United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART: (1)
DEFENDANT NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE’S MOTION IN LIMINE
NO. 7, DOC. NO. 473, AND (2) DEFENDANT STATE OF
HAWAII’S MOTION TO DISMISS OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE STRIKE
PLAINTIFF’S WITNESS LIST, DOC. NO. 471
Michael Seabright Chief United States District Judge.
Order concerns two Motions: (1) Defendant National Football
League’s (“NFL”) Motion in Limine No. 7 to
Exclude Testimony from Witnesses not Called at the First
Trial, Doc. No. 473; and (2) Defendant State of
Hawaii’s (the “State”) Motion to Dismiss,
or in the Alternative, to Strike Plaintiff’s Witness
List Filed May 7, 2016, Doc. No. 471. As indicated at the
June 16, 2016 hearing, both Motions are GRANTED in PART and
DENIED in PART.
stage, the court declines to dismiss the action and refuses
to exclude entirely any testimony from witnesses who did not
testify at the prior March 2015 trial (the “first
trial”). Plaintiff Deb Ritchie
(“Plaintiff”) is limited to naming (if desired)
three additional witnesses, that is, witnesses who did not
testify at the first trial (whether called by Plaintiff or by
either Defendant).Plaintiff must name any such additional
witnesses by filing and serving a new complete witness list
on or before June 23, 2016. Plaintiff must also disclose to
Defendants by June 23, 2016 any new exhibits related to these
additional witnesses that were not previously disclosed to
Defendants. The deadline for discovery related to the three
additional witnesses is extended to July 30, 2016.
re-trial of the remaining issues in this case was originally
set for June 18, 2015. Doc. No. 370. Upon Motion by
Plaintiff, the trial date was continued to March 8, 2016.
Doc. No. 398. Plaintiff’s former counsel was allowed to
withdraw from this action on December 8, 2015, Doc. No. 405,
and Plaintiff has proceeded pro se since counsel withdrew.
on December 17, 2015, the court issued a “Notice to Pro
Se Litigant, ” informing Plaintiff that (among other
matters) she must familiarize herself with, and follow, the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence,
and this court’s local rules. Doc. No. 407, Notice at
1. The Notice reminded Plaintiff that she “must know
and meet all court deadlines and case filing
requirements.” Id. The court also notified
Plaintiff that her pro se status does not excuse her from
complying with all trial-related requirements. Id.
at 2. And on December 23, 2015, the court reaffirmed a trial
date of March 8, 2016, setting various pretrial deadlines
[b]y February 16, 2016, each party shall serve and file a
final comprehensive witness list indicating the identity of
each witness that the party will call at trial and describing
concisely the substance of the testimony to be given and the
estimated time required for the testimony of the witness on
Doc. No. 411, Second Am. Rule 16 Sched. Order ¶ 21.
February 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed a witness list consisting
of 86 “witnesses likely to be called, ” Doc. No.
433, whereas the first trial consisted of only twelve
witnesses in total (i.e., by all parties). The
February 17, 2016 proposed witness list included (1) NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell, (2) physicist Stephen Hawking and
his wife, and (3) approximately 43 NFL players (including,
for example, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Matt Schaub, and
unnamed “friends and family [of certain players] in
attendance”). Doc. No. 433.
February 29, 2016, the court held a pre-trial hearing
regarding the March 8, 2016 trial. At that hearing, the court
explained to Plaintiff that, although the court was not
limiting Plaintiff to calling only the same witnesses that
were called at the first trial, Plaintiff’s proposed
list of 86 potential witnesses was inappropriate.
Specifically, the court informed Plaintiff that she was not
permitted to “put on a totally different trial”
and explained in considerable detail that Defendants had a
right to depose new witnesses and to disclosure of new
evidence related to such witnesses. Doc. No. 463, Tr. at
15-20. It was clear that if Plaintiff desired to expand her
witness list substantively, then the trial could not proceed
on March 8, 2016. See, e.g., id. at 17,
24-25, 33. Plaintiff requested a continuance of the trial
date, to which Defendants consented, and trial was
rescheduled for August 23, 2016. Id. at 17, 28, 39;
Doc. No. 459.
the hearing, Plaintiff agreed to provide “a realistic
[witness] list with a fairly detailed description” of
proposed witness testimony. Tr. at 30-31. Plaintiff stated
“I will pare it down[.]” Id. at 43. The
court granted Plaintiff until April 15, 2016 to provide her
final witness list, including disclosures required under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a). Id. at 41-42.
The court warned Plaintiff -- and she acknowledged -- that
“[i]f you do another 82-witness list and [Defendants]
come in and object, I’m likely to sustain that
objection.” Id. at 65. The court told
Plaintiff -- and she acknowledged -- that
“[y]ou’ve got to get serious and really pare down
this witness list to a serious list.” Id. The
court set a July 1, 2016 deadline for any discovery related
to newly-named witnesses, thus allowing Defendants to conduct
discovery related to the new witnesses.
April 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of
Time to File Final Witness List, asking for “a few
weeks to a month to complete the tasks[.]” Doc. No.
468, Mot. at 4. The court granted the request, extending the
deadline for Plaintiff to provide her final witness list to
opposing counsel to May 6, 2016. Doc. No. 469. Plaintiff thus
had from February 29, 2016 until May 6, 2016 to shorten her
list of witnesses to a final list.
7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a witness list. The list is exactly
the same as the witness list previously filed on February 17,
2016. See Doc. No. 470; compare Doc. No.
on May 12, 2016, the State filed its Motion to Dismiss, or,
in the Alternative to Strike Plaintiff’s Witness List.
Doc. No. 471. And on May 13, 2016, the NFL filed its Motion
in Limine No. 7 to Exclude Testimony from Witnesses not
Called at the First Trial. Doc. No. 473.
Oppositions, Plaintiff explains that she uploaded the wrong
file on May 7, 2016, mistakenly filing the “list from
February” and not “the list [t]he Plaintiff had
been painfully working on.” Doc. No. 478, Mem. at 5;
Doc. No. 479, Mem. at 6. Nevertheless, Plaintiff has never
filed a correct final witness list -- and it has been over a
month since she claims she uploaded the wrong
file. Further, it is clear based on the hearing
on the Motions that Plaintiff did not subsequently ...