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Argo v. Gregory

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division

November 24, 2014

Sheriff TOMMY J. GREGORY, in his official capacity, Defendant.


J. RANDAL HALL, District Judge.

Presently before the Court are Defendant's motions in limine (doc. 59). Defendant timely filed his motions on November 11, 2014. Plaintiffs raised a motion in limine on November 18, 2014 (doc. 60). Pursuant to this Court's Order and Notice of Pretrial Proceedings (doc. 52), all evidentiary motions were due by close of business on November 11, 2014, and all responses were due by close of business on Friday, November 21, 2014.[1] As the deadline for response has passed, the motions are ripe for the Court's review.

I. Motions in Limine

As a preliminary matter, with the exception of one issue, Plaintiffs have failed to respond to Defendant's motions in limine. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.5, "[f]ailure to respond within the applicable time period shall indicate that there is no opposition to a motion." LR SDGa 7.5; see also Bush v. Smith, No. 6:04-cv-156, 2007 WL 4712761, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 9, 2007). Indeed, "the orderly, efficient passage of lawsuits through the federal courts demands that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure be followed[.]" E.E.O.C. v. Exel, Inc., 259 F.R.D. 652, 656 (N.D.Ga. 2008) (internal quotations omitted). The Court thus addresses those motions which are deemed unopposed, the motion to which Plaintiffs did respond, and the additional evidentiary objections raised by Defendant.

a. Motions in Limine Deemed Unopposed

Defendant raises a number of pre-trial motions, which as the Court explained above are deemed unopposed. Specifically, Defendant moved to exclude (1) testimony based on hearsay; (2) evidence regarding emotional injury; (3) evidence regarding any dismissed or proposed claim not allowed by the court; (4) evidence of front pay; (5) testimony inconsistent with deposition testimony; and (6) "other improper evidence."[2]

As to the hearsay motion, Defendant points to his previously-filed Motion for Reconsideration (doc. 53), wherein he makes a number of arguments regarding specific hearsay statements. In that motion, Defendant cites three instances of hearsay: a statement relayed to Plaintiffs that Defendant allegedly said, "Why would I get rid of a younger deputy when I can get rid of a Bill Argo or Roger Dyals?"; statements from Kevin Barber to Plaintiffs about how Defendant was determined to get rid of the "greybeards"; and a chart created from Defendant's payroll records showing a pattern of age discrimination.

As to these three statements, the Court grants Defendant's motion as unopposed. Beyond these three instances, Defendant claims that "most of the testimony in this case is going to be based on inadmissible hearsay or rumored beliefs that Sheriff Gregory discriminated against the Plaintiffs based on their age." (Doc. 59 at 5.) To the extent Defendant seeks to exclude any and all possible instances of hearsay that may come up at trial, the Court reminds the parties that it strictly adheres to the Federal Rules of Evidence. Upon a timely objection, then, the Court will address any hearsay arguments Defendant might raise. Accordingly, the Court finds the above-listed motions to be unopposed and GRANTS Defendant's motions in limine.

b. Evidence Regarding Other Discrimination Allegations

Defendant also seeks to exclude the testimony of Jeremy Rogers, Carol Coats, and other former employees who might testify that they were terminated because of age. Plaintiff filed a motion in limine on November 18, 2014 to include the testimony of these individuals, which was filed beyond the deadline for motions in limine. However, because the issue is one raised by Defendant in his motion, the Court construes Plaintiffs' motion as one in response.

Defendant challenges this evidence as irrelevant[3] and unfairly prejudicial. Specifically, Defendant cites Moorhouse v. Boeing Co., 501 F.Supp. 390, 392-97 (E.D. Pa. 1980), a case cited with approval by the Northern District of Georgia in Grayson v. K-Mart Corp., 840 F.Supp. 785, 791 (N.D.Ga. 1994). In Moorhouse, the court held that "even the strongest jury instructions could not have dulled the impact of a parade of witnesses, each recounting his contention that defendant had laid him off because of his age." Moorhouse, 501 F.Supp. at 397 n.4. In retort, Plaintiff cites Demers v. Adams Homes of N.W. Fla., Inc., 321 F.App'x 847 (11th Cir. 2009). In Demers, the Eleventh Circuit held that testimony of former employees regarding the defendant's discriminatory actions was admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 404 (b) as relevant to show intent. There, the court held "wide evidentiary latitude must be granted to those attempting to prove discriminatory intent and th[e] trier of fact should consider all the evidence.'" Id. at 853 (quoting United States Postal Serv. v. Aikens, 460 U.S. 711, 714 n.3 (1983)).

The relevance and prejudicial effect of this evidence requires further review from this Court, particularly regarding the circumstances surrounding the terminations of these third-party employees and their work experiences.[4] Thus, the Court DEFERS ruling on this issue pending argument from the parties at the pretrial conference.

II. Evidentiary Objections

Defendant also raises a number of objections to ...

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