United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division
December 3, 2014
AMBREA FAIRCHILD, Plaintiff,
ALL-AMERICAN CHECK CASHING, INC. Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KEITH STARRETT, District Judge.
For the reasons stated below, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's Motion in Limine  to Exclude Evidence of Financial Damages, and grants Defendant's Motion in Limine  to Exclude Discussion of Investigation.
A. Financial Damages 
Plaintiff failed to timely produce certain documents responsive to Defendant's discovery requests and relevant to the issue of Plaintiff's alleged financial damages. She provided the documents to Defendant four weeks after the discovery deadline, on the eve of the motions deadline. Defendant filed a Motion to Preclude  Plaintiff's reliance upon the documents on dispositive motions or at trial. Plaintiff notified the Court that she did not intend to rely on the documents, and the Court granted  the motion as unopposed.
Defendant now argues that Plaintiff may not offer any evidence of "financial stress" that occurred after her termination because such evidence is "inextricably tied" to the excluded documents. In response, Plaintiff argues that although she does not intend to rely on the excluded documents, she may rely on other evidence - such as her own testimony and any other evidence disclosed during discovery - to support her claim that termination caused her to suffer "emotional/financial distress."
Defendant cited no authority in support of its argument that Plaintiff must have financial documentation - tax returns, banking records, utility and mortgage statements, etc. - to support a claim for emotional damages arising from financial stress after termination. As the Court previously noted, the Fifth Circuit has upheld significant emotional/mental damage awards based on nothing but a plaintiff's testimony. Fairchild v. All Am. Check Cashing, Inc., No. 2:13-CV-92-KS-MTP, 23 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d (BNA) 427, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113653, at *13 (S.D.Miss. Aug. 15, 2014) (citing multiple cases). In the absence of binding and/or persuasive authority to the contrary, Plaintiff may present her own testimony and any other previously disclosed evidence regarding her alleged "emotional/financial distress."
Therefore, the Court grants Defendant's Motion in Limine  to Exclude Evidence of Financial Damages with respect to the specific documents already addressed in the Court's Order  of June 3, 2014, but the Court denies it in all other respects.
B. Investigation 
Defendant is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance into violations of various payday lending statutes. Defendant argues that any evidence or argument regarding this investigation should be excluded from trial because it is irrelevant to Plaintiff's claims, and would be more prejudicial than probative. In response, Plaintiff claims that the investigation concerns illegal fees charged to Defendant's customers which provide the basis for bonuses paid to its employees. Plaintiff argues that the investigation is relevant because Defendant contends that Plaintiff qualified for the "administrative capacity" exemption from the FLSA's overtime compensation requirements, see 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1), and one factor in determining whether an employee qualifies for the exemption is their level of compensation. See 29 C.F.R. §§ 541.200.
Plaintiff's compensation is relevant to the claims and defenses in this case, but Plaintiff has not demonstrated that the investigation is relevant. Even if Plaintiff received bonuses derived from illegal fees, the illegality of the fees has no bearing on the factual question of her compensation. The probative value of such evidence is greatly outweighed by its potential prejudicial effect. FED. R. EVID. 403. The Court grants Defendant's Motion in Limine  to Exclude Discussion of Investigation.
For these reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's Motion in Limine  to Exclude Evidence of Financial Damages, and grants Defendant's Motion in Limine  to Exclude Discussion of Investigation.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED.