United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff Cynthia Fuller's Motion in
Limine (Dkt. 115) and Defendants Idaho Department of
Corrections, Brent Reinke, and Henry Atencio's
(collectively “IDOC”) Motion in Limine (Dkt.
reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the
facts and legal arguments are adequately presented.
Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and
because the Court finds that the decisional process would not
be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will
decide the Motions without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc.
Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons outlined below, the
Court will GRANT in PART and DENY in PART each Motion.
Court will not set out the lengthy factual and legal history
of this case at the present time, but will give a brief
case, Fuller alleges that IDOC, through its supervisors,
created a hostile work environment under Title VII, because
of her gender, based upon their actions following her report
that she had been raped by a co-worker-Herbt Cruz, with whom
she had a relationship. IDOC denies it created a hostile work
Fuller originally asserted numerous causes of action,
following summary judgment at the District Court and an
appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the sole
remaining claim at issue (and the claim that will go to
trial), is a hostile work environment claim. In a 2-1
decision, the Ninth Circuit determined that the District
Court erred in granting summary judgment to IDOC on
Fuller's hostile work environment claim because “a
reasonable trier of fact could  find that the IDOC's
actions were sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a
hostile work environment.” Fuller v. Idaho
Dep't of Corr., 865 F.3d 1154, 1164 (9th Cir. 2017),
cert. denied sub nom. Idaho Dep't of Correction v.
Fuller, 138 S.Ct. 1345 (2018).
anticipation of the upcoming trial, and pursuant to the
Court's trial order (Dkt. 108), both parties filed
motions in limine seeking to preclude certain evidence and
testimony at trial. The Court will address each in turn.
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.” Miller v.
Lemhi Cty., No. 4:15-CV-00156-DCN, 2018 WL 1144970, at
*1 (D. Idaho Mar. 2, 2018) (citing United States v.
Tokash, 282 F.3d 962, 968 (7th Cir. 2002)). “The
term ‘in limine' means ‘at the outset.' A
motion in limine is a procedural mechanism to limit in
advance testimony or evidence in a particular area.”
United States v. Heller, 551 F.3d 1108, 1111 (9th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 803 (8th ed.
“[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).
Further, in limine rulings are preliminary and, therefore,
“are not binding on the trial judge [who] may always
change his mind during the course of a trial.”
Ohler v. United States, 529 U.S. 753, 758 n.3
Plaintiff's Motions in Limine
Exclusion of testimony by defendants that they relied on, or
communicated with, the Attorney General's Office when
making certain decisions.
Fuller seeks an order from the Court prohibiting IDOC from
asserting that they communicated with-or relied upon
communications with-the Idaho Attorney General's Office.
Even though IDOC has not alleged an “advice of
counsel” defense, Fuller contends that because they
have not answered pertinent questions or turned over relevant
documents related to this topic, they have functionally
claimed this privilege which is unduly prejudicial. IDOC
counters that they have not asserted this defense and
further, that they can shield these communications and
documents from disclosure as privileged.
strategic choice not to turn over certain documents under an
“attorney-client” privilege theory is their
right; however, they cannot then use those same materials
against Fuller. Because IDOC has all but prohibited discovery
on this issue, any inference or suggestion that they
contacted the Attorney General's Office will not be
allowed at trial. Again, IDOC's choice to take this path
is within their discretion, and such is not sanctionable
(outside of what is imposed in this decision by way of
limiting that evidence) or inappropriate, but IDOC must live
with the consequences of their litigation choices.
Exclusion of the fact that Cruz was not charged with a crime.
Motion, Fuller asks the Court to prohibit the admission of
any evidence that Cruz was ultimately never charged with a
crime-either as to J.W. or Fuller. Fuller contends the
information is irrelevant and prejudicial. IDOC counters that
the information is relevant because Fuller has testified that
she was frustrated that Cruz was never charged with a crime
and that this frustration might have contributed to her
become clearer below, both parties and the Court appear to
share a common concern. That concern is that the focus of
this case is not on Cruz or Cruz's behavior, but
on IDOC's behavior. To be sure, Cruz's behavior is
what ultimately lead to this case, but the remaining claim at
issue goes solely to IDOC's actions-or lack thereof.
motion is a prime example. Whether Cruz was ultimately
charged with a crime is currently irrelevant. If either party
believes that the relevancy of this information changes
during trial, they can address it outside the presence of the
jury and the Court will make a determination at that time.
Exclusion of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's
decision denying Fuller unemployment benefits.
to IDOC's agreement on this matter, evidence of
IDHW's denial of Fuller's unemployment benefits claim
will not be allowed at trial. If IDOC feels that Fuller has
opened the door to this subject, a hearing outside the
presence of the jury will be necessary.
Exclusion of the Idaho Human Rights Commission's Findings
Fuller asks the Court to preclude all evidence of the Idaho
Human Rights Commission's (“the Commission”)
report in which it (the Commission) found there was no
probable cause to further investigate IDOC and dismissed her
case. Fuller claims that this is essentially hearsay, but
more importantly, that it would be extremely prejudicial.
IDOC agrees that the statements in the report itself are
hearsay and inadmissible but argues that the report itself is
admissible under various evidentiary rules.
appears there is a dispute among the Circuits as to whether
an EEOC report is per se admissible at trial. Even within the
Ninth Circuit, there appears to be a clear distinction
between reports that concluded there was probable cause
versus reports where no probable cause was found, and a
distinction between who is offering the report at trial:
Plaintiff or Defendant. Upon review of these cases, it