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Nwegbo v. Colwyn Borough

United States District Court, Third Circuit

July 10, 2013

SUNDAY NWEGBO
v.
COLWYN BOROUGH, et al.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JACOB P. HART, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Sunday Nwegbo, a Councilman of Colwyn Borough, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against the Borough, its then police lieutenant, Wendell Reed, Councilwomen Tonette Pray, Patrolman Clinton Craddock, and Borough Treasurer, MacDonald Ford. The action stems from incidents that took place at a Borough council meeting on June 9, 2011. The only remaining defendants are Clinton Craddock and Wendell Reed. Nwegbo alleges that he was unlawfully arrested and attacked by Reed and Craddock and that these actions were in violation of his First Amendment rights because they were in retaliation for his protected speech at the Council meeting.

Currently pending is Defendants' Motion in Limine to Preclude Plaintiff from introducing evidence pertaining to the existence, averments, facts of and evidence from any and all other lawsuits involving the Defendants. Defendants seek to preclude testimony regarding ongoing litigation involving some of the defendants in this case, as well as any evidence regarding employment disputes between the parties.

DISCUSSION:

Defendants argue that pursuant to the Federal Rules of Evidence Plaintiff should be precluded from introducing evidence or testimony pertaining to the other lawsuits involving the defendants. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 402, any evidence that is not relevant is not admissible. Federal Rule of Evidence 401 provides that evidence is relevant if "(a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable then it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action." Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 403, even relevant evidence may be excluded "if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence." Furthermore, under Rule 404(b), "[e]vidence of a crime, wrong or other act is not admissible to prove a person's character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character." Fed.R.Evid. 404(b)(1). The evidence would be admissible only to demonstrate "motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident. " Fed.R.Evid. 404(b)(2).

The lawsuits involving the defendants are as follows: Clarke v. Banks, et al, Docket No. 12-3668 (E.D. Pa):

In Clarke v. Banks, et al, "Craddock alleges that he brought various instances of his co-workers' wrongdoing to the attention of his superiors Lt. Wendell Reed and Councilwomen Tonette Pray. He alleges that in return, Colwyn Borough terminated his employment in retaliation for his good faith reporting of wrongdoing." (Defendants' Motion).

Craddock v. Darby Borough, Docket No. 12-4519 (E.D. Pa):

Craddock brought this action against Darby Borough and its police chief, alleging assault and battery and racial discrimination. He alleges that he reported the discrimination to the public and as a result faced further retaliation from the police officials in Darby in violation of his First Amendment rights.

Robinson v. Colwyn Borough, 12-4696 (E.D. Pa):

Plaintiff in this action alleges that Reed and Pray unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of race and terminated his employment in retaliation for First Amendment protected activity. He also alleges an ongoing conspiracy.

Pour v. Craddock, Docket No. 13-1084 (E.D. Pa):

This case involves an allegation of excessive force against Craddock during an arrest on March 1, 2011, while Craddock was employed as an officer for Colwyn Borough.

As Defendants argue, the lawsuits involve entirely separate claims from those involved in this case, as well as different parties. We agree that the relevance of the issues involved in these other actions to determining Plaintiff's claims of malicious prosecution, false arrest, false imprisonment and a First Amendment violation is questionable, at best. For example, Craddock's whistleblower claim against Colwyn Borough and Lt. Reed, his co-defendant in this case, seems to be irrelevant to any issues involved in this action. The case involves allegations that his employment was terminated in retaliation for his reporting wrongdoing. The claims do not seem to be at all related to Plaintiff Nwegbo's claims against Craddock and Reed in this case. ...


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