Party’s Lay Testimony of Own Mental Health Deemed Admissible for Determining Willfulness and Damages Award​

The court denied plaintiff’s motion in limine to exclude evidence regarding defendant’s mental health, as well as defendant’s lay testimony regarding her mental health, because this evidence was potentially relevant to and probative of the remaining issues of willfulness and determination of a statutory damages award. “⁠[E]vidence of a mental disability may be relevant to the issues of whether [defendant] recklessly disregarded the possibility that her conduct constituted copyright infringement. Moreover, [defendant’s] diagnosis of bipolar disorder is relevant to the issue of statutory damages. One factor the jury may consider in fixing the amount of statutory damages is deterrence. [Defendant] has indicated that she intends to prove that her bipolar disorder contributed to her copyright infringement and that her disorder has since been controlled through medication. The jury may consider this evidence and conclude that it diminishes the need to award a large amount of statutory damages to deter future infringing conduct. . . . [Plaintiff] contends that without the guidance of expert testimony, lay testimony about mental health issues may confuse the jury or lead to unfair prejudice. . . . [H]owever, the lay mental health testimony is probative of the issues to be decided by the jury. The court concludes that the probative value of this evidence is not substantially outweighed by any danger of unfair prejudice. Finally, [plaintiff] argues that [defendant] cannot present lay testimony about her mental health issues because only expert testimony may be admitted on this issue. . . . [However, plaintiff] has provided no authority for the proposition that evidence of mental health issues must always be presented by an expert. Nor has she presented authority that individuals should be prohibited from testifying about their mental processes and their general mental state, especially where the individual’s state of mind is a central issue in the case.”

Nunes v. Rushton, 2-14-cv-00627 (UTD 2018-05-14, Order) (Jill N. Parrish)

2018-05-16T11:53:02+00:00May 16th, 2018|Copyright, Docket Report|