United States District Court, D. Connecticut
A. Bolden United States District Judge
their recently-filed joint trial memorandum, the parties
indicate that they intend to present the jury with evidence
as to Defendants' tenth affirmative defense, in which
Defendants claim that “[t]his Court lacks jurisdiction
over this matter as both parties have agreed to resolve any
dispute through arbitration.” Answer, dated Nov. 10,
2016, ECF No. 13.
reasons explained below, the Court STRIKES
Defendants' demand for a trial by jury on this defense
under Rule 39(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
as Defendants have not demonstrated that there is any genuine
dispute of material fact for which a trial by jury on this
defense is warranted.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
with the facts and prior proceedings, as detailed in the
Court's March 5, 2019 Ruling and Order, is assumed.
See Ruling and Order, dated Mar. 5, 2019 (“R
& O”), ECF No. 62, at 2-12.
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 its 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
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.
3, 2019, Defendants moved to continue jury selection to
August 19, 2019-the day the trial was 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.
5, 2019, the parties filed their joint trial memorandum.
Joint Trial Memorandum, dated Jul. 5, 2019
(“JTM”), ECF No. 76.
8, 2019, the Court noted the parties' failure to file
simultaneously 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.
11, 2019, the Court granted Defendants' motion to
continue and re-scheduled the jury selection for August 19,
2019, with trial set to begin thereafter. Order, dated Jul.
11, 2019, ECF No. 78; Notice of E-Filed Calendar, dated Jul.
12, 2019, ECF No. 79.
16, 2019, Defendants moved in limine to preclude Ms.
James from introducing any evidence, testimony, or references
to a civil action Ms. James has filed, James v. Jetro
Holdings, No. NNH-CV-15-6054069-S, currently pending
before the Connecticut Superior Court for the Judicial
District of New Haven. Defs.' Mot. Defendants argued that
the state court action, in which Ms. James seeks damages for
Defendants' alleged tortious interference with her
business, is wholly irrelevant to the claims before this
Court as it “seeks a completely different remedy with
different legal theories outside of Title VII.”
Id. at 2. Defendants argued that any descriptions or
references to the State Court Action therefore are
irrelevant. Id. at 1, 3-4. Defendants further argued
that “even if such evidence is relevant . . . the
evidence is highly prejudicial and outweighs any probative
value because it will confuse the issues (hostile work
environment v. commercial issues) and mislead the jury
(essentially informing the jury that Plaintiff's
termination was not for just cause and retaliatory).”
Id. at 4.
22, 2019, Ms. James opposed Defendants' motion in
limine, arguing that the request was overbroad because
it would “preclude any testimony or evidence that may
be relevant to the Hostile Work Environment [claim], but is
even slightly connected in some way to the state court
action, ” leaving Ms. James “open to random and
unpredictable evidentiary objections from the defendants
depending on how creative the defendants can be at linking
each individual piece of evidence and testimony to the state
case.” Objection to Motion In Limine to
Preclude Evidence, Testimony or References to Plaintiff's
State Case, dated Jul. 22, 2019 (“Pl.'s
Opp.”), ECF No. 82.
24, 2019, the Court held a final pretrial conference with the
parties, reserving decision on the motion in limine.
Minute Entry, filed Jul. 28, 2019, ECF No. 83. The Court
directed the parties to file their proposed voir dire
questions and jury instructions by August 2, 2019, and to