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Williams v. Illinois Central Railroad Co.

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

February 7, 2018

MARCUS WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
v.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          CARLTON W. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are the Defendant's two motions in limine. The motions are briefed and ready for adjudication.

         I. Defendant's First Motion in Limine

         The Court grants all counts conceded by Williams, and considers IC's remaining requests in turn.

         A. Hearsay and Anecdotal Evidence of Other Adverse Employment Activities

         IC moves to exclude hearsay and anecdotal testimony about actions taken against other employees that are not similarly situated. See Wyvill v. United Cos. Life Ins. Co., 212 F.3d 296, 302 (5th Cir. 2000) (“Anecdotes about other employees cannot establish that discrimination was a company's standard operating procedure unless those employees are similarly situated to the plaintiff.”).

         Defendant's point is well-taken, but its objection must await the testimony. The Federal Rules of Evidence will apply in this case, obviously, and hearsay is not admissible unless otherwise authorized. See Fed. R. Evid. 802.

         B. The Merits of Prior Discipline Assessed Against Williams

         IC asks to exclude as irrelevant any testimony, evidence, or argument that Williams' prior attendance violations were unwarranted. Defendant's motion is granted. To the extent Williams attempts to challenge the bases or merits of his previous disciplinary actions, Plaintiff is barred from doing so. Williams' disciplinary record is irrelevant to the issue of whether IC violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) following Williams' June 13, 2015 absence. IC, however, is allowed to introduce evidence of Williams' employment history including prior discipline in order to prove its non-retaliatory reason for its employment action. Both sides are advised that there is no need to go into detail of Williams' prior violations. We do not need mini-trials on these instances as they would distract the jury from its consideration of the ultimate issue in this case.

         C. Validity or Fairness of Attendance Guidelines

         IC seeks to exclude arguments that the Attendance Guidelines are unlawful or unfair. Williams contends that the “fairness of the IC Attendance Guidelines is inextricably linked to [Defendant's] violation of the FRSA.” Docket No. 67 at 2. The Court agrees with Williams and denies the Defendant's motion.

         D. Effect of Williams' Termination on His Spouse or Family

         IC moves to preclude Williams from introducing evidence of emotional distress suffered by his spouse or family, because the FRSA provides relief only to employees. Defendant's motion is reserved, as Williams will have the right at trial to make a proffer that such evidence is relevant to his claims.

         E. The Medical Condition of ...


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