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System Development Integration, LLC v. Computer Sciences Corporation

July 19, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:


Before the Court are Plaintiff System Development Integration LLC's ("SDI") motions in limine. For the following reasons, the Court grants SDI's first and second motions in limine and denies SDI's third motion in limine. The Court will address SDI's fourth motion in limine, which is a motion to exclude the expert testimony of Mr. W. Davis Douglass (R. 167), in a separate order.


SDI filed suit against Computer Sciences Corporation ("CSC"), alleging breach of a subcontract agreement, tortious interference with prospective business advantage, breach of fiduciary duty under a partnership agreement, quantum meruit, and equitable estoppel, all arising from CSC's alleged actions in replacing SDI with another company as a minority business partner under a contract with Exelon. (R. 83, First Am. Compl., passim.) On September 13, 2010, the Court granted CSC's motion for summary judgment with respect to all five claims and entered judgment in CSC's favor. (R. 109, Order.) On April 1, 2011, the Court granted in part and denied in part SDI's motion to alter or amend the judgment after determining that CSC was not entitled to summary judgment on SDI's breach of subcontract agreement and quantum meruit claims. (R. 116, Order.) Those claims remain pending, and a jury trial is scheduled for September 10, 2012.


"Although the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize in limine rulings, the practice has developed pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to manage the course of trials." Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4, 105 S.Ct. 460, 83 L.Ed.2d 443 (1984). In limine rulings avoid delay and allow the parties the opportunity to prepare themselves and witnesses for the introduction or exclusion of the applicable evidence. See Wilson v. Williams, 182 F.3d 562, 566 (7th Cir. 1999); United States v. Connelly, 874 F.2d 412, 416 (7th Cir. 1989). Trial courts have broad discretion in ruling on evidentiary issues before trial. See United States v. Chambers, 642 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir. 2011). Regardless of the Court's initial ruling on a motion in limine, the Court may adjust its ruling during the course of trial. See Farfaras v. Citizens Bank & Trust of Chicago, 433 F.3d 558, 565 (7th Cir. 2006). The Court will only grant a motion in limine when the evidence is clearly inadmissible for any purpose. See Jonasson v. Lutheran Child & Family Servs., 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997); Thakore v. Universal Mach. Co. of Pottstown, Inc., 670 F. Supp. 2d 705, 714 (N.D. Ill. 2009). The moving party bears the burden of establishing that the evidence is not admissible for any purpose. See Mason v. City of Chicago, 631 F. Supp. 2d 1052, 1056 (N.D. Ill. 2009).


In advance of trial, SDI brings four motions in limine. First, SDI moves to strike CSC's supplementalFederal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) disclosures and to bar untimely-disclosed documents and witnesses from trial. Second, SDI moves to bar "irrelevant and prejudicial" evidence regarding SDI's President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. David Gupta. Third, SDI moves tobar "irrelevant evidence relating to SDI's so-called 'decertification' as a minority- or women-owned business enterprise." Finally, SDI moves to exclude the expert testimony of Mr. W. Davis Douglass. The Court addresses SDI's first, second, and third motions below. The Court will address SDI's motion to exclude CSC's expert in a separate order.

I. The Court Grants SDI's Motion to Strike CSC's Supplemental Rule 26(a) Disclosures and Bar Untimely-Disclosed Witnesses and Documents SDI seeks to exclude witnesses and documents that CSC did not disclose or produce until

June 12, 2012, more than two years after the close of fact discovery in this case and three months before trial. (R. 165, SDI's Mot. at 1-2.) The documents consist of updated and current revenue information under the Exelon contract. (R. 180, CSC's Resp. at 1-2.) The newly-disclosed witnesses include Bob Trauner, Nancy Stewart, Mary N. Fay, Tia Helberg, "a representative of CC-OPs, Inc," and "a representative of Glencoe Capital."*fn1 (SDI's Mot. at 1-2.) Mr. Trauner, Ms. Stewart, Ms. Fay, and Ms. Helberg are all "new personnel" at CSC. (CSC's Resp. at 2.) CSC concedes that it neither disclosed the witnesses nor produced the documents at issue until June 12, 2012, but argues that it was justified in doing so because the newly-disclosed information "came into existence only after the April 16, 2010 discovery cut-off date." (Id. at 1.)

CSC further argues that its untimely disclosure is justified by its obligation under Rule 26(e) to supplement its Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures and its responses to SDI's document requests.*fn2

Rule 37(c)(1) provides that "[i]f a party fails to provide information or identify a witness as required by Rule 26(a) or (e), the party is not allowed to use that information or witness to supply evidence . . . at a trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or is harmless." Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(c)(1).Rule 26(a)(1) requires parties to disclose, among other things, "the name . . . of each individual likely to have discoverable information--along with the subjects of that information--that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1)(A). Pursuant to Rule 26(e)(1)(A), "a party who has made a disclosure under Rule 26(a)--or who has responded to an interrogatory, request for production, or request for admission--must supplement or correct its disclosure or response in a timely manner if the party learns that in some material respect the disclosure or response is incomplete or incorrect . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e)(1)(A).

CSC contends that its late disclosure of witnesses and documents complies with its obligation to supplement under Rule 26(e), but CSC is mistaken. Rule 26(e) requires a party to timely supplement its initial disclosures and discovery responses when it learns of new information or information that renders an earlier response inaccurate. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e)(1)(A) (emphasis added). It does not, as CSC suggests, allow a party to wait until more than two years after the close of discovery, and after the Court has ruled on summary judgment, to supplement its discovery responses and initial disclosures as trial is approaching. See CivixDDI, LLC v., L.P., No. 05 C 6869, 2011 WL 181342, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 19, 2011) (holding that the defendants' disclosure of new facts ten months after the close of discovery was untimely).

Having determined that CSC's late disclosures and document production do not comply with its obligations under Rule 26(e), the question becomes whether, pursuant to Rule 37(c)(1), CSC's failure to comply is "substantially justified or . . . harmless." Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(c)(1). Exclusion of the untimely-disclosed evidence is automatic unless CSC can meet its burden to show that the untimely disclosure was substantially justified or harmless. Tribble v. Evangelides, 670 F.3d 753, 759 (7th Cir. 2012) ("Under Rule 37(c)(1), 'exclusion of non-disclosed evidence is automatic and mandatory . . . unless non-disclosure was justified or harmless.'") (quoting Musser v. Gentiva Health Servs., 356 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir. 2004)); David v. Caterpillar, Inc., 324 F.3d 851, 857 (7th Cir. 2003) ("the sanction of exclusion is automatic and mandatory unless the sanctioned party can show that its violation of Rule 26(a) was either justified for harmless"). District courts have broad discretion to determine whether CSC's ...

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