United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
BAIDEHI L. MUKHERJEE, Plaintiff,
THE CHILDREN'S MERCY HOSPITAL, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
is Plaintiff's Motion for a New Trial. Doc. #161. At
conclusion of trial, the jury rendered verdicts in favor of
Defendant on all of Plaintiff's claims. Docs. #154-55.
Plaintiff now raises ten bases for her request for a new
trial. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion is
Court may grant a new trial on some or all of the issues
after a jury trial “for any reason for which a new
trial has heretofore been granted in an action at law in
federal court.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a)(1)(A). A new trial
under Rule 59 “is warranted when the outcome is against
the great weight of the evidence so as to constitute a
miscarriage of justice.” Bank of Am., N.A., v. JB
Hanna LLC, 766 F.3d 841, 851 (8th Cir. 2014). In making
this determination, the court relies on its reading of the
evidence, including weighing the evidence and evaluating the
credibility of witnesses. Lincoln Composites, Inc. v.
Firetrace USA, LLC, 825 F.3d 453, 459 (8th Cir. 2016).
Alleged Hearsay Regarding Plaintiff's
argues individuals' statements about her work performance
should have been excluded at trial because the statements
were offered for the truth of the matters asserted therein,
and therefore, constituted hearsay. Plaintiff generally
refers to statements, but fails to identify a specific
statement by a particular witness or an exhibit that should
not have been admitted. Nonetheless, Plaintiff maintains the
jury's verdicts were influenced by and she was prejudiced
by the admission of these statements.
justice requires otherwise, no error in admitting or
excluding evidence…is ground for granting a new
trial….” Fed.R.Civ.P. 61. Where the moving party
complains about an evidentiary ruling, the court must
determine whether the “ruling was so prejudicial as to
require a new trial which would be likely to produce a
different result.” Moses.com Sec., Inc. v.
Comprehensive Software Sys., Inc., 406 F.3d 1052,
1058-59 (8th Cir. 2005).
parties addressed this issue in their trial briefs (Docs.
#122, 125), and reiterate their arguments in their briefing
of the pending motion. Prior to the commencement of trial,
the Court concluded the statements were not hearsay. The
Court's decision followed Eighth Circuit precedent.
See Wolff v. Brown, 128 F.3d 682, 685 (8th Cir.
1997) (holding “internal documents relied upon by the
employer in making an employment decision are not hearsay,
” and are “admissible because they help
explain…the employer's conduct); Hardie v.
Cotter & Co., 849 F.2d 1097, 1011 (8th Cir. 1988)
(finding customer complaints were not hearsay and were
properly admitted because the complaints demonstrated the
employer's state of mind when it decided to discharge its
did not offer the statements for the truth of the matters
asserted therein. Instead, Defendant offered the statements
to show its belief that Plaintiff was failing to meet
performance expectations, and the impact the statements had
on personnel decisions. With the admission of each statement,
the Court provided a limiting instruction informing the jury
it was not to consider the statement for the truth of the
matter asserted therein but only as to whether Defendant had
a nondiscriminatory, non-retaliatory reason for discharging
Plaintiff. The Court discerns no evidentiary error,
much less an error that so prejudiced Plaintiff to require a
new trial. Plaintiff's motion for a new trial based upon
this ground is denied.
argues the admission of after-acquired evidence constitutes
reversible error. First, Plaintiff contends Defendant failed
to present sufficient evidence of a specific policy she
violated, and to the extent a policy was identified,
Defendant failed to show Plaintiff's conduct was a
terminable offense. Second, Plaintiff argues the evidence was
not “after-acquired.” According to Plaintiff,
Defendant knew she was sending documents to her private email
account because it told her she could do so. Third, Plaintiff
claims the after-acquired evidence was related to her
complaints, and therefore, cannot serve as a defense. That
is, if Defendant had not allegedly harassed, discriminated
against, or retaliated against her, Plaintiff never would
have used her private email to communicate those actions.
Finally, Plaintiff avers the evidence should have been
excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence
because any probative value was outweighed by the prejudicial
effect on Plaintiff.
forth supra, the Court must determine whether the
admission of after-acquired evidence was so prejudicial as to
require a new trial that would likely produce a different
result. Moses.com Sec., Inc., 406 F.3d at 1058-59.
The Court finds the admission of after-acquired evidence was
not prejudicial, and was not so prejudicial that a retrial
(excluding said evidence) would likely produce a different
result. Further, no miscarriage of justice occurred with the
admission of this evidence. Tellingly, because the jury found
Plaintiff did not establish the essential elements of any of
her claims, the jury never reached the after-acquired
evidence issue. For these reasons, the Court denies
Plaintiff's motion for new trial based upon the admission
of after-acquired evidence.
Warren Dudley's Departure from Employment with
argues the Court erred in excluding evidence of the
circumstances surrounding Warren Dudley's departure from
Defendant in 2016. Plaintiff claims this evidence was
relevant to her disparate treatment claims (which included
her discharge in 2014) and the credibility of Defendant's
witnesses. Plaintiff contends Dudley, who was her supervisor,
was “the central player, ” and therefore, his
credibility, alleged lack of performance, and alleged
behavioral problems were relevant.
Court first addressed this issue in its Order in Limine. Doc.
#116. The Court determined Dudley's receipt of a
severance agreement was not relevant and would not be
permitted. Id. at 7. But the Court deferred
consideration of whether the circumstances surrounding
Dudley's separation were relevant to Plaintiff's
claims. Id. The Court instructed the parties to