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Limary v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 22, 2018

CRYSTAL LIMARY, an individual Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., an Ohio corporation, and JOHN/JANE DOES I-X, whose true identities are unknown, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Edward J. Lodge United States District Judge

         Before the Court in the above entitled matter are: Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt. 35); (2) Defendant's Motions in Limine #1 through #15 (Dkt. 34); and (3) Plaintiff's First Motions in Limine (Dkt. 33). The parties have filed responsive briefing and the motions are now ripe for the Court's consideration.

         Having fully reviewed the record herein, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the motions shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint against Defendant on August 10, 2015. (Dkt. 1-2). Originally, she brought claims of sexual discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and the Idaho Human Rights. Id. On September 20, 2017, the Court granted summary judgment on Plaintiff's sexual discrimination claims preserving for trial only the claims of retaliation. (Dkt. 28). In doing so, the Court considered the specific allegations Ms. Limary made in support of both her sexual discrimination and retaliation claims and determined whether the record on summary judgment supported either of the claims.

         Plaintiff now seeks reconsideration of a small aspect of that summary judgment decision. In addition, both parties have filed motions in limine to help clarify certain evidentiary issues in advance of trial.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt. 35)

         Plaintiff asks the Court to reconsider that part of the Court's September 20, 2017 Memorandum Decision and Order stating that Plaintiff cannot rely upon her transfer to the night shift as evidence in support of her retaliation claim. (Dkt. 35) The Order states:

Ms. Limary was transferred to night shift in January 2013 and her first protected activity did not occur until February 2013 when she reported Mr. Tolbert to HR…. Accordingly, Ms. Limary's transfer to the evening shift could not have been a retaliatory adverse employment action and she cannot rely upon this fact to support her retaliation claim.

(Dkt. 28, p. 14.)

         Pursuant to Rule 54(b), the Court has broad discretion to reconsider its summary judgment order. “[A]ny order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims . . . may be revised at any time before entry of a judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b).

         “The general rule regarding the power of a district court to rescind an interlocutory order is as follows: ‘As long as a district court has jurisdiction over the case, then it possesses the inherent procedural power to reconsider, rescind, or modify an interlocutory order for cause seen by it to be sufficient.'” City of Los Angeles, Harbor Div. v. Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 885 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Melancon v. Texaco, Inc., 659 F.2d 551, 553 (5th Cir.1981)).

         The Court grants Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and clarifies that its factual findings on summary judgment were based on the record before the Court at that time and are limited to the summary judgment motion. However, the legal conclusions are unchanged: Plaintiff may proceed with her retaliation claims. At trial, Plaintiff is not precluded from putting on evidence concerning her transfer to the night shift and the parties can argue to the jury whether that evidence supports her retaliation claims.

         2. Motions in Limine

         This Order sets forth the Court's views on the matters raised in the Motions and is intended to give the parties direction on those evidentiary issues to assist in their trial preparation. The Court's ruling stated herein is preliminary and may be subject to revision upon consideration of a particular evidentiary issue presented within the context of the trial.

         A. Standard of Review

         “A motion in limine is a procedural mechanism to limit in advance testimony or evidence in a particular area.” Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank, 735 F.3d 1158, 1162 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting United States v. Heller, 551 F.3d 1108, 1111 (9th Cir. 2009)). Stated differently, a motion in limine is used “to exclude anticipated prejudicial evidence before the evidence is actually offered” Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n. 2 (1984). “Motions in limine are well-established devices that streamline trials and settle evidentiary disputes in advance, so that trials are not interrupted mid-course for the consideration of lengthy and complex evidentiary issues.” United States v. Tokash, 282 F.3d 962, 968 (7th Cir. 2002). Although not expressly authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the Federal Rules of Evidence, district courts have inherent authority to consider motions in limine to manage the course of trials. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41 n.4; Ohler v. United States, 529 U.S. 753, 758 n. 3 (2000) (Motions in limine are a well-recognized judicial practice authorized under case law.).

         Denial of a motion in limine does not mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted at trial. Instead, denial of such a motion simply means the Court is unable to determine whether the evidence should be excluded outside of the trial context. At trial, the parties may object to the offering of evidence even though such evidence was the subject of the Court's ruling on a motion in limine. Where a motion in limine is granted, however, the parties are precluded from arguing, discussing, or offering the particular evidence that the Court has ordered to be excluded unless the Court rules otherwise during the course of the trial.

         Trial judges are afforded “wide discretion” in determining whether evidence is relevant. United States v. Alvarez, 358 F.3d 1194, 1205 (9th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). Because “[a]n in limine order precluding the admission of evidence or testimony is an evidentiary ruling, ” United States v. Komisaruk, 885 F.2d 490, 493 (9th Cir. 1989) (citation omitted) “a district court has discretion in ruling on a motion in limine.” United States v. Ravel, 930 F.2d 721, 726 (9th Cir. 1991) (citing Komisaruk, supra). In exercising that discretion, however, courts must be careful not to resolve factual disputes or to weigh evidence when ruling on a motion in limine. C & E Servs., Inc. v. Ashland Inc., 539 F.Supp.2d 316, 323 (D.D.C. 2008) (“[A] motion in limine should not be used to resolve factual disputes or weigh evidence.”). To exclude evidence on a motion in limine “the evidence must be inadmissible on all potential grounds.” Ind. Ins. Co. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 326 F.Supp.2d 844, 846 (N.D. Ohio 2004) (citing Luce, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n. 4). “Unless evidence meets this high standard, evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context.” Hawthorne Partners v. AT & T Tech., Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993).

         B. Defendant's Motions in Limine #1 through #15 (Dkt. 34)

         (1) Testimony and/or Evidence of Sexual Discrimination

         This motion is denied. Defendant seeks an order precluding all evidence or testimony concerning sexual discrimination as a general rule at trial. The Court dismissed these claims. However, Plaintiff is proceeding to trial on her retaliation claims, which are based on her complaint of sexual discrimination. Therefore, the Court cannot issue a blanket ruling disallowing all evidence of sexual discrimination. The discrimination complaints provide the context for the retaliation claim. Accordingly, Plaintiff must be permitted to provide some explanation for the reasons she ...


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