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Arroyo v. Volvo Parts North America, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 4, 2016

LUZMARIA ARROYO, Plaintiff,
v.
VOLVO GROUP NORTH AMERICA, LLC, d/b/a VOLVO PARTS NORTH AMERICA Defendant.

          ORDER

          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff’s motions in limine 1-4 [126] and Defendant’s motions in limine 1-5 [124] are granted in part and denied in part as set forth below. This case remains set for a final pretrial conference on 8/11/2016 at 2:00 p.m.

         STATEMENT

         I. Plaintiff’s Motions in Limine

         No. 1 - Motion to Bar Reference to Findings from the Department of Labor

         Plaintiff moves in limine to bar reference to any findings or opinions made by Michael J. Thomas, the District Director of the United States Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Program (“OFCCP”). Plaintiff says that in March 2013, Mr. Thomas found that there was “insufficient evidence that the contractor violated its obligations under the nondiscrimination and/or affirmative-action provisions of the Vietnam-Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, As Amended.” [126, at 66.] Defendant does not oppose this motion, confirming that “it is not seeking to introduce the OFCCP’s findings at trial.” [127, at 9.] Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion is granted.

         No. 2 - Motion to Bar Reference to Findings from Administrative Bodies

         Similar to her first motion, Plaintiff moves in limine to bar reference to any findings or opinions regarding the facts of this case made by any administrative body, including the findings or opinions of Colonel Thomas Gorski of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (“ESGR”) and/or Timothy Soderlund of Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (“VETS”). Defendant does not oppose this motion as it relates to the findings and opinions of Timothy Soderlund of VETS, and thus Plaintiff’s motion is granted as to that issue.

         However, Defendant opposes Plaintiff’s motion as it relates to Colonel Thomas Gorski of ESGR, stating that, if called to testify, Col. Gorski would offer “relevant, admissible evidence concerning Volvo’s participation in the ESGR mediation with Arroyo that successfully resolved several points regarding Arroyo’s military leave. Additionally, Colonel Gorski presented Keith Schroeder with a Patriotic Employer Award after Schroeder was nominated by Arroyo for the same.” [127, at 9.] At the final pre-trial conference, the parties identified the following witnesses as likely to be called to testify at trial: Keith Schroeder, Michael Temko, Sherrie Jankowski, Maureen Somersett, and Plaintiff LuzMaria Arroyo. Plaintiff also has indicated that she would like to have excerpts from the depositions of Regina Williams and Dennis Sholl read at trial. Defendant has objected to the reading of the depositions. Because neither party has indicated a likelihood of calling Col. Gorski at trial, the Court reserves ruling on this aspect of the motions in liming. If either party believes that Col. Gorski’s testimony should be presented at trial, that party should raise the issue with the Court at the earliest opportunity.

         No. 3 - Motion to Bar Evidence Regarding Unrelated Police Shootings in the Media

         Plaintiff moves in limine to bar any testimony, argument, or inference regarding unrelated stories of police shootings in the media. Defendants’ motion is granted. Any such evidence is irrelevant and highly prejudicial. Fed.R.Evid. 403; Rodriguez v. Cervantes, 2009 WL 3460100, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2009) (granting a similar motion); Morrow v. City of Chicago, 2011 WL 494577, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 7, 2011) (same). In addition, Defendant does not oppose this motion. [127, at 9.] Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion is granted.

         No. 4 - Motion to Bar Reference to Alleged Argument Between Adams and Plaintiff

         Plaintiff moves in limine to bar any reference to or mention of an alleged argument between Plaintiff and Tracey Adams, during which Plaintiff was reported to have confronted and threatened Adams after Adams complained to the police that Plaintiff parked her motorcycle in a handicap-designated parking space at the Volvo facility. Plaintiff’s motion is denied.

         Plaintiff’s claim in this case is that Defendant fired her for discriminatory reasons-i.e., on the basis of her military service and her disability (post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”)). Defendant says that it fired Plaintiff because of her poor attendance record. Plaintiff likely will dispute Defendant’s claim at trial, arguing that Defendant’s purported rationale for firing her is pretextual. To rebut this claim, Defendant intends to introduce evidence regarding this alleged threat-which it claims is a fireable offense-to show that it had other opportunities to terminate Plaintiff had that been its true motive. As Defendant says, “[t]he fact that Volvo did not terminate Arroyo on the spot for calling Adams ‘the enemy’ and referring to Adams as ...


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