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Quinones v. Atlantic Hyundai

April 28, 2010

MANUEL QUINONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ATLANTIC HYUNDAI, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker L. MELANÇON, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court are defendant Atlantic Hyundai's Motion to Bifurcate [Rec. Doc. 68], plaintiff's counsel Kenneth Pagliughi's Affirmation in opposition thereto [Rec. Doc. 92], and defendant's Reply in further support thereof [Rec. Doc. 100], and defendant's nine motions in limine [Rec. Docs. 70, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 81, 89, 109], plaintiff's counsel's affirmations in opposition thereto [Rec. Docs. 93-98, 107], and defendant's reply memoranda in further support thereof [Rec. Docs. 101-106, 108]. For the reasons that follow, defendant's Motion to Bifurcate [Rec. Doc. 68] will be DENIED, defendant's First, Second, Fourth and Fifth Motions in Limine [Rec. Docs. 70, 72, 76, 89] will be GRANTED, defendant's Eighth Motion in Limine [Rec. Doc. 81] will be DENIED AS MOOT with respect to the testimony of Dexter Lewis and DENIED with respect to the imposition of sanctions, and defendant's Third, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Motions in Limine [Rec. Docs. 74, 78, 80, 109] will be DENIED.

I. Background

Plaintiff asserts a disparate treatment discrimination claim against defendant under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., arising from the termination of his employment with defendant in November of 2004.

II. Discussion

A. Defendant's Motion to Bifurcate

Bifurcation is governed by Rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which permits separate trials "in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, or when separate trials will be conducive to expedition and economy[.]" The question of "whether to bifurcate a trial into liability and damages phases is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial court." Getty Petroleum Corp. v. Island Transp. Corp., 862 F.2d 10, 15 (2d Cir.1988). After due consideration of the Motion, based on the factors enunciated in Rule 42(b), the Court finds that bifurcation is not necessary or appropriate in this case, and defendant's Motion is denied.

B. Defendant's Motions in Limine

1. Evidence Relating to Discrimination at Atlantic Chevrolet Cadillac

In defendant's First Motion in Limine, it moves to exclude evidence relating to alleged discrimination at Atlantic Chevrolet Cadillac ("ACC"), including evidence relating to a consent decree and settlement agreement between ACC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Michael Opurum. ACC and defendant are both owned by John Staluppi, but they are separately managed and plaintiff puts forth no argument for treating them as a "single entity." Daniel Toomey, the manager who fired plaintiff, has never worked at ACC. As the probative value of evidence relating to alleged discrimination at ACC, if any, would be substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice if it is presented to the jury, see Fed.R.Evid. 403, such evidence may not be introduced.

2. Testimony of Thomas Coppolla, Sergio Medina, Mario Valerius, and Michael Doyle

In defendant's Second Motion in Limine, it moves to preclude Thomas Coppolla, Sergio Medina, Mario Valerius, and Michael Doyle from testifying. These witnesses were listed in plaintiff's Will Call Witness List [Rec. Doc. 63] as testifying in support of plaintiff's defamation claim, which has since been dismissed by order of this Court [Rec. Doc. 64]. As the statements on which plaintiff's defamation claim was based occurred after plaintiff was terminated, evidence relating to that claim is not relevant and may not be introduced. See Fed.R.Evid. 402. Therefore, Thomas Coppolla, Sergio Medina, Mario Valerius, and Michael Doyle are precluded from testifying at trial.

3. Testimony of Art Novell

In defendant's Third Motion in Limine, it moves to preclude John Staluppi, Art Novell, Michael Opurum and Pierre Medard from testifying. As Opurum and Medard are precluded pursuant to defendant's Second Motion in Limine, see Section II.B.2, and Staluppi is precluded pursuant to defendant's Fifth Motion in Limine, see Section II.B.5, the only issue remaining in the disposition of this Motion is whether Art Norvell should be allowed to testify. Defendant seeks to preclude Norvell from ...


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