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El-Bawab v. Jackson State University

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

December 14, 2018

DR. TAREK EL-BAWAB PLAINTIFF
v.
JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY DEFENDANT DR. TAREK EL-BAWAB PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. MEYERS, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DANIEL P. JORDAN III, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Dr. Tarek El-Bawab filed this employment-discrimination suit against Jackson State University (“JSU”) and others alleging that he was harassed, retaliated against, and wrongfully denied promotion based on his national origin. The case is before the Court on JSU's motion in limine [149]. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.[1]

         I. Standard

As summarized by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,
A motion in limine is a motion made prior to trial for the purpose of prohibiting opposing counsel from mentioning the existence of, alluding to, or offering evidence on matters so highly prejudicial to the moving party that a timely motion to strike or an instruction by the court to the jury to disregard the offending matter cannot overcome its prejudicial influence on the jurors' minds.

O'Rear v. Fruehauf Corp., 554 F.2d 1304, 1306 n.1 (5th Cir. 1977) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         II. JSU's Motion in Limine to Exclude Certain Matters [149]

         JSU seeks to exclude several categories of evidence. Although it offers a variety of arguments, the Court will address one recurring assertion now. According to JSU, the Court should exclude evidence that El-Bawab did not rely upon in his response to JSU's Motion for Summary Judgment [95]. But JSU cites no controlling authority supporting its position, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is not an evidentiary rule. Bradley v. Pittsburgh Bd. of Educ., 913 F.2d 1064, 1070 (3d Cir. 1990). The Court therefore rejects this general argument.

         A. Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence and Argument Regarding Dismissed Claims

         At the November 28, 2018 Pretrial Conference, JSU clarified that this part of the motion is limited to El-Bawab's conversations with the accrediting organization ABET and his emails to then JSU president Dr. Carolyn Meyers. The motion is granted as to the conversations with ABET and denied as to his emails to Dr. Meyers.

         Starting with ABET, El-Bawab's counsel stated at the pretrial conference that he cannot yet prove any decisionmaker was aware of these conversations. Absent this link, there is no probative value, and any probative value would be substantially outweighed by the risk of confusion and unfair prejudice. See Fed. R. Evid. 403.[2]

         As to Dr. Meyers, JSU argues that El-Bawab did not rely on these emails for any claims that survived summary judgment. As stated above, that argument is not persuasive. Moreover, the emails are probative. In these emails to the university president, El-Bawab roundly criticized his departmental colleagues. Yet those same colleagues populated the committees that rejected his promotion application. The evidence is therefore relevant to El-Bawab's claim that the school retaliated against him by stacking the promotion committee with members expected to oppose his promotion. The motion is denied.

         B. Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence and Argument Regarding the Pending Lawsuit Based on 2017 Promotion Denial and the Pending EEOC Charge Based on 2018 Promotion Denial

         El-Bawab still works at JSU and has filed a series of EEOC charges and subsequent Title VII lawsuits. The first was filed in 2011 and later settled. The present case will try two consolidated actions filed in 2015 and 2016, related to denied promotions occurring those years. But El-Bawab did not stop trying, leading to two more denials and two new charges of discrimination. First, JSU denied his promotion application in 2017, resulting in yet another federal suit. He was again denied in ...


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