Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mukherjee v. Children's Mercy Hospital

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

March 28, 2018

BAIDEHI L. MUKHERJEE, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CHILDREN'S MERCY HOSPITAL, Defendant.

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

          ORTRIE D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Pending are motions in limine filed by both parties. As set forth below, Plaintiff's motions (Doc. #91) are granted in part and denied in part, and Defendant's motions (Doc. #93) are granted in part and deferred in part. The 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 justifying a change in the Court's interlocutory ruling.

         Plaintiff's Motions in Limine

         (1) Suggestion that Plaintiff must show more than a motivating factor

         Plaintiff moves to prohibit Defendant from arguing, eliciting testimony, or suggesting Plaintiff must show her sex, national origin, race, or color was more than a “motivating factor” in the alleged discriminatory conduct under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff concedes she must establish her protected activities were the “but for” cause of Defendant's alleged retaliatory actions. Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr v. Nassar, 570 U.S. 338, 359-60 (2013); Sayger v. Riceland Foods, Inc., 735 F.3d 1025, 1032 (8th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

         Defendant objects to this motion, arguing section 1981's causation standard is different than Title VII's causation standard. Defendant contends this Court should follow the Supreme Court's decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., 557 U.S. 167 (2009), which found Title VII's motivating factor standard for disparate treatment did not apply to ADEA claims. Although Gross did not address section 1981 claims, Defendant contends the Court should apply the same analysis here.

         Because the parties agree Plaintiff must establish her protected activities were the “but for” cause of Defendant's alleged retaliatory actions under Title VII and section 1981, the Court must determine whether Plaintiff's section 1981 discrimination claims must also satisfy the “but for” causation standard. While other circuits have noted Gross's potential implication to section 1981 claims, the Eighth Circuit has declined to decide whether Title VII's mixed motive analysis applies to section 1981. EEOC v. Con-Way Freight, Inc., 622 F.3d 933, 937 (8th Cir. 2010). One case, although decided prior to Gross, sheds some light. In Kim v. Nash Finch Co., 123 F.3d 1046 (8th Cir. 1997), the Eighth Circuit stated:

Title VII and § 1981 set forth parallel, substantially identical, legal theories of recovery in cases alleging intentional discrimination in employment on the basis of race. This is particularly so after the enactment of the 1991 Civil Rights Act…. Among other things, the 1991 Civil Rights Act expanded the definition of “make and enforce contracts” in § 1981 to include the terms and conditions of employment, including discharge…. The elements of claims alleging disparate treatment on the basis of race under Title VII and intentional employment discrimination on the basis of race under § 1981 are identical.

Id. at 1063.

         In 2013, the Eighth Circuit specifically referred to Kim, noting “Kim necessarily determined the same causation standard applies in parallel Title VII and § 1981 racial discrimination claims.” Wright v. St. Vincent Health Sys., 730 F.3d 732, 739 n.6 (8th Cir. 2013). But in that same decision, the Eighth Circuit also noted, “the comments to the Eighth Circuit model jury instructions suggest there is some confusion as to the appropriate causation standard to apply in § 1981 racial discrimination claims.” Id. (citing 8th Cir. Civil Jury Instr. §§ 5.00, 11.00, 11.40 n. 5 (stating “[t]he appropriate standard in a section 1981 case is not clearly resolved”), 11.41. The Model Civil Jury Instructions on section 1981 discrimination claims states “the instructions give the trial court three options for submitting § 1981 claims”: (1) motivating factor/same decision causation standard, (2) but for causation, and (3) if the parties disagree as to which standard applies, special interrogatories can be provided to the jury “to elicit a complete set of findings for post-trial analysis.” 8th Cir. Civil Jury Instr. § 11.00.

         Jury instructions have not been proposed by the parties, but based upon the parties' briefing on this motion, there is disagreement as to which causation standard applies to Plaintiff's discrimination claims under section 1981. Accordingly, the Court will follow the third option in the Model Civil Jury Instructions, and provide special interrogatories to the jury. The parties will be permitted to argue and elicit testimony that is consistent with the jury instructions. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         (2) Argument that there must be direct evidence of discriminatory comments or actions

         Plaintiff asks the Court to preclude Defendant from asking questions or presenting argument about whether one of its employees made an offensive race-, sex-, or national origin-based comment. She argues these questions and arguments would mislead the jury to believe there must be a specific offensive comment to succeed on a discrimination claim. Defendant opposes the motion arguing evidence as to comments made (or the lack thereof) is relevant to Plaintiff's allegations of discrimination, and Defendant's defense against said claims.

         Plaintiff's motion is granted in part, and denied in part. The parties will not be permitted to argue there must be direct evidence of discrimination for Plaintiff to establish her discrimination claims. However, the lack of comments (or other direct evidence) is relevant and probative. Defendant will be ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.