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Austin v. Cook County

April 30, 2012

AUSTIN
v.
COOK COUNTY, ET AL.



Name of Assigned Judge Blanche M. Manning Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge

CASE TITLE

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

For the reasons stated below, the plaintiff's motions in limine [211-1] are granted in part and denied in part as provided herein. The defendants' motions in limine are ruled on as follows: motions (1) [202-1] and (4) [205-1] are granted. The defendants' motions in limine (2) [203-1] , (3) [204-1], (5) [206-1], (6) [207-1], (7) [208-1], and (8) [209-1] are denied.

O[ For further details see text below.]

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STATEMENT

Evidence should be excluded on a motion in limine "only when evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds .... [and][u]nless evidence meets this high standard, evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial...." See Steck v. Bimba Mfg Co., 96 C 7442, 1997 WL 685003, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 30, 1997) (citation omitted). The denial of a motion in limine does not mean that the evidence is necessarily admissible, rather, it means only that the party moving in limine has not demonstrated that there is no possible basis for the admission of the evidence. Holmes v. Sood, No. 02 C 7266, 2006 WL 1988716, at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 12, 2006). See also Alexander v. Mt. Sinai Hosp. Med. Center of Chicago, No. 00 C 2907, 2005 WL 3710369 at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 14, 2005). Further, the denial of a motion in limine does not preclude a party from objecting to the admission of any evidence at trial. United States v. Connelly, 874 F.2d 412, 416 (7th Cir. 1989) ("a ruling [on motion in limine is] subject to change based upon the court's exposure to the evidence at trial"). Keeping in mind these observations, the court addresses the parties' motions in limine in turn.

Plaintiff's Motions in Limine

The defendants do not object to the plaintiff's motions in limine numbers 1, 4, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, and 22. Therefore, these motions are granted.

1.) In his first motion in limine, the plaintiff asks the court to allow a corrected copy of a July 19, 2006, letter from Advocate Christ Medical Center to be admitted while barring any medical records from Christ Hospital and Advocate Medical Care. According to the plaintiff, the July 19, 2006, letter shows that there was a disclosure of the plaintiff's medical records to Peraica. The defendants respond that they do not object to "barring the medical records of Plaintiff Austin from Christ Hospital and Advocate Medical Health Centers which includes the corrected copy of the July 19, 2006, correspondence from Advocate Christ Medical Center." Thus, while it appears that the defendants object to the admission of the corrected July 19, 2006, letter (but not the medical records), they do not provide a basis for the objection. Given the lack of a reason for the objection, the plaintiff's motion is granted. The corrected copy of the July 19, 2006, letter from Advocate Christ Medical Center is allowed subject to any objections at trial by the defendants and the medical records from Christ Hospital and Advocate Medical Care are barred.

2.) The plaintiff asks the court to bar any and all police records from the July 7, 2005, investigation of criminal conduct and his July 9, 2005, arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a narcotic instrument. According to the plaintiff, the charge and related documents are irrelevant because the charge was dismissed and stricken on leave and an order to expunge and seal was entered with respect to the charge and case file. The plaintiff also asserts that the danger of unfair prejudice from the evidence substantially outweighs its probative value. But, as the defendants point out, Peraica purportedly terminated the plaintiff based on the arrest, not, as the plaintiff asserts, for having taken FMLA leave. Thus, the arrest appears to be a critical piece of information that the defense will rely on and the court does not find that the potential prejudice substantially outweighs the probative value. Nevertheless, to the extent that the arrest is referred to, the plaintiff will be permitted to show that the arrest was stricken on leave and expunged. The motion is denied.

3.) In his third motion in limine, the plaintiff contends that any and all media reports regarding his July 7, 2005, alleged overdose and the July 9, 2005, arrest should be barred as irrelevant and unduly prejudicial under Rule 403. Again, however, the defendants note that part of their defense will be that Peraica terminated the plaintiff based on his overdose and arrest and the unfavorable media attention that followed. Based on the information provided in the parties' briefs on the issue, the court concludes that the evidence is relevant and that the danger of unfair prejudice does not substantially outweigh the probative value of the evidence. If at trial the plaintiff has a specific objection to a particular media report, he may raise it at the appropriate time.

5.) The plaintiff next asks the court to bar the defendant from arguing that the plaintiff was not eligible for FMLA leave. This issue was raised in the parties' summary judgment papers, but was not decided due to issues of fact. Because the issue has not been resolved, the court sees no basis on which reference to it can be excluded. The motion is denied.

7.) The seventh motion in limine seeks to bar the defendants from arguing that Peraica had the right or authority to terminate Austin from his employment with Cook County. For the same reason as stated in the ...


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