Free Motion in Limine - District Court of Arizona - Arizona


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Matthew D. Kleifield 011564 Chad C. Baker 023083 Julie R. Barton 022814 KUNZ PLITT HYLAND DEMLONG & KLEIFIELD 3838 North Central Avenue, Suite 1500 Phoenix, Arizona 85012-1902
Email: [email protected] Email: [email protected] (602) 331-4600

Attorneys for Defendants 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Case 2:03-cv-01555-SRB Document 130 Filed 12/05/2005 Page 1 of 7

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR THE DISTRICT COURT OF ARIZONA MARVIN SAPIRO SAPIRO, his wife, and GLORIA No. CIV03-1555 PHX SRB DEFENDANTS' MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 2 REGARDING EVIDENCE OF SUBSEQUENT REMEDIAL MEASURES (Oral Argument Requested)

Plaintiffs, v. SUNSTONE HOTELS INVESTORS, L.L.C., SUNSTONE HOTEL INVESTORS, L.P. Defendant.

Defendants ("Sunstone") move this Court for its Order in Limine excluding any statement, argument, testimony, or evidence of any acts, events, or measures taken by, or on behalf of, Sunstone in response to and after Sunstone's notification of Plaintiff Marvin Sapiro's illness and threat of lawsuit. Rule 407 and Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence preclude admission of such evidence. The following Memorandum of Points and Authorities and this Court's entire file support this Motion. ... ...

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MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES PERTINENT FACTS Plaintiffs Mr. and Mrs. Sapiro stayed at the Sheraton San Marcos Golf Resort and Conference Center (the "San Marcos") from February 6, 2003 to February 11, 2003. (See

5 Amended Complaint, 6, 14). Plaintiffs returned to their home state of Florida where Mr. 6 Sapiro became ill, was hospitalized, and later released. (See Amended Complaint, 15-27). 7 By a certified letter dated July 25, 2003, Plaintiffs notified Sunstone of Mr. Sapiro's illness, 8 conveyed their allegation of Legionnaires Disease, conveyed their belief he contracted his 9 illness while staying at the San Marcos, and stated their intention of filing suit. (See July 25, 10 2003 Correspondence, attached as Ex. A). 11 Responding to the information from Plaintiffs, Sunstone implemented a series of 12 measures to evaluate and remediate any potentially dangerous situation caused by its domestic 13 water system. Sunstone transferred all guests to a different hotel and then closed the hotel, (See 14 Hammermeister Deposition, p.63:19 p.67:14, excerpts attached as Ex. B); Sunstone hired a 15 private firm to sample and quantify the population of Legionella bacteria in the water system, 16 (See Studer Deposition, p.73:16, excerpts attached as Ex. C); Sunstone also super-heated and 17 hyper-chlorinated the hot water line, installed new boilers, installed new backflow prevention to 18 the city's water source, installed new water heaters and water storage tanks, replaced all the 19 showerheads, replaced all aerators at hand sinks, replaced circulation pumps, replaced piping to 20 the boilers, and ordered a chlorine dioxide injection system. (Ex. B, pp.88-90). The local media 21 ran news stories about Sunstone's efforts. (See Ex. D). Sunstone likewise provided fact sheets 22 to guests and press releases to the media regarding its efforts. (See fact sheets and Press 23 Releases, attached as Ex. E). 24 25 -2Case 2:03-cv-01555-SRB Document 130 Filed 12/05/2005 Page 2 of 7

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II.

ANY EVIDENCE OF MEASURES TAKEN IN RESPONSE TO INFORMATION CONVEYED IN PLAINTIFFS' JULY 25, 2003 CORRESPONDENCE, REPORTS OF THESE MEASURES, OR THE BASIS FOR UNDERTAKING SUCH MEASURES, IS PROPERLY EXCLUDED AS EVIDENCE OF SUBSEQUENT REMEDIAL MEASURES. Rule 407 provides that "[w]hen, after an injury or harm allegedly caused by an event,

measures are taken that, if taken previously would have made the injury or harm less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove negligence, culpable conduct ... or a need for a warning or instruction." Fed. R. Evid. 407 (2005); see also Columbia & P. S. R. Co. v. Hawthorne, 144 U.S. 202, 208, 12 S.Ct. 591, 593 (U.S.1892)(stating that "[p]eople do not furnish evidence against themselves simply by adopting a new plan in order to prevent the recurrence of an accident[,]" to hold that admitting evidence of changes in the sawmill's design after an accident was improper). Subsequent measures include investigations taken after the incident . See Maddox v. City of Los Angeles, 792 F.2d 1408, 1417 (9th Cir. 1986) (holding that "the internal affairs investigation and measures taken by the defendant city were remedial measures[.]"); Compl. of Consolidation Coal Co., 123 F.3d 126, 136 (3rd Cir. 1997)(excluding as a subsequent remedial measure a memo detailing an investigation and its conclusions that was prepared five days after an accident); Alimenta (U.S.A.), Inc. v. Stauffer, 598 F.Supp. 934, 940 (N.D.Ga. 1984); cf Rocky Mountain Helicopters, Inc. v. Bell Helicopters Textron, A Division of Textron, Inc., 805 F.2d 907, 918 (10th Cir. 1986)(holding that District Court did not abuse its discretion by admitting results from a Photoelastic Study, which was conducted after the helicopter crash and led to a redesign in the trunnions). In Alimenta, Price Waterhouse & Co. prepared a report, at the request of the trading company, "that made recommendations regarding the trading company's trading practices and procedures subsequent to the actions of the defendants which allegedly defrauded the [trading company]." 598 F.Supp. at 938. Because the trading company requested -3Case 2:03-cv-01555-SRB Document 130 Filed 12/05/2005 Page 3 of 7

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the report to improve practices, procedures and controls of its trading in response to the departure of a trader involved in improper trades, the Court excluded the report as a subsequent

3 remedial measure. Id. at 940. Additionally, press releases and other reports describing post4 incident investigations and responses are also excluded as subsequent remedial measures. See 5 Specht v. Jensen, 863 F.2d 700, 701-02 (10th Cir. 1988) (affirming the District Court's 6 exclusion of a press release that summarized the City's response to the incident as a subsequent 7 remedial measure). 8 In this case, Sunstone's actions in response to the information conveyed in Plaintiffs' July 9 25, 2003 letter, if conducted before learning of Mr. Sapiro's illness would have likely reduced 10 the potential that Mr. Sapiro would have become ill from his stay at the San Marcos, regardless 11 of the fact that such measures were not required to satisfy any duty owed to Plaintiffs. Positive 12 sample results wo uld have alerted Sunstone to a potentially dangerous condition and the 13 replacement of components, installation of new features, and disinfection of the water lines 14 would have potentially reduced or eliminated the Legionella population. Consequently, these 15 acts are subsequent remedial measures and therefore, no direct or indirect evidence of these 16 measures or reports discussing these measures should be admitted. To permit such evidence 17 would have a substantial chilling effect on efforts by similarly situated parties to reduce the 18 potential for harm related to conditions on business owners' premises. 19 Defendants presume that Plaintiffs will improperly attempt to argue that these remedial 20 measures may demonstrate conditions existing at the time of the incident, Sunstone's control of 21 the property, or the feasibility of repair. Sunstone's measures, undertaken approximately seven 22 months after Plaintiffs' stay, can not represent the conditions existing at the time of Plaintiffs' 23 stay. Additionally, Sunstone does not deny that it controlled the San Marcos during the relevant 24 time period. 25 -4Case 2:03-cv-01555-SRB Document 130 Filed 12/05/2005 Page 4 of 7

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Moreover, Sunstone has not challenged the "feasibility of repair" with respect to the multitude of measures taken. Sunstone's measures perturbed many variables associated with

3 Legionella proliferation, and therefore, it is uncertain what measures were necessary for removal 4 of the Legionella population. 5 veracity of Plaintiffs' assertions that routine sampling and draining of the hot water tanks would 6 have prevent Legionella proliferation. Because Sunstone did not challenge the feasibility of an 7 overhaul to the domestic water system, and such an overhaul does not advance Plaintiffs' 8 suggested measures, Sunstone's acts do not demonstrate the "feasibility of repair". 9 Finally, the issue in this case is not whether such acts would have worked, but rather 10 whether Sunstone was under a duty to perform them. Sunstone's measures, taken after receipt 11 of the letter, have no bearing on its duty to act before notice of a potentially dangerous 12 condition. To the extent these measures have any relevancy, the potential prejudice created by 13 the confirmation of Legionella, the steps taken in response, and the involvement of the local 14 health departments, significantly outweighs its probative value. See Fed. R. Evid. 403. 15 Consequently, Sunstone requests this Court prohibit Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs' counsel, or 16 Plaintiffs' witnesses from referencing, testifying or introducing any evidence relating to 17 Sunstones acts, measures and response taken after receipt of Plaintiffs' July 25, 2003 letter. 18 ... 19 ... 20 ... 21 ... 22 ... 23 ... 24 ... 25 -5Case 2:03-cv-01555-SRB Document 130 Filed 12/05/2005 Page 5 of 7

Sunstone's remedial measures do not help demonstrate the

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DATED this 5th day of December, 2005. KUNZ PLITT HYLAND DEMLONG & KLEIFIELD A Professional Corporation By s/Chad Baker Matthew D. Kleifield Chad C. Baker Julie R. Barton 3838 North Central Avenue, Suite 1500 Phoenix, Arizona 85012-1902 Attorneys for Defendants

COPY of the foregoing e-filed this 5 th day of December, 2005, with: United States District Court Clerk of the Court 401 West Washington Phoenix, Arizona 85003 COPIES of the foregoing mailed this 5th day of December, 2005, to: Hon. Susan J. Bolton 401 West Washington Phoenix, Arizona 85003 Chloe Andrews Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP 33 Main Street Armonk, NY 10504 Attorney for Plaintiffs Marvin and Gloria Sapiro COPIES of the foregoing electronically delivered this 5th day of December, 2005, to: Ann M. Galvani Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP 33 Main Street Armonk, NY 10504 Attorney for Plaintiffs -6Case 2:03-cv-01555-SRB Document 130 Filed 12/05/2005 Page 6 of 7

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David W. Shapiro, Esq. Boise, Schiller & Flexner, L.L.P. 199 Harrison Street Oakland, CA 94612 Attorney for Plaintiffs Jorge Schmidt Boise, Schiller & Flexner, L.L.P. Bank of America Tower, Suite 2800 100 S.E. 2 nd Street Miami, Florida 33131-2144 Attorney for Plaintiffs Steven W. Davis, Esq. Boise, Schiller & Flexner, L.L.P. Bank of America Tower, Suite 2800 100 S.E. 2 nd Street Miami, Florida 33131-2144 Attorney for Plaintiffs s/C. Waight

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