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Wildman v. American Century Services, LLC

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

August 3, 2018

STEVE WILDMAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN CENTURY SERVICES, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS IN LIMINE AND DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION IN LIMINE

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE

         This case involves claims for breach of fiduciary duty and prohibited transactions pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Plaintiffs Steve Wildman (“Wildman”) and Jon Borcherding (“Borcherding”), participants in the American Century Retirement Plan (the “Plan”) established by Defendant American Century Investment Management, Inc. (“ACIM”), bring this suit on their own behalf, and on behalf of a class of participants in the Plan, against Defendants American Century Services, LLC (“ACS”), ACIM, American Century Companies, Inc. (“ACC”) (ACIM, ACS, and ACC collectively “American Century”), the American Century Retirement Plan Retirement Committee (the “Committee”), and past and present members of the Committee, [1] seeking damages and declaratory and injunctive relief.

         Now before the Court is Plaintiffs' motions in limine (Docs. 201 & 204) and Defendants' motion in limine (Doc. 206). For the following reasons, the motions are DENIED.

         Standard

         Generally, relevant evidence is admissible. Fed.R.Evid. 402. Evidence is relevant if it has “any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence” and “the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” Fed.R.Evid. 401. Trial courts have “broad discretion in determining the relevance of proposed evidence.” United States v. Williams, 545 F.2d 47, 49 (8th Cir. 1976). “The threshold for relevance is quite minimal.” United States v. Nadeau, 598 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 2010).

         Discussion

         I. Plaintiffs' motions in limine are DENIED.

         Plaintiffs seek to preclude American Century from introducing any evidence or argument related to: (1) releases signed by absent class members; and (2) American Century's contributions to its employees' retirement plan accounts, because they argue these categories of evidence are irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible.

         A. Evidence regarding six representative releases relating to releases of liability for absent class members is relevant.

         First, Plaintiffs seek to exclude evidence, testimony, and argument related to six representative releases of liability on the basis that these documents are irrelevant.

         In response to Plaintiffs' discovery requests seeking documents concerning absent class member releases, Defendants produced six representative releases. These documents represent releases of liability that some class members executed when they terminated their employment with American Century. At summary judgment, the Court considered the releases of liability executed by Plaintiffs Wildman and Borcherding. See (Doc. 54 at 6-8). Defendants claim that the language used in the representative releases contain nearly identical language the Court considered at summary judgment and are relevant to their defense that Plaintiffs' claims are barred.

         Plaintiffs complain that these representative agreements are not relevant because they are unsigned and not a substitute for the actual, signed agreements, they represent. Defendants complain that Plaintiffs did not raise an issue with these representative releases, never filed a motion to compel production of the actual releases, and never sought to depose a corporate representative who could testify as to the releases for the absent class members, and are only now complaining about the releases on the eve of trial.

         The Court finds evidence of releases of liability are relevant to Defendants' defense that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by a release. See (Doc. 54 at 6-8) (considering the validity of releases of liability for the named plaintiffs including the analysis the Court must undertake to determine whether a release is valid and enforceable). Accordingly, Plaintiffs' motion is denied.

         B. Evidence regarding contributions to employees' ...


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