Odgers v. Progressive N. Ins. Co., 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196483 (November 1, 2023) (Mariani, J.).
With the Defendant’s Motion in Limine to Preclude Golden Rule Arguments, Defendant requests the Court to preclude Plaintiff, her counsel, or any representative to make reference to any of the following matters in the presence of the jury:
a. Argument by Plaintiff’s counsel asking the jury to stand in Plaintiff’s shoes, i.e., the “golden rule” argument;
b. Plaintiff’s counsel’s personal beliefs and opinions about the case, the “justice” of the case, or Plaintiff’s “right” to recover damages;
c. References, arguments, testimony, or comments referring to Plaintiff as “victims;”
d. Argument asking the jury to “send a message,” to act as “the conscience of the community,” or to improperly decide the case based on passion and prejudice[.]
Given the guidance on the propriety of a “Golden Rule” argument in these cases, to adopt Plaintiff’s position that “‘stand in plaintiff’s shoes’ argument” is not prohibited and any potential harm can be cured with the jury instructions”, would be to condone improper argument that amounts to misconduct. This the Court will not do. Therefore, the Court concludes that Defendant’s motion is properly granted. Importantly, this determination does not mean that Plaintiff’s counsel cannot present evidence about Plaintiff that may put her in a sympathetic light if he does so without violating any rule of evidence or the prohibition on a “Golden Rule” argument. See Davies By and Through Davies v. Lackawanna County, Civ. A. No. 3:15-CV-1183, at *5, 2018 WL 924205 (M.D. Pa Feb. 14, 2018)).
For the reasons discussed above, Defendant’s Motion in Limine to Preclude Golden Rule Arguments (Doc. 65) will be granted in part and denied in part. The Motion will be granted insofar as Plaintiff will be precluded from presenting any “Golden Rule” argument at trial. The Motion will be denied without prejudice as to other issues improperly raised in the Motion.