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System Development Integration, LLC v. Computer Sciences Corporation

August 3, 2012

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT INTEGRATION, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMPUTER SCIENCES CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are Defendant Computer Sciences Corporation's ("CSC") motions in limine. For the following reasons, the Court grants the motions in part and denies them in part, as further explained below.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff System Development Integration LLC ("SDI") filed suit against CSC, alleging breach of 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. See Sys. Dev. Integration, LLC v. Computer Sci. Corp., 739 F. Supp. 2d 1063 (N.D. Ill. 2010). 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. See System Dev. Integration, LLC v. Computer Sciences Corp., No. 09-cv-4008, 2011 WL 1311903 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 1, 2011). Those claims remain pending, and a jury trial is scheduled for September 10, 2012.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Motions in Limine

"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). They also avoid wasting the jury's time with evidentiary fights.

Trial courts have broad discretion in ruling on evidentiary issues before trial. See United States v. Boros, 668 F.3d 901, 907 (7th Cir. 2012). 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).

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). Moreover, a "pretrial ruling denying a motion in limine 'does not necessarily mean that all evidence contested by the motion will be admitted at trial.'" Wielgus v. Ryobi Techs., Inc., No. 08 CV 1597, 2012 WL 2277851, at *1 (N.D. Ill. June 18, 2012) (quoting Hawthorne Partners. v. AT&T Techs., Inc., 831 F. Supp. 1398, 1401 (N.D. Ill. 1993)).

II. Federal Rules of Evidence 401, 402, and 403

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence ("Rule") 401, evidence is relevant if "it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence" and "the fact is of consequence in determining the action." Fed. R. Evid. 401; Boros, 668 F.3d at 907. "Rule 402 provides the corollary that, with certain exceptions, '[r]elevant evidence is admissible' and '[i]rrelevant evidence is not admissible.'" Boros, 668 F.3d at 907. Under Rule 403, "[t]he court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 403; Boros, 668 F.3d at 909.

ANALYSIS

In advance of trial, CSC has brought fifteen motions in limine. (R. 161.) On June 26, 2012, the Court denied CSC's third and fourth motions in limine without prejudice, denied CSC's fifth and twelfth motions in limine, and granted CSC's thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth motions in limine by agreement. (R. 164.) Currently pending before the Court are motion in limine numbers 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. The Court addresses each in turn.

Before addressing the substance of CSC's motions, however, the Court denies CSC's request that the Court "warn and caution all witnesses to follow" its orders regarding CSC's motions in limine. (R. 175, CSC's Mem. at 1.) "It is the job of counsel to ensure that witnesses are properly prepared so that they will not . . . volunteer information and to ask carefully framed questions" such that the witnesses' answers will not "yield otherwise inadmissible evidence or exceed the limits imposed on that testimony by prior rulings." Thakore, 670 F. Supp. 2d at 716. The Court fully expects counsel to properly prepare and advise their respective witnesses of the Court's orders, and to ensure that the witnesses do not violate those orders.

I. SDI's Two Remaining Claims

SDI's claims for breach of the alleged subcontract and, in the alternative, quantum meruit remain pending and will be tried before a jury. Illinois law applies to both claims. See Sys. Dev. Integration, 739 F. Supp. 2d at 1080. To succeed on its claim for breach of contract, SDI must prove "(1) the existence of a valid and enforceable contract; (2) substantial performance of the contract; (3) breach of the contract; and (4) resultant damages." Id. To prove its claim for quantum meruit, SDI must show "(1) it performed a service to benefit CSC; (2) it ...


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