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BRYANT v. UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY

June 11, 2004.

OMAR BRYANT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Union Pacific Railroad Company's ("Union Pacific") motions in limine and on Plaintiff Omar Bryant's ("Bryant") motions in limine. Due to the complete inadequacy of the pretrial submissions by the parties, we are unable to rule on the motions in limine and are unable to proceed to trial as scheduled.

DISCUSSION

  The joint pretrial order submitted by the parties is deficient for a variety of reasons. All parties were instructed on May 13, 2004, to prepare a joint pretrial order in accordance with the court's standing pretrial order. The parties have clearly failed to comply with our orders. We shall address each deficiency in the submitted joint pretrial order below.

  I. Venue (Tab 2)

  The parties are instructed in our standing order to include a venue statement in Tab 2. In Tab 2 of the submitted pretrial order the parties merely state: "Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3)." The court is well aware of the federal venue statute and it is an illogical conclusion on the parties' part that the court would ask parties in each case to merely cite the venue statute. Clearly what is required in Tab 2 is an indication of why venue is appropriate in the particular action. The parties failed to provide even the most cursory explanation as to why venue is proper in this action in this court.

  II. Statements of Facts and Law (Tabs 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B)

  The parties are instructed to include agreed facts in Tab 3, facts proposed by Plaintiff and disputed by Defendant in Tab 3A, and facts proposed by Defendant and disputed by Plaintiff in Tab 3B. First of all, the parties blatantly ignored the court's standing order by combining their disputed facts with disputed issues of law which is required to be included in Tab 4. Thus, the parties have combined disputed issues of fact and law which only creates confusion. The parties also altered the remaining Tab numbers in the submitted pretrial order to fit their own version of a pretrial order and thus, none of the remaining Tabs in the submitted pretrial order correspond with our standing order for pretrial orders.

  In addition to the parties' unilateral reconfiguration of the pretrial order, the agreed and disputed facts included in the submitted pretrial order are completely inadequate. In Tab 3 of the submitted pretrial order the parties merely include as agreed facts eight brief statements of fact, and the disputed facts and law offer little relevant information. The agreed facts address matters such as the district where Bryant resides, that he was working for Union Pacific on December 17, 2001, the usual hours of his job, the duties of his job, and the duties and general hours of other jobs. Completely absent from the agreed facts and the disputed facts are a litany of relevant facts that are alluded to in the complaint and mentioned in the parties' motion in limine briefs. We recognize that the parties are required to provide the material facts and are not expected to provide a voluminous compilation of every fact that could conceivably have a bearing in this case. However, in the submitted pretrial order the parties have failed to provide even the most basic facts necessary for a proper adjudication of this case. The complaint is vague and unclear in regards to many issues which is understandable considering the limited burden of a plaintiff under the federal notice pleading standard. However, the submitted pretrial order leaves many factual questions unanswered and the facts included in the parties' motion in limine briefs actually raise new factual issues rather than clarify issues in the complaint. Incredibly, due to the failure of the parties to submit the proper materials to the court, the court stands at the eve of trial without having the benefit of sufficient information to rule on pretrial motions and to otherwise prepare for trial. We shall give some examples below of the inadequacies of the fact and law statements in the submitted pretrial order.

  In the complaint Bryant stated that he was subjected to discipline. However, there is not an indication of when Bryant was disciplined or how many times he was disciplined. It is not clear if he was fired on the day of the alleged insubordination or whether he was suspended. It is not clear why he was fired and how many times he was fired. For instance, on one hand, Union Pacific claims that "Plaintiff was dismissed from his job, in part, because he was found by police officers and charged with possession of stolen property." (D Ans. Mot 2). On the other hand, Bryant states in his motion in limine that "plaintiff was originally charged with theft which allegedly occurred well after he returned to work." (P Mot 1). From the allegations in the complaint we are led to believe that Bryant was only fired once, namely, when he was charged with insubordination, and that his termination was eventually reduced to a suspension, but the above statements and other statements in the briefs would indicate that it is possible that Bryant was fired when he was insubordinate, then fired again after he was allowed to return. We can only speculate because the complaint offers few specific facts and the submitted pretrial order does not even mention these facts. There is also mention in the parties' motion in limine briefs of Bryant's "110 days off." (P Mot 1). There is no mention of this 110 days off in the agreed or disputed facts in the submitted pretrial order or in the complaint. It is not clear between what dates the time off occurred or even between what events that this 110 days off occurred. There is also ample mention of the 90 day suspension in the briefs, but again, it is not mentioned in the pretrial order and there is not even a clear indication in the briefs of the date of the suspension. The parties, knowing all the facts in this case, may argue that the sequence of events in this case are obvious. We do not agree, and there should be no guessing at all by the court as to the pertinent facts in this case on the eve of trial.

  In the complaint Bryant also makes reference to "negotiations" that occurred after Bryant was "fired." (Compl. 10). There is no clear indication in the amended complaint or submitted pretrial order of when Bryant was fired or for what reason. There is also no mention of any negotiations in the agreed or disputed facts of the submitted pretrial order. However, there are references to negotiations in the parties' briefs which indicate that negotiations apparently occurred between Bryant's union representative and Union Pacific. Bryant states in his motion in limine that "in our case the agreement for plaintiff to return to work was arranged between the defendant and plaintiff's union representative." (P Mot 5). Yet there is no reference to the union representative or those negotiations in the agreed or disputed facts in the submitted pretrial order. The reference to the union representative in the briefs also raises new issues such as the existence of some sort of "agreement" between Bryant and Union Pacific regarding his return to work after his charge of insubordination that he claims was racially motivated. The parties' briefs indicate that Bryant signed a waiver of a formal hearing for the insubordination charges against Bryant. However, neither the agreed or disputed facts in the submitted pretrial order or the complaint make any mention of an agreement or mention the facts surrounding the agreement. Based upon what we can gather from the parties' briefs, Bryant was apparently fired and then after some negotiations he agreed to return to work and he signed a form waiving a formal hearing for the insubordination charges and agreeing that he would not get paid for the 90 day suspension. However, this is simply speculation and we do not know any of the circumstances surrounding the agreement or whether there were more terms to the agreement and negotiations. Those facts are important in part because the facts surrounding this agreement and the negotiations could possibly have relevance as to whether this action should even go before the jury.

  Another issue raised in the parties' briefs is the event surrounding the waiver form apparently signed by Bryant and the hearing that was allegedly conducted. Bryant states in the complaint: "A hearing was conducted, and Plaintiff was fired." (Compl. 10). There is no mention of a hearing in the agreed or disputed facts in the submitted pretrial order. There is no indication of when a hearing was conducted or what was the purpose of the hearing. The parties attached as an exhibit to their briefs a form signed by Bryant indicating that he waived a formal hearing and agreed that he would not get paid for the 90 day suspension. Based upon Bryant's reaction in the briefs, Bryant apparently concedes that he signed such a form. However there is no mention of the form in the complaint or the submitted pretrial order. Also, the mention of the waiver of a formal hearing actually suggests that a hearing was not conducted and that the complaint is inaccurate when it states that a hearing was conducted.

  Another fact introduced in the briefs is that Bryant was arrested and charged with a crime involving the theft of property from Union Pacific. (D Ans. Mot 2). One of Bryant's motions in limine seeks to bar any reference at trial to the arrest. However, there is no mention of the arrest or charges in the agreed or disputed facts in the submitted pretrial order or in the complaint. Based on Bryant's motion in limine briefs we gather that Bryant concedes that he was arrested and thus that fact, at the very least, should be an agreed fact that should have been included in the submitted pretrial order. The fact is relevant because Union Pacific states in its opposition to Bryant's motion in limine that Union Pacific knew about the arrest and that the arrest was one of the reasons that it decided to fire Bryant. (D Ans Mot 2). Thus, the arrest and the facts surrounding the arrest are relevant facts whether they be agreed or disputed facts and clearly should have been included in the submitted pretrial order.

  Union Pacific has also moved to bar Bryant from introducing evidence relating to when Bryant was accused of cheating on a safety test. Based on Bryant's response, he apparently intends to introduce such evidence. Union Pacific points out in its motion in limine that the subject matter was not mentioned in Bryant's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge or in the complaint. However, neither was the matter touched on in the joint submitted pretrial order as was required. In addition, to the many new factual issues raised by the parties' briefs for the motions in limine, many of the new facts raised in ...


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