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Achterberg v. Albaugh, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division

November 30, 2017

LAURA ACHTERBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
ALBAUGH, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         This action arises out of Plaintiff Laura Achterberg's (“Achterberg”) work assignment at Defendant Albaugh, LLC's (“Albaugh”) plant. Achterberg claims she was wrongfully terminated after she returned from training with the U.S. Army Reserves. Achterberg sued Albaugh, Employer Solutions Staffing Group II, LLC (“ESSG”), and Labtech Specialty Staffing Company (“Labtech”), for violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. § 4301, et seq., and wrongful termination in violation of public policy under Missouri common law. Defendants ESSG and Labtech have settled with Plaintiff (Doc. 103), and only Albaugh remains for trial.

         Now before the Court are the parties' motions in limine. The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Motion in limine (Doc. 77), Albaugh's response (Doc. 81), and Plaintiff's supplement (Doc. 110). The Court has also reviewed Albaugh's motion in limine (Doc. 73) and Plaintiff's response (Doc. 84). The Court rules as follows:

         I. Plaintiff's Motion in limine (Doc. 77).

         1. Evidence that Albaugh hires veterans or servicemembers is admissible.

         Plaintiff moves to exclude evidence concerning Albaugh's track record of hiring veterans or servicemembers. Plaintiff argues this evidence is inadmissible character evidence, under Fed.R.Evid. 404(a)(1). Albaugh states this evidence is relevant to rebut Plaintiff's claim that it acted with improper intent and motive when it terminated Plaintiff.

         The Court finds evidence that Albaugh has hired other veterans or servicemembers is relevant as circumstantial evidence to rebut Plaintiff's allegation that it had an improper motive or intent when it terminated Plaintiff. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

         2. Evidence that Tabatha Proffit's husband served in the Navy is excluded.

         Plaintiff moves to exclude evidence that Tabatha Proffit's (“Proffit”) husband served in the Navy. Proffit was Plaintiff's direct supervisor and one of two individuals at Albaugh who decided to terminate her. Plaintiff argues this evidence is not relevant or is impermissible propensity evidence under Fed.R.Evid. 404. Albaugh argues this evidence is circumstantial evidence that supports its position that it did not act with improper intent or motive when it terminated Plaintiff.

         The Court finds this evidence is not relevant and thus, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.

         3. Evidence of Plaintiff's employment prior to working at Albaugh is admissible.

         Plaintiff seeks to exclude evidence of employment prior to working for defendants because she argues it is impermissible propensity evidence under Fed.R.Evid. 404. Albaugh argues this evidence is relevant to rebut Plaintiff's claim of emotional distress because it alleges Plaintiff was previously terminated from at least one other job.

         The Court finds evidence of Plaintiff's previous employment is relevant to Plaintiff's claim of emotional distress, thus, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

         4. Evidence of Plaintiff's employment from June 20, 2016, forward is admissible.

         Plaintiff seeks to exclude evidence of her employment beginning on June 20, 2016, when she secured new employment, because she is not making a claim for lost wages beyond this date. Albaugh states that while Plaintiff does not seek lost wages after this date, she does not limit her damages for emotional distress, humiliation, frustration, anxiety, and grief to this timeframe. Albaugh argues that this evidence is relevant to Plaintiff's claim for the emotional distress damages because it may show there was a superseding or intervening event, such as a subsequent employment termination, that should place a temporal limit on the scope of Plaintiff's alleged emotional distress.

         The Court finds this evidence is relevant to rebut Plaintiff's claims for emotional distress damages. Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

         5. Any evidence that Plaintiff was fired by any employer other than defendants is admissible.

         Plaintiff seeks to exclude evidence that she was fired by any other employer because it is inadmissible propensity evidence. Albaugh argues this evidence is relevant to rebut Plaintiff's claims for emotional distress, in that, showing Plaintiff has been fired, either before or after she was fired from Albaugh, is relevant to the extent and amount of emotional distress damages attributable to her termination from Albaugh.

         The Court finds this evidence is relevant to rebut Plaintiff's claims for emotional distress damages. Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

         6. Deposition exhibit 3 (no bates number) is excluded.

         Albaugh does not oppose this request, and this portion of the motion is GRANTED.

         7. Any evidence and argument that Plaintiff was a “temporary” employee with less rights than ...


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