United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE AT ECF 110, 118, 115,
104, 102, 120, AND 112
NICHOLAS RANJAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
an employment discrimination case brought under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A jury trial is set to begin on
August 26, 2019. On August 16, 2019, this Court entered an
Order on the above-titled motions at ECF 154. Below is the
Court's reasoning in support of that Order:
to Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Testimony by
Thomas Linder (ECF 110), the Motion is DENIED.
Post Office moved to exclude the testimony of Post Office
manager Thomas Linder, arguing that Mr. Linder has no
relevant knowledge to the issues in this case because he has
little recollection of Ms. Branch and was not involved in her
termination. In response, Plaintiff argues that Richard
Gurneal, the decision-maker who terminated Ms. Branch, stated
under oath in a 2012 affidavit that Mr. Linder was Ms.
Branch's supervisor on the day he terminated Ms. Branch.
Court finds, based on Fed.R.Evid. 401 and 402, that Mr.
Linder's testimony may be relevant to the instant matter
since he was Ms. Branch's direct supervisor at the time
in question. Whatever, if anything, Mr. Linder may know or
recall goes to the weight of the evidence.
to Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Testimony by
George Spencer (ECF 118), the Motion is GRANTED.
Post Office moved to exclude the testimony of George Spencer,
Labor Relations Director for the National Alliance of Postal
and Federal Employees. The Post Office argues that Mr.
Spencer has no relevant knowledge to the issues in this case
because he did not work directly with Ms. Branch and was not
involved in her termination. In response, Ms. Branch argues
that Mr. Spencer may provide relevant testimony regarding the
rights of a casual employee at the Post Office.
Court agrees with the Post Office's position. Based on
the parties' filings, it appears that Mr. Spencer can
provide no testimony as to the termination at issue in Ms.
Branch's complaint. Further, his testimony about how
casual employees are intimidated by management is not only
irrelevant, but poses a serious risk of confusing the jury,
and is therefore inadmissible under Rule 403.
to Defendant's Motion Regarding Note Memorializing
Plaintiff's Threat (ECF 115), the Motion is GRANTED.
Post Office moved to introduce a note written by a former
Post Office employee, Sandra Roberts, on the date of
Plaintiff's termination that memorializes Plaintiff's
alleged threat of violence against a superior. The Post
Office argues that the note should be admitted because 1) it
is not hearsay since it is not “offer[ed] in evidence
to prove the truth of the matter asserted, ”
Fed.R.Evid. 801(c), but rather to show its effect on Mr.
Gurneal, who relied upon the note and its contents in
terminating Ms. Branch; and 2) even if it were hearsay, Ms.
Roberts's note, which was attached to a termination
memorandum, is a business record admissible under the
business records exception. See Fed. R. Evid.
803(6). Ms. Branch responds by arguing that, under
Fed.R.Evid. 901, the note is inadmissible because Ms. Roberts
will not be at trial to authenticate the note.
Court finds that the note is admissible because it is not
being admitted for the truth of its contents. See e.g.
Jones v. Univ. of Pa., No. 00-2695, 2003 WL 21652083, at
*4 n.3 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 20, 2003) (“[S]o long as
complaints received by an employer are offered to show the
state of mind of the employer (a crucial factor in
discrimination cases), and not offered to prove the truth of
the matter asserted, such complaints do not constitute
hearsay.”). Further, it falls under the business record
exception even if the note were hearsay, since it is attached
to the termination memorandum and is kept as part of the Post
Office's personnel records. See Martin v.
Funtime, Inc., 963 F.2d 110, 116 (6th Cir. 1992)
(affirming admissibility of personnel files as business
records under Rule 803(6)). Finally, the note may be
authenticated by Mr. Gurneal, as recipient of the note,
rather than solely Ms. Roberts. Bouriez v. Carnegie
Mellon Univ., No. Civ.A. 02-2104, 2005 WL 2106582, at *5
(W.D. Pa. Aug. 26, 2005) (“[Rule 901] does not require
the author to authenticate a document, but other facts and
circumstances can provide ample basis for
to Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence of
Previously Dismissed Claims (ECF 104), the Motion is GRANTED
Post Office moved to exclude evidence of previously dismissed
claims, arguing under Fed.R.Evid. 401, 402, and 403 that
evidence of Ms. Branch's retaliation claims should be
excluded since the Court dismissed these claims on summary
judgment. Ms. Branch's retaliation claims had been that
1) she was retaliatorily terminated in 2012 because she had
filed a 2010 Equal Employment Opportunity complaint for
sexual harassment (“Claim 1”), and 2) the Post
Office did not rehire Ms. Branch in 2015 due to her unlawful
2012 termination (“Claim 2”). In response, Ms.
Branch argues that evidence of Claim 1 is relevant because
the Post Office will introduce evidence that Ms. Branch was
“moved around” the Post Office because of poor
work performance, while Ms. Branch maintains it was in
retaliation to the 2010/2011 sexual harassment allegation.
Further, Ms. Branch argues that evidence of Claim 2 is
relevant to the issue of mitigation of damages.
Court is persuaded that if the Post Office opens the door and
introduces evidence that Ms. Branch was “moved
around” the Post Office due to poor work performance
prior to her 2012 termination, then Ms. Branch may introduce
evidence regarding the 2010/2011 sexual harassment
allegation. Using the evidence in this way will minimize the
risk of jury confusion, and is not evidence relating
specifically to the retaliation claim that was dismissed.
However, evidence of Claim 2, regarding her attempts to be
rehired by ...