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Edwards v. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

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

May 22, 2017

FASCIA EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Marvin E. Aspen United States District Judge

         Presently before us are four motions in limine filed by Plaintiff Fascia Edwards, (Dkt. No. 223), as well as nine motions in limine filed by Defendant Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (“IDFPR”), (Dkt. Nos. 209-214). For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motions in limine are granted, and Defendant's motions in limine are granted in part and denied in part.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         We have broad discretion, based on our “inherent authority to manage the course of trials, ” when ruling on evidentiary questions presented in motions in limine. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4, 105 S.Ct. 460, 463 n.4 (1984); Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002). Rulings on motions in limine allow us to “eliminate from further consideration evidentiary submissions . . . [that] clearly would be inadmissible for any purpose.” Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Servs., 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997). For those evidentiary submissions that “cannot be evaluated accurately or sufficiently, ” we must “defer ruling until during trial.” Id. Finally, a ruling on a motion in limine is “subject to change as the case unfolds, ” and so we reserve the option of revisiting our preliminary evidentiary determinations as appropriate at trial. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41, 105 S.Ct. at 463.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Plaintiff's Motions in Limine

         Plaintiff's motions in limine seek to exclude evidence relating to: (1) the EEOC finding of no substantial evidence of discrimination in this case; (2) Plaintiff's claims that were dismissed at summary judgment; (3) Plaintiff's job performance, employment and disciplinary record; and (4) money Plaintiff has received from any collateral source, including workers compensation or unemployment benefits. (Dkt. No. 223 at 1-2.) Defendant does not oppose Plaintiff's motions in limine, and we therefore grant Plaintiff's motions.

         II. Defendant's Motions in Limine

         A. Unopposed Motions

         Defendant's first four motions in limine seek to: (1) bar all potential witnesses, except the parties, from being present in the courtroom until after their full testimony is presented; (2) admit all joint exhibits at the outset of trial; (3) bar any evidence relating to settlement discussions or negotiations; and (4) permit counsel for the parties to communicate with the jury after a verdict is entered in this matter. (Dkt. No. 209 at 1-2.) Plaintiff does not oppose these motions, and we therefore grant Defendant's first four motions in limine.

         B. Motion to Bar “Failure to Act” Claim

         Defendant requests that we bar Plaintiff from arguing, as a separate claim under the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), that “Defendant refused to reasonably accommodate her return to work and failed to engage in the interactive process with her.” (Dkt. No. 210.) Plaintiff agrees that “failure to interact” is not a separate claim, but that evidence of Defendant's alleged failure to act may be indicative of whether Defendant failed to reasonably accommodate her. (Dkt. No. 225 at 1-2.) An ADA claim may not be based solely on “the failure to engage in the interactive process, ” but such a failure is actionable where “it prevents identification of an appropriate accommodation for a qualified individual.” Basden v. Prof'l Transp., Inc., 714 F.3d 1034, 1039 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Rehling v. City of Chi., 207 F.3d 1009, 1016 (7th Cir. 2000)). We therefore grant Defendant's motion in limine. Plaintiff may not present evidence of an independent “failure to interact” claim. However, Plaintiff may introduce evidence relating to Defendant's alleged failure to engage in the interactive process, insofar as it is relevant to whether Defendant failed to reasonably accommodate her in violation of the ADA and otherwise admissible.

         C. Motion to Bar Evidence of Previously Dismissed Claims

         Defendant also moves to exclude any evidence relating to Plaintiff's “previously-dismissed claims under Title VII for race and gender discrimination, under the Rehabilitation Act for disability discrimination, and under the ADA for failure to reinstate/hire.” (Dkt. No. 211 at 1.) Defendant further argues that “any mention of actions associated with those claims” should be barred, as those actions are not relevant and would mislead the jury. (Id.) For example, Defendant contends we should exclude “Plaintiff's administrative charges, the posting of ‘REDRUM' on the door of her office area; being assigned to a different job than the one to which she applied; her supervisor keeping a ‘secret ...


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