United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
ALLIANZ LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF NORTH AMERICA, Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant,
GENE L. MUSE, M.D., Defendant/Counterclaimant; and PATIA PEARSON, Defendant.
CHARLES B. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are three Motions in Limine filed by
Defendant/Counterclaimant Gene L. Muse, MD
(“Muse”) (Doc. Nos. 134, 135, 136).
Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant Allianz Life Insurance
Company of North America (“Allianz”) has
responded (Doc. Nos. 151, 152, 153). The Court heard argument
on the Motions on January 7, 2020, and now rules as follows.
Muse's First Motion in Limine
First Motion, Muse requests that the Court exclude testimony
and evidence regarding Muse's sources and amounts of
income, business interests, and properties owned as
irrelevant to the matters before the Court. Allianz responds
that these types of evidence will likely be relevant to
issues other than Muse's financial condition, including
that Muse's active participation in organizations and
management of properties show a greater physical ability than
what he represented to Allianz. Allianz also notes that
Muse's financial condition would be relevant in the event
that punitive damages are considered by the jury.
First Motion (Doc. No. 134) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
PART. The Court agrees that the specific income Muse receives
from his other insurance policies or business interests is
not relevant to the claims and defenses before the Court and,
therefore, such evidence shall not be presented at the
liability stage of trial. Beyond that, the Court denies
Muse's broad request at this time because the evidence at
issue has not been sufficiently described to allow the Court
to evaluate whether it is relevant for the reasons stated by
Allianz. Muse may object if Allianz seeks to admit any such
testimony or item of evidence at trial. Cf. Hussein v.
Duncan Reg'l Hosp., Inc., No. CIV-07-439-F, 2009 WL
10672480, at *1 (W.D. Okla. Oct. 20, 2009) (“[A] motion
in limine is a request to the court, in advance of trial, to
apply the rules of evidence to a particular set of
facts. The court cannot rule in the abstract.”).
Muse's Second Motion in Limine
Second Motion (Doc. No. 135) requests that the Court exclude
any mention of prior criminal charges that appear in
Allianz's investigative reports. Allianz has agreed to
redaction of the reports (Doc. No. 152). Therefore, this
request is GRANTED.
Muse's Third Motion in Limine
Third Motion (Doc. No. 136), Muse asserts: “Allianz
intends to offer exhibits which were not produced in
discovery, have not been previously identified, constitute
hearsay and are irrelevant, such as The OKC Philharmonic
Annual Reports (from 2013 - 2018), articles from ‘okc
Friday,' Facebook posts, a Quit Claim Deed, and a picture
of Dr. Muse at the airport taken this past summer.”
Def.'s Third Mot. at 2.
does not identify any discovery requests to which these items
were responsive and does not dispute that the exhibits are
publicly available. Nor does Muse dispute that the relevant
exhibits were identified by Allianz well before trial.
Exclusion therefore is not warranted on the basis of
Allianz's nonproduction or any unfair surprise to Muse.
See Proposed Final Pretrial Report (Doc. No. 129)
(filed Dec. 20, 2019); cf. United States v. Southeastern
Okla. State Univ., No. CIV-15-324-C, 2016 WL 4250482, at
*2 (W.D. Okla. Aug. 10, 2016) (finding that a discovery
request “seek[ing] public information” that was
equally available to the parties was “not proper
relevance, Muse argues that some of the exhibits portray Muse
and Defendant Patia Pearson (“Pearson”) as
married but such assertion is incorrect and irrelevant to the
matters before the Court. Allianz responds that evidence
indicating that the public perceives Muse and Pearson as a
married couple is relevant to establishing that a spousal
exclusion in the insurance contract would apply to preclude
Muse's receipt of benefits for care provided by Pearson
due to their common-law marriage. See Pl.'s
Third Resp. (Doc. No. 153) at 3. Even assuming the potential
applicability of the spousal exclusion is relevant to the
remaining claims of this lawsuit, the Court is not convinced.
prove a common-law marriage under Oklahoma law, the parties
must “actually intend to constitute the relation of
husband and wife”; although a promise “to become
husband and wife” may be “implied or inferred,
” there must be some evidence “that the parties
themselves regarded the marriage relation as
presently existing.” Cavanaugh v. Cavanaugh,
275 P. 315, 316 (Okla. 1929) (emphasis added). Pearson has
denied that she “ever held [herself] out as being
[Muse's] wife.” Pearson Dep. 35:13-15 (Doc. No.
111-2). And Allianz points to no evidence to contradict this
denial or support a finding that Muse regarded Pearson and
himself as a married couple. A donor-recognition list that
has no legal effect and does not identify Pearson by name
does not reasonably show that Muse and Pearson
“maintain[ed] the marriage relation” during the
time period at issue. Estate of Smart v. Smart, 676
P.2d 1379, 1380 (Okla.Civ.App. 1983) (internal quotation
marks omitted). Nor does a photo caption authored by someone
other than Muse or Pearson.
the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Third Motion
(Doc. No. 136). The Third Motion is granted to the extent
that donor lists, photo captions, or other exhibits may not
be offered to show that the community believed Muse and
Pearson to be married or that Muse and Pearson had entered
into a common-law marriage by virtue of believing themselves
to be so married. The Court otherwise denies the Third Motion
and finds that evidence merely reflecting the nature of Muse
and Pearson's personal relationship or cohabitation is
not subject to wholesale exclusion, given the specific facts
underlying the pending fraud and conspiracy claims raised
against them. In addition, photographs indicating that Muse
was able to ambulate alone or otherwise act independently are
relevant to whether Defendants falsely represented ...