr. Kalafat's identity during the discovery period, Plaintiff does not indicate in his briefing why he did not identify Mr. Kalafat as a witness earlier. Moreover, as Defendants have not provided the Court with Interrogatories Nos. 10, 21, 23, and 24, the Court cannot assess whether Plaintiff disregarded Defendant's discovery request in failing to identify Mr. Kalafat. Defendants indicated at the Status Hearing on June 13, 2014, that they were going to file a Motion to Strike the evidence produced by Plaintiff after the close of discovery, but instead asked the Court to reopen discovery for the limited purpose of examining wage evidence produced by Plaintiff after the close of discovery. In their request to reopen discovery, Defendants indicated that reopening ...


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