United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CHARLES B. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion in Limine (Doc.
No. 86), to which Plaintiffs have responded (Doc. No. 91).
For the reasons outlined below, Defendants' Motion is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Evidence or Argument Regarding Front Pay
“front pay” award is “money awarded for
lost compensation during the period between judgment and
reinstatement or in lieu of reinstatement.” Pollard
v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 532 U.S. 843, 846
(2001). “An award of front pay for claims under [42
U.S.C.] § 1983 is an equitable remedy; thus, the
district court has discretion to decide whether such an award
is appropriate.” Ballard v. Muskogee Reg'l Med.
Ctr., 238 F.3d 1250, 1253 (10th Cir. 2001); see also
Starrett v. Wadley, 876 F.2d 808, 824 (10th Cir. 1989).
argue that Plaintiffs have failed to properly advise that
they are seeking front pay or disclose their computation of
the front-pay damages sought, so that allowing them to
present such a request at trial would be unfairly
prejudicial. Plaintiffs object that they did adequately raise
the front-pay issue as well as the amounts they will seek.
that front pay is a purely equitable issue, the Court
declines to finally resolve this dispute now. Plaintiffs
shall not argue for a front-pay award before the jury. If
either Plaintiff prevails at trial, this Court will determine
post-verdict whether he or she is entitled to front pay, or
reinstatement, or some other form of relief. See
Ballard, 238 F.3d at 1253 (noting that front-pay
determinations “are made solely by the court”);
Gansert v. Colorado, 348 F.Supp.2d 1215, 1229 (D.
Colo. 2004); see also Blangsted v. Snowmass-Wildcat Fire
Prot. Dist., 642 F.Supp.2d 1250, 1265 (D. Colo. 2009)
(noting in First Amendment case that reinstatement is
generally the preferred remedy). In that event, the parties
will be given the opportunity to present argument and
evidence as to the propriety of such a remedy in this case.
Leona Porter's Lawsuit and Settlement
2018, Leona Porter, another Clerk's Office employee
terminated by Defendant Hooten, filed suit against Oklahoma
County, raising claims of age, disability, and race
discrimination. See Porter v. Okla. Cty., No.
CIV-18-320-G (W.D. Okla.). That case settled, but Plaintiffs
have identified Ms. Porter as an expected trial witness and
have listed case filings and evidence regarding her lawsuit
as trial exhibits. See Pl.'s Trial Exs. 22, 23,
24. Defendants seek to exclude the admission of any evidence
or testimony regarding Ms. Porter's lawsuit against
Oklahoma County and the subsequent settlement as irrelevant,
confusing, highly prejudicial, and inadmissible under Federal
Rule of Evidence 408. Plaintiffs argue that admission of this
evidence is proper “to help establish Defendants'
motives behind terminating Plaintiffs and for the finder of
fact to gain a more complete factual picture of the first
several weeks of Hooten taking office.” Pls.' Mot.
Court agrees with Defendants that this evidence is not
sufficiently relevant and GRANTS Defendants' request.
Regardless of whether it would otherwise be admissible under
Rule 408, Ms. Porter did not assert a First Amendment claim
in her lawsuit and so this evidence would not sufficiently
assist the trier of fact in determining whether
“Defendants' motives” included retaliation
for the exercise of protected speech. See Fed. R.
Evid. 401. Further, any probative value would be outweighed
by the danger that this evidence would confuse or mislead the
jury. See Fed. R. Evid. 403.
regarding Ms. Porter's lawsuit and settlement shall not
be presented at trial. Ms. Porter may testify as a fact
witness regarding her own tenure with and termination from
the Clerk's Office, omitting any mention of her later
Records from Oklahoma Employment Security Commission
title 40, section 2-610.1 of the Oklahoma Statutes,
Defendants argue that admission of any evidence of decisions
of the OESC violates Oklahoma law and that such evidence is
irrelevant and overly prejudicial. Plaintiffs agree that
their Trial Exhibit 65 (“Order of Decision of [OESC]
Appeal Tribunal 3/30/2017”) is inadmissible pursuant to
that statute, but they argue that evidence and filings that
were used in OESC proceedings are admissible, relevant, and
not unfairly prejudicial.
Court agrees that section 2-610.1 does not, on its face,
prohibit admission of unemployment applications or other
non-decision filings from OESC proceedings in this matter.
Neither the Motion nor the Response, however, describes any
of these other OESC filings with enough specificity for the
Court to gauge relevance and prejudice concerns at this
pretrial stage of proceedings. Defendants' request is
therefore GRANTED as to Plaintiffs Trial Exhibit 65. The
Court DENIES Defendants' request as to other ...