United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
THOMAS G. FIGANIAK and VALERIE A. FIGANIAK, as Administrators of the Estate of Kevin Figaniak, Plaintiffs,
FRATERNAL ORDER OF OWL'S HOME NEST, LOYAL ORDER OF OWLS NEST LODGE 2558, d/b/a THE OWLS NEST, a West Virginia corporation, YE OLDE ALPHA, INC., a West Virginia corporation, CRAIG TYLER PEACOCK, individually, JARRETT CHANDLER, individually, and TYLER JOHNSON, individually, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING
PLAINTIFFS' OBJECTIONS TO JURY VIEW
FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
13, 2017, defendant Tyler Johnson (“Johnson”)
filed a motion for a jury view of certain sites described in
the motion that will be mentioned during the trial of this
civil action, and which are located at or near Edgington Lane
and Locust Avenue in Wheeling, West Virginia. ECF No. 223.
This Court conditionally granted that motion, permitting a
jury view if conducted in compliance with the procedures set
forth in that order. ECF No. 225. The plaintiffs' counsel
then filed a letter to this Court regarding the motion, which
this Court has received and reviewed, as well as a response
in opposition to Johnson's motion for a jury view. This
memorandum opinion and order serves to reaffirm this
Court's prior order conditionally granting Johnson's
motion for a jury view.
have “inherent power to permit a jury view of places or
objects outside the courtroom, ” and such decisions are
“entrusted to the sound discretion of the 
court.” United States v. Simmons, 380 F.
App'x 323, 327 (4th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks
omitted). A view may be refused where: (1) the location of
the view has changed significantly since the time of the
event, see United States v. Moonda, 347 F. App'x
192, 201 (6th Cir. 2009); United States v. Davis,
127 F.3d 68, 70 (D.C. Cir. 1997); United States v.
Culpepper, 834 F.2d 879, 883 (10th Cir. 1987); (2)
evidence in the trial is sufficient to give the jury an
adequate picture of the scene, see Moonda, 347 F.
App'x at 201; United States v. Chiquito, 175 F.
App'x 215, 217 (10th Cir. 2006); Kelley v.
Wegman's Food Mkts., Inc., 98 F. App'x 102, 105
(3d Cir. 2004); or (3) a view presents logistical
difficulties, including undue delay, difficulty of travel,
and difficulty of control. See Gunther v. E. I. Du Pont
De Nemours & Co., 255 F.2d 710, 716 (4th Cir. 1958);
Jones v. Consolidated Coal Co., No. 1:13CV11, 2014
WL 1091214, *4 (N.D. W.Va. Mar. 19, 2014).
the plaintiffs argue that “there is no foundation to
determine what, if any, changes have been made to the scene
over the last three years.” ECF No. 229 at 2. The
plaintiffs do not identify any specific changes that have
been made to the scene. Rather, they only speculate that
construction or natural elements may have changed the
configuration of features at the scene of the fight. If the
parties are aware of any specific, significant changes to the
scene, they may notify this Court in a timely fashion, and
this Court will note any relevant changes for the jury during
the plaintiffs argue that photographs, testimony, and
skillful advocacy will be sufficient to give the jury a
picture of the scene. They also note that because the
incident happened before dawn and a jury view would happened
during the day, the view will not accurately depict the
conditions present at the time of the fight.
parties' use of photographs at trial will not eliminate
the benefits of a jury view, as the jurors may have a better
understanding of the evidence and testimony having physically
viewed and walked through the scene. Further, daylight will
not alter the benefits of the view, as this Court is
confident the jury will understand that the fight occurred
before daylight hours. Other details regarding the
parties' actions and argument at the scene will be
brought out through testimony and evidence, and the view will
serve to assist the jury in understanding that evidence.
the plaintiffs argue that the view will be too time consuming
and hard to control. They further argue that the jury may be
encouraged to conduct its own investigation of the scene or
be confused by the relevance of the jury view.
Court believes that a proper limiting instruction regarding
the purpose of the view and an admonishment that the jury is
not to conduct its own investigation of the scene will be
sufficient to control the jury view and prevent unfair
prejudice or confusion. Further, because the scene is not far
from the courtroom and the distance the jury will be asked to
walk is minimal, this Court believes adherence to the
conditions set forth in its prior order conditionally
granting Johnson's motion for a jury view (ECF No. 225)
will be sufficient to ensure the view is not unduly time
consuming and will be logistically feasible.
reasons set forth above, this Court believes a view will
assist the jury in understanding the testimony and other
evidence at trial. Accordingly, this Court's prior order
conditionally granting Johnson's motion for a jury view
(ECF No. 225) is REAFFIRMED and the plaintiffs'
objections (ECF No. 229) are OVERRULED.
Clerk is DIRECTED to transmit a copy of this memorandum
opinion and order to counsel of record herein.
For a more thorough background of this
civil action, see ECF ...