United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
DER-YEGHIAYAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the court on the Plaintiff Robin Meade's
(Mead) motions in limine, and on Defendant Moraine Valley
Community College's (College) motions in limine. For the
reasons stated below, Meade's motions in limine are
denied and the College's motions in limine are granted.
court notes at the outset that this court granted the
College's motion to dismiss, and on appeal, the Seventh
Circuit found that this court should not have dismissed this
action, and remanded this action for further proceedings. The
Seventh Circuit stated that “[a]lthough Meade may not
pursue a due process claim based on the deprivation of a
liberty interest, she ha[d] pleaded enough to go forward on
the theory that the college deprived her of a protected
property interest” and that “[s]he ha[d] also
stated a claim for retaliation in violation of her First
Amendment rights.” Meade v. Moraine Valley Cmty.
Coll., 770 F.3d 680, 688 (7th Cir. 2014). This
court's ruling on the motions in limine is based upon the
evidence before this court at this juncture.
Meade's Motions in Limine
has filed five motions in limine.
Matter of Public Interest (Motion in Limine 1)
requests in her motion in limine 1 that the court bar the
College from arguing that the letter at issue in this case
(Letter) merely involved “workplace gripes” and
was not a matter of public interest. (M Mem. 2). Meade argues
that the Seventh Circuit, in remanding this case,
“already ruled on this issue.” (P Reply 1). In
denying the parties' cross motions for summary judgment,
this court noted that the Seventh Circuit stated that
“it is difficult to see how any part of” the
discussion in the Letter “could be considered purely
personal to Meade, or of zero interest to the public.”
Meade, 770 F.3d at 685. After the remand, this court
in ruling on the motions for summary judgment stated that
although the Seventh Circuit has indicated that at the
pleadings stage the content factor favors Meade, the Seventh
Circuit did not hold that factor to be dispositive on the
matter of public concern determination. The Seventh Circuit
found that this court erred in dismissing the instant action
at the initial pleadings stage, based on the limited record
before the Court. Whether the Letter involved a matter of
public concern has not been resolved as a matter of law by
this court or the Seventh Circuit and is still a question for
the jury to decide. Therefore, Meade's motion in limine 1
Knowingly False or Reckless Disregard (Motion in Limine 2)
requests in her motion in limine 2 that the court bar the
College from arguing that its officers had a reasonable
belief that the Letter was knowingly false or prepared with
reckless disregard for the truth. In denying the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment, this court has already
held that the College can pursue certain defenses such as
that the College reasonably believed that the Letter was
knowingly false or prepared by Meade with reckless disregard
for the truth of the various charges. (3/3/16 MO: 10). Meade
has not shown that the court erred in its prior ruling.
Therefore, Meade's motion in limine 2 is denied.
Waiver of Due Process Rights (Motion in Limine 3)
requests in her motion in limine 3 that the court bar the
College from arguing that she waived her due process rights
by not appearing at her Loudermill hearing. In
denying the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment,
this court held that there is not sufficient evidence in the
record to conclude as a matter of law whether Meade
justifiably failed to appear at the meeting or whether the
meeting would have accorded adequate due process to Meade.
(3/3/16 MO: 14-15). Meade has not shown that the court erred
in its prior ruling. Therefore, Meade's motion in limine
3 is denied.
of Due Process Violations (Motion in Limine 4)
requests in motion in limine 4 that the court bar the College
from arguing that any due process violation was cured by the
proceedings before Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board
(IELRB). In denying the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment, this court already addressed this issue,
stating that since the adequacy of post-termination process
is tied to the adequacy of the pre-termination process, which
in this case must be evaluated by the trier of fact, the
post-termination process in this case is not sufficient to
warrant an entry of summary judgment ...