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TZOUMIS v. TEMPEL STEEL COMPANY

April 24, 2001

SPIRO TZOUMIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TEMPEL STEEL COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Nordberg, Judge

  MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court are Plaintiff Spiro Tzoumis and Defendant Tempel Steel motions in limine, as presented in the Final Pre-Trial Order.

A. Legal Standard

"A federal district court's authority to manage trials includes the power to exclude evidence pursuant to motions in limine." Falk v. Kimberly Services, Inc., No. 92 C 1079, 1997 WL 201568 at *1 (N.D. Ill. April 16, 1997) (citing Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n. 4 (1984)). "[T]he motion in limine is an important tool available to the trial judge to ensure the expeditious and evenhanded management of the trial proceedings." Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Services, 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997). It eliminates further consideration of materials that should not be presented to the jury because they would be inadmissable for any purpose. Id. However, the court should be mindful that some proposed evidentiary submissions cannot be accurately evaluated in a pretrial context via a motion in limine. Id. Only evidence that is clearly inadmissable for any purpose should be excluded pursuant to a motion in limine; generally, "evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in the proper context." Hawthorne Partners v. AT& T Technologies, Inc., 831 F. Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993).

If a motion in limine is denied, that does not mean all the evidence within the scope of the motion will be admitted at trial. Hawthorne, 831 F. Supp. at 1401. The court should entertain objections to proffers as they occur at trial, even for areas that fall in the scope of a denied motion in limine. Id.

B. Plaintiff's Motions in Limine

1. Exclude reference to Counts I & II of the complaint, which were disposed of via a motion for summary judgment.

This issue is unopposed, and the court grants Plaintiff's motion on issue #1.

2. Exclude evidence regarding any psychological or psychiatric treatment that Tzoumis received prior to his termination. Plaintiff maintains that such information is improperly prejudicial. Defendant maintains such information is critical to assessing Tzoumis' claimed damages for mental and emotional distress.

This court has held that such evidence is relevant to damages. See Bemben v. Hunt, No. 93 CV 509, 1995 WL 27223 at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 23, 1995). The degree to which defendant's presentation on this issue may need to be limited to avoid unfair prejudice is best determined at trial. Plaintiff's motion is denied as to issue #2.

3. Exclude evidence of unemployment compensation received by Tzoumis subsequent to his termination. Defendant objects on the grounds that Plaintiff does not deserve a "windfall" under the facts of the case.

The court concurs with the reasoning in Steck v. Bimba Manufacturing Co., No. 96 CV 7442, 1997 WL 685003 at *2 (ND. Ill. Oct. 30, 1997). The Steck court concluded that the "windfall" of unemployment benefits is best conferred on the employee/claimant rather than the employer(as a damages offset). Id. (citing Hunter v. Allis-Chalmers Corp., 797 F.2d 1417, 1428 (7th Cir. 1986)). Plaintiff's motion as to issue #3 is granted.

4. Exclude evidence of prior criticism of Plaintiff that is unrelated to absenteeism and evidence of performance evaluations from before Plaintiff was promoted to "Q.T. Technician." The Defendant objects, claiming such evidence may be relevant to matters at issue.

We note at the outset that Plaintiff cited an unpublished decision (Roney) in violation of Circuit Rule 53. Moreover, Defendant appears to be correct. While there are significant concerns regarding the relevance of such dated information, see this court's order of 11/29/99, we cannot conclude that all such information should be barred. For example, if Plaintiff presents himself as a "model employee" for his entire tenure, Defendant should be able to respond. Objections ...


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