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Bradford v. UPMC

January 18, 2008

MARLA D. BRADFORD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UPMC, A PENNSYLVANIA NON-STOCK NON-PROFIT CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



MEMORANDUM ORDER OF COURT

Presently before the Court is the DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE, with brief in support (Document Nos. 81 and 82) and the RESPONSE in opposition filed by Plaintiff (Document No. 83). The requests will be addressed seriatim.

1. Request to Exclude Statistical Evidence

Plaintiff seeks to introduce evidence related to "the racial makeup of management employees in the UPMC Corporate Services Business Unit and the racial make-up of the employees working for and/or reporting to certain UPMC management employees who had involvement in the alleged racial discrimination against the Plaintiff." Defendant argues that for such statistical information to be relevant it must be probative of race discrimination as an explanation for the Plaintiff's failure to be promoted and/or her employment being terminated.

Additionally, Defendant points out that Judge Hardiman previously ruled that only applicant flow statistical data which is shown by expert testimony to be significant could be used to infer race bias from statistics. The law of the case doctrine generally forbids one district court from reconsidering issues that another district court decided in the same case. See In re City of Phila. Litig., 158 F.3d 711, 717 (3d Cir. 1998). The doctrine applies "as much to the decisions of a coordinate court in the same case as to a court's own decisions." Christianson v. Colt Industries Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 816 (1988). Because it prevents courts from entertaining endless litigation of the same issue, the doctrine promotes finality and judicial economy. Pub. Interest Research Group v. Magnesium Elektron, Inc., 123 F.3d 111, 116 (3d Cir. 1997). The law of the case doctrine, though, is not absolute. A district court may reconsider a previous decision that has become law of the case under four circumstances: (1) where the transferor judge becomes unavailable, thereby precluding a party from filing a motion for reconsideration; (2) where new evidence is available; (3) where a supervening change in law occurs; or (4) where the decision was clearly erroneous and would work a manifest injustice. See In re City of Phila. Litig., 158 F.3d at 718; Bridge v. United States Parole Com., 981 F.2d 97, 103 (3d Cir.1992).

Plaintiff does not deny that Judge Hardiman previously ruled that only statistically significant applicant flow data could be used nor does she argue that Judge Hardiman's decision should be reconsidered; rather Plaintiff argues that "[t]he problem that Plaintiff has encountered in connection therewith was that UPMC had failed to maintain or preserve or was otherwise unable to produce any records or information relative to applicant flow . . . ." Pl's Response at 4.

The Court will follow the law of the case doctrine and grant this motion in limine, unless the Plaintiff can establish that UPMC had a duty to maintain applicant flow statistical data and somehow breached that duty.

2. Request to Exclude Evidence That Other African-American Employees of UPMC Were Discriminated Against Or Suffered Adverse Employment Actions

Defendant seeks to exclude anticipated testimony or evidence relative to alleged discriminatory treatment suffered by other African-American employees of UPMC, namely Charese Threet, Janese Jones-Stewart, Lynette Taylor-Creigo, Rebecca Taite, and Daniel DogoEskie. Plaintiff responds that she will not be offering any evidence relative to alleged discriminatory treatment received by Charese Threet, Lynette Taylor-Creigo, Rebecca Taite, or Daniel Dogo-Eskie. Pl's Memo. at 8. Plaintiff's representation in this regard is acknowledged and therefore, the request of Defendant to exclude this anticipated testimony is DENIED AS MOOT.

As to Janese Jones-Stewart, Plaintiff responds that she will not be offering testimony with regard to Ms. Jones-Stewart (i) receiving a discipline that was later overturned and/or (ii) that Ms. Jones-Stewart was told that child-care issues arising from delays in the start of the school day due to a snow storm was not an acceptable excuse for not being at work on time. Accordingly, the request of Defendant to exclude anticipated testimony in these two regards is DENIED AS MOOT.

However, Plaintiff does anticipate offering testimony that Ms. Jones-Stewart was told that she needed a college degree in order to remain in the position she held within the UPMC Human Resources Department, but that when Ms. Jones-Stewart vacated the position in 2000, the position was filled by a Caucasian individual who did not possess a college degree.

Evidence of discriminatory actions taken against other employees within the same protected class as the plaintiff is usually excluded either on relevance grounds or as unfairly prejudicial under Federal Rule of Evidence 403, unless there is substantial similarity between the decisionmakers, the time frame, and the type of action about which the co-workers offer to testify and the plaintiff's circumstance. See Moorehouse v. Boeing Corp., 501 F. Supp. 390 (E.D. Pa.), aff'd mem., 636 F.2d 774 (1980). Where the circumstances involved in the treatment of the other employees are similar to the circumstances involved in the plaintiff's treatment, the evidence will generally be allowed. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 804 (1973); Abrams v. Ligholier, Inc., 50 F.3d 1204, 1212 (3d Cir. 1995).

The Court finds and rules that under these standards, the evidence which Plaintiff proposes to offer with regard to Ms. Jones-Stewart is not relevant and would be unduly prejudicial.

First, Ms. Jones-Stewart testified that in approximately July of 1998, Ms. Margaret Markovich told her that she needed a degree to become an HRIS Specialist. The comment allegedly made by Ms. Markovich is remote in time and bears no similarity whatsoever to either the denial of Plaintiff's promotion in January 2003 or Plaintiff's disciplinary discharge in March 2003.

Second, Ms. Markovich was not a decision-maker in any of the events surrounding Plaintiff's denial of a promotion or disciplinary discharge. Undeniably, Ms. Markovich was involved in gathering witness statements, but she did not investigate the incident ...


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