Baker v. City of McKinney, Civil Action No. 4:21-CV-00176

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
Citation608 F.Supp.3d 457
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 4:21-CV-00176
Parties Vicki BAKER, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF MCKINNEY, TEXAS, Defendant.
Decision Date21 June 2022

608 F.Supp.3d 457

Vicki BAKER, Plaintiff,

Civil Action No. 4:21-CV-00176

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division.

Signed June 21, 2022

608 F.Supp.3d 459

Jeffrey H. Redfern, Robert James McNamara, Suranjan Sen, William Aronin, Institute for Justice, Arlington, VA, for Plaintiff.

Edwin Armstrong Price Voss, Jr., Michael Lee Martin, Brown & Hofmeister, Richardson, TX, for Defendant.



Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion in Limine (Dkt. #61). Having reviewed the motion, the response, and the applicable law, the Court finds the motion should be GRANTED.

608 F.Supp.3d 460


This case arises from the uncompensated damages to Plaintiff Vicki Baker's ("Baker") home following the City of McKinney Police Department's (the "Department") standoff with an armed fugitive that occurred on July 25, 2020.

Baker alleges that extensive damage to her home resulted from the Department's standoff. Department officers documented the damage to Baker's home in their police records. One officer documented the damage through photographs, which show "the toppled fence and battered front door; the broken windows; the damaged roof and landscaping; the blown-out garage door; and the garage ceiling, attic floor, and dry walls all torn through with gas canisters" (Dkt. #19 at p. 4). Much of the damage went beyond what could be captured visually:

The explosions left [ ] Baker's dog permanently blind and deaf. The toxic gas that permeated the [H]ouse required the services of a HAZMAT remediation team. Appliances and fabrics were irreparable. Ceiling fans, plumbing, floors (hard surfaces as well as carpet), and bricks needed to be replaced—in addition to the windows, blinds, fence, front door, and garage door. Essentially all of the personal property in the [H]ouse was destroyed, including an antique doll collection left to [ ] Baker by her mother.

(Dkt. #19 at pp. 4–5). Baker requested Defendant City of McKinney (the "City") compensate her for the damages to her home. However, to this day, the City has refused to provide Baker any compensation.

On March 3, 2021, Baker filed suit against the City for violations of the Takings Clauses of both the United States and Texas Constitutions. On April 29, 2022, the Court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Baker, and determined that the City's conduct constituted a taking under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and under Article 1, Section 17 of the Texas Constitution (Dkt. #51). Notably, the Court found the City liable directly under the self-executing Fifth Amendment, holding that claims pursuant to the Takings Clause do not require the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 vessel necessary for other constitutional claims. However, because Baker also brought a claim under § 1983, the Court considered this claim as well, ultimately finding an issue of fact that the Court declined to resolve at summary judgment. Further, the Court did not determine the amount of just compensation to which Baker is entitled. Accordingly, damages and the City's liability under § 1983 are issues that have been reserved for jury determination at trial.

On May 5, 2022, counsel for the City took Baker's deposition. During that deposition, Baker attested that, in total, she is seeking $50,000 for the damages to her home and loss of personal property. She arrived at this amount based on the total cost of repairs she incurred, as well as the value of permanently destroyed personal property. While Baker did pay some of the repair costs out of her own pocket, she admitted that many of the repairs were either covered by charitable or private donations, or were paid for by her insurance (Dkt. #61, Exhibit 1, pp. 8–10).

On June 6, 2022, Baker filed the present motion, seeking to exclude any evidence of donations or insurance proceeds she received to help repair her home (Dkt. #61). She argues that such evidence is not admissible at trial under the collateral source rule and, likewise, cannot be used to reduce the amount of just compensation to which she is entitled. On June 16, 2022, the City filed its response, generally arguing that it is inappropriate to apply the collateral

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source rule—a rule applicable in torts cases—to a takings case (Dkt. #62). Baker filed a reply the same day (Dkt. #63), and the City filed a sur-reply one day later (Dkt. #64). Jury trial in this case began on June 20, 2022.


"The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow the trial court to rule in advance of trial on the admissibility and relevance of certain forecasted evidence." Harris v. BMW of N. Am., LLC , No. 4:19-CV-00016, 2022 WL 125345, at *1 (E.D. Tex. Jan. 12, 2022) (quoting Harkness v. Bauhaus U.S.A., Inc. , 2015 WL 631512, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Feb. 13, 2015) ). "The Fifth Circuit has observed that ‘[m]otions in limine are frequently made in the abstract and in anticipation of some hypothetical circumstance that may not develop at trial.’ " Brown v. Carr , No. C-04-471, 2008 WL 167313, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 16, 2008) (quoting Collins v. Wayne Corp. , 621 F.2d 777, 784 (5th Cir. 1980) ). "Evidentiary rulings, especially those addressing broad classes of evidence, should often be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice can be resolved in proper context." Id. (citing Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. , 519 F.2d 708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975) ). Finally, "[t]he purpose of motions in limine is not to re-iterate matters which are set forth elsewhere in the Rules of Civil Procedure or Rules of Evidence, but, rather, to identify specific issues which are likely to arise at trial, and which, due to their complexity or potentially prejudicial nature, are best addressed in the context of a motion in limine." Maggette v. BL Dev. Corp. , 2011 WL 2134578, at *4 (N.D. Miss. May 21, 2011) (emphasis in original).


As an exercise of sovereignty, the government has the authority to take private property for a public purpose. "In England, when the king did so, payment for what was taken was, at least before the Magna Carta, a sometime thing, and largely at the discretion of the sovereign." Hendler v. United States , 952 F.2d 1364, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 1991) (citing 1 P. NICHOLS , The Law of Eminent Domain § 2 (1917)). But in the United States, compensation for a government taking is not left up "to the sovereign's good will"—it is an entitlement guaranteed by the Constitution. Id. One need look no further for confirmation than to the final clause of the Fifth Amendment: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." U.S. CONST. amend. V. The fundamental purpose of the Fifth Amendment is to ensure landowners are justly compensated by the government when their property is taken under sovereign authority. It is from this constitutional guarantee that the question presently before the Court arises: What compensation is just?

In answering this question, the City argues that because Baker received donations and insurance proceeds to cover her repair costs, she has already been at least partially compensated, and thus these amounts must be reduced from the "just compensation" owed by the City (Dkt. #62). On the other hand, Baker contends that the collateral source rule applies to exclude any evidence of compensation she received from third-party collateral sources (Dkt. #61). To this, the City makes two primary responses: (1) the collateral source rule is a tort concept meant to apply to tortfeasors and does not apply to a takings claim where the government acted under a valid police power; and (2) collateral benefits are relevant to determining just compensation (Dkt. #62 at p. 6).

The issue of whether the collateral source rule applies to a takings claim has

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not yet been addressed by a Texas court or any court within the Fifth Circuit. In fact, as even the City admits, there is not a single court—state or federal—addressing the issue within the context of the instant action (Dkt. #64 at p. 3). Put differently, no court has discussed how just compensation should be determined in a takings case, arising out of law enforcement activities, where the plaintiff receives monetary funds from collateral third parties to repair property damages caused by the taking. The Court is, therefore, presented with an issue of first impression. However, based on the facts of this case, the Court finds it unnecessary to decide whether, as a matter of law, the collateral source rule applies to takings claims. Instead, regardless of the collateral source rule's applicability, the Court finds that the policies underlying the rule apply here to exclude any evidence of donations and benefits Baker received in repairing the damages to her home.

I. Whether the Collateral Source Rule Applies in Takings Claims

The collateral source rule provides:

[T]he fact that an injured person receives from a collateral source payments which may have some tendency to mitigate

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