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R. Mason Green v. Vf Jeanswear Limited Partnership

February 23, 2012

R. MASON GREEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VF JEANSWEAR LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose Senior Judge, U.S. District Court

OPINION AND ORDER

SYNOPSIS

In this age discrimination case, the parties have filed several Motions in Limine. Through his Motions, Plaintiff seeks the following:1) to exclude evidence of his supplemental earnings; 2) to exclude evidence regarding the EEOC's determinations regarding his case; and 3) to include evidence of front pay damages. In turn, Defendant seeks the following: 1) to exclude evidence of the transfer of Plaintiff's smaller sales accounts to the Defendant's account services department; 2) to exclude evidence of the transfer of the Dick's Sporting Goods account; 3) to exclude certain testimony of Philip Horge; and 4) to exclude certain documents prepared by Kevin Walsh.

OPINION

I. APPLICABLE STANDARDS

Relevant evidence is defined as evidence "having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." Fed. R. Evid. 401. The standard embodied by Rule 401 is a liberal one. Kia v. Imaging Scis. Int'l, Inc., No. 8-5611, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90065, at *10 n. 3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 30, 2010). When considering relevance, a court determines the "relation between an item of evidence and a matter properly provable in the case." Blancha v. Raymark Indus., 972 F.2d 507, 514 (3d Cir. 1992).

In turn, relevant evidence may be excluded if its "probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence." Fed. R. Evid. 403. "Unfair prejudice" means "an undue tendency to suggest a decision on an improper basis.." Advisory Committee Note, Fed. R. Evid. 403. The inquiries under Rules 401 and 403 are fact-intensive, and context-specific. Sprint v. Mendelsohn, 552 U.S. 379, 128 S. Ct. 1140, 170 L. Ed. 2d 1 (2008). A court should be wary of excluding evidence in limine pursuant to Rule 403, because "[a] court cannot fairly ascertain the potential relevance of evidence for Rule 403 purposes until it has a full record relevant to the putatively objectionable evidence." In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 916 F.2d 829, 859 (3d Cir. 1999). "[W]hen the trial judge is in doubt, Rule 403 requires admission." Coleman v. Home Depot, Inc., 306 F.3d 1333, 1344 (3d Cir. 2002).

"[W]hile evidentiary rulings rest in the sound discretion of the court, that discretion should consistently be exercised in a fashion which resolves all doubts in favor of the admission of relevant proof in a proceeding, unless the relevance of that proof is substantially outweighed by some other factors which caution against admission. These broad principles favoring the admission of relevant evidence also shape and define the scope of this Court's discretion in addressing motions in limine.." Univac Dental Co. v. Dentsply Int'l, Inc., 268 F.R.D. 190, 197 (M.D. Pa. 2010).

The burden of establishing the admissibility and relevance of evidence rests on the proponent. E.g., Yibulayin v. Yellow Freight Sys., No. 4-3690, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23836, at *5 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 18, 2005).

II. PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS

A. SUPPLEMENTAL EARNINGS

First, I address Plaintiff's contention that evidence of his unemployment benefits, pension benefits, and social security retirement benefits should be excluded under the collateral source doctrine. Under Pennsylvania law, "[t]he collateral source rule provides that payments from a collateral source shall not diminish the damages otherwise recoverable from the wrongdoer." Nigra v. Walsh, 797 A.2d 353, 356 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2002). Thus, collateral source evidence is often excluded as irrelevant, or because any potential relevance is outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice to the plaintiff. See, e.g., Cheeseboro v. Big Lots, 5-1207, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62945, at *5 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 5, 2006). Here, Defendant contests Plaintiff's Motion solely on the basis that it is unknown whether the evidence at trial might render such evidence a proper subject of cross-examination, for a permissible purpose. Plaintiff's Motion is granted, except to the extent that developments at trial render Plaintiff's supplemental earnings an appropriate subject of cross-examination.

B. EEOC EVIDENCE

Next, I reach Plaintiff's Motion to exclude evidence of the EEOC determination regarding his charge. Defendant represents that it does not intend to introduce evidence concerning the EEOC's determination, and does not contest Plaintiff's assertion that the evidence may be excluded pursuant to Coleman v. Home Depot, Inc., 306 F.3d 1333');">306 F. 3d 1333 (3d Cir. 2002).*fn1 To that extent, therefore, Plaintiff's Motion is granted. Of course, as Defendant suggests, if the evidence presented at trial renders information relating to the EEOC determination relevant for some other purpose -- ...


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