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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

January 18, 2017

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION PLAINTIFF
v.
VICKSBURG HEALTHCARE, LLC, D/B/A RIVER REGION MEDICAL CENTER DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion In Limine Regarding Chambers' Alleged May 2011 FMLA Request (“Motion to Exclude FMLA Request”) [138], Motion In Limine to Exclude Hearsay Testimony Regarding Ron Ella (“Motion to Exclude Hearsay”) [139], and Motion In Limine to Exclude Any Testimony or Evidence Regarding the Determination of the EEOC (“Motion to Exclude Determination”) [140] filed by Defendant Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC (“Defendant”), as well as the Motion In Limine [141] filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”). After reviewing the submissions of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds the following:

1. Defendant's Motion to Exclude FMLA Request [138] is not well taken and should be denied;
2. Defendant's Motion to Exclude Hearsay [139] is well taken and should be granted;
3. Defendant's Motion to Exclude Determination [140] should be denied as moot; and
4. the EEOC's Motion In Limine [141] should be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. DISCUSSION

         A. Defendant's Motion to Exclude FMLA Request [138]

         Defendant asks that the Court exclude from evidence the fact that Beatrice Chambers, on whose behalf the EEOC brings this suit, requested and was denied leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) in May 2011, as there are no FMLA claims and such a request is not relevant under Federal Rule of Evidence 401 and poses the risk of unfair prejudice and jury confusion under F.R.E. 403.

         The EEOC argues that, while Chambers requested leave, she never specifically testified that she requested leave under the FMLA. The fact that she requested leave and was immediately denied is relevant, they contend, to two aspects of their case. First, it argues that it is relevant to whether lifting and pushing heavier weights was an essential function of her job, as she was allowed to work after being denied leave with a compromised shoulder. Second, it contends that the immediate denial of leave tends to support the discriminatory animus at issue in this case and supports a pattern of similar conduct by Chambers' supervisor. The Court agrees that this request for leave and its subsequent denial are relevant to these two points of the EEOC's case, and turns then to Defendant's contention that it should be excluded regardless under F.R.E. 403.

         Defendant bases its arguments under F.R.E. 403 largely on the fact that it believes Chambers' request for leave was done under the FMLA and states that it will confuse the issues that are properly before the jury. As the EEOC points out, Chambers never stated that she made a leave request under the FMLA specifically in May 2011, only that she requested leave. Even if this leave was requested under the FMLA, the risk of confusion and prejudice is minimal, as the jury will be well instructed on which issues are before it decide, while the request and denial is substantially probative on two of the key issues in the EEOC's case. Therefore, exclusion under F.R.E. 403, which requires that the risk of prejudice or confusion substantially outweigh the probative value, is not appropriate.

         Because the Court finds that the request for leave and its denial is relevant under F.R.E. 401 and that its relevancy is not substantially outweighed by risk of prejudice or confusion under F.R.E. 403, the Motion to Exclude FMLA Request [138] will be denied.

         B. Defendant's Motion to Exclude Hearsay [139]

         Defendant asks the Court to exclude as hearsay any statements Ron Ella allegedly made to Chambers as to the reasons Defendant fired him. (See Chambers' Depo. [139-1] at p. 84:21-24.) These statements, as testified to in Chambers' deposition, are out-of-court statements made by a declarant, Ron Ella, and offered for the truth of the matter. See Fed. R. Evid. 801. The EEOC has not responded to this motion to argue that any exclusion or exception applies to these statements. As such, the Court ...


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