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James v. RD America, LLC

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 1, 2019

TYRONDA JAMES, Plaintiff,
v.
RD AMERICA, LLC, d/b/a Restaurant Depot, JETRO HOLDINGS, LLC, d/b/a Restaurant Depot, RESTAURANT DEPOT, LLC, d/b/a Restaurant Depot, Defendants.

          RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION IN LIMINE

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On August 24, 2016, Tyronda James (“Plaintiff”) sued RD America, LLC, Jetro Holdings, LLC, and Restaurant Depot, LLC (“Defendants”), alleging that she was fired on the basis of race, subjected to a hostile work environment, and retaliated against for protected activity, all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e. Complaint, dated Aug. 24, 2016 (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1.

         On March 5, 2019, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Ruling and Order, dated Mar. 5, 2019 (“R & O”), ECF No. 62. The Court held that Ms. James's hostile work environment claim could proceed to trial because there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the use of racial epithets in her workplace was sufficiently severe or pervasive to have materially altered the terms and conditions of her employment, but granted summary judgment for Defendants on Ms. James's other claims. Id. at 25-31, 33.

         Before the jury trial beginning on August 19, 2019, Defendants move in limine to preclude Ms. James from introducing any evidence, testimony, or references to a civil action Ms. James has filed that is currently pending before the Connecticut Superior Court for the Judicial District of New Haven. Defendants' Motion In Limine to Preclude Evidence, Testimony or References to Plaintiff's State Court Action, dated Jul. 16, 2019 (“Defs.' Mot.”), ECF No. 80.

         For the reasons explained below, Defendants' motion in limine is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         Defendants' motion is granted only to the extent that evidence or testimony may not refer to the fact that there is a state court action pending. Defendants' motion is otherwise denied, without prejudice to raising any issues of relevance or prejudice during the trial.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Familiarity with the facts and prior proceedings, as detailed in the Court's March 5, 2019 Ruling and Order, is assumed. See R & O at 2-12.

         On March 5, 2019, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment. R & O at 1, 33. The Court (1) denied summary judgment on Defendants' arbitration defense because Defendants had failed to show an absence of a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether there was a valid agremeent to arbitrate and whether Ms. James's claims were within it scope, id. at 13-17; (2) granted summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claims of discriminatory firing and retaliation, id. at 20-25, 31-32; and (3) denied summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claim of hostile work environment because there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the use of racial epithets in her workplace was sufficiently severe or pervasive to have materially altered the terms and conditions of her employment, thereby allowing this single claim under Title VII to proceed to trial, id. at 25-31, 33.

         On March 14, 2019, following a telephonic scheduling conference with the parties, the Court set this case down for a jury trial beginning on August 19, 2019, with jury selection to be held on August 5, 2019. Scheduling Order, dated Mar. 14, 2019, ECF No. 65.

         On July 3, 2019, Defendants moved to continue jury selection to August 19, 2019-the day the trial is set to begin-due to a scheduling conflict for Defendants' counsel with an unrelated matter. Motion to Continue Jury Selection, dated Jul. 3, 2019, ECF No. 75.

         On July 5, 2019, the parties filed their joint trial memorandum. Joint Trial Memorandum, dated Jul. 5, 2019, ECF No. 76.

         On July 8, 2019, the Court noted the parties' failure to simultaneously file motions in limine with their joint trial memorandum, as required by this Court's Chambers Practices, and therefore set a schedule for briefing on motions in limine. Amended Scheduling Order, dated Jul. 8, 2019, ECF No. 77.

         On July 11, 2019, the Court granted Defendants' motion to continue, rescheduling the jury selection to August 19, 2019, with trial set to begin thereafter. Order, dated Jul. 11, 2019, ECF No. 78; ...


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