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Pete v. Walgreen Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

March 27, 2017

RACHEL PETE, Plaintiff,
v.
WALGREEN CO., SCOTT GROVES and CAROL MIER, Defendants.

          ORDER (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS IN LIMINE, AND (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS IN LIMINE

          ORTRIE D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE

         Pending are Defendants' Motions in Limine (Doc. #45), and Plaintiff's Motions in Limine (Doc. #43). Parties are reminded these rulings are interlocutory. Thus, the denial of a request to bar evidence at this juncture preserves nothing for review, and the parties may re-assert their objections at trial if they deem it appropriate to do so. Evidence barred by this Order shall not be discussed in the jury's presence (including during opening statements) without leave of the Court. The parties are free to suggest (out of the jury's presence) that something has occurred during the trial that justifies a change in the Court's interlocutory ruling.

         Defendants' Motions in Limine

         A. “David and Goliath” References

         Defendants seek to exclude comments or reference to “the individual Defendants' wealth, Plaintiff's own wealth, or comparing the wealth or size of Walgreens to that of Plaintiff, including any comments or references that characterize this case as one involving an individual against a large corporation.” Plaintiff does not intend to offer such “David and Goliath” evidence or argument, but argues Defendants' motion is vague and overly broad in that it may prevent discussion of the nature of trial exhibits, demonstrative exhibits, and other evidence. The Court grants the motion. The parties shall not engage in “David and Goliath” commentary, but the Court notes nothing prevents the parties from discussing the nature of exhibits and other evidence in the record.

         B. Probable Testimony of Absent Witnesses

         Defendants seek to exclude speculation by Plaintiff as to the probable testimony of witnesses who do not testify. Plaintiff does not oppose this motion. Accordingly, the Court grants the motion.

         C. Discovery Objections or the Court's Ruling on Motions in Limine

         Defendants seek to exclude argument or reference to objections to written discovery or deposition questions. Plaintiff generally agrees these objections are not appropriate. However, Plaintiff wishes to reference documents Defendants maintain existed at one time, but did not produce in discovery. Plaintiff specifically identifies an email Defendant Mier may have sent, but was not produced during discovery in this matter. The Court grants the motion. The parties may not reference objections to written discovery or deposition questions. However, testimony regarding the processing of Plaintiff's complaints is relevant and will be permitted.

         D. Plaintiff's or Plaintiff's Co-Workers' Opinions of Defendants' Decisions

         Defendants seek to exclude testimony by Plaintiff or her co-workers regarding whether they agreed with Defendants' handling of Plaintiff's complaints, the actions taken as a result of Plaintiff's complaints, Plaintiff's Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”), or Plaintiff's discharge. Defendants argue such testimony is improper under the business judgment rule, which allows employers to exercise their business judgment in making employment decisions. In response, Plaintiff indicates she does not intend to solicit opinions regarding applicable law. However, Plaintiff opposes the motion on the basis that testimony regarding whether Defendants followed company policies, and whether Defendants fairly applied the company's disciplinary policies is relevant and admissible.

         The Court grants in part and denies in part the motion. Plaintiff and her co-workers may not give subjective opinions as to whether Plaintiff was mistreated or treated differently. Plaintiff and her co-workers may testify as to their understanding of company policies and observations about how the policies were implemented by supervisors.

         E. “Harasser, ” “Retaliator, ” or Other Such Labels

Defendants seek to exclude testimony that labels another person as a “harasser, ” “retaliator, ” or other related label. Plaintiff does not oppose the motion. Accordingly, the Court grants the motion.

         F. Evidence Beyond “Garden-variety” Emotional Distress

         Defendants seek to exclude evidence of “garden-variety” emotional distress beyond that alleged by Plaintiff's Petition. Plaintiff does not oppose the motion. Accordingly, the Court grants the motion.

         G. Plaintiff's September 2014 PIP was Retaliatory

         Defendant argues Plaintiff will try to present evidence showing the September 2014 PIP was retaliatory. Doing so, Defendants argue, would improperly circumvent Plaintiff's charges of discrimination and her Petition. Plaintiff argues retaliation was within the scope of her initial charge of ...


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