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The Investment Committee of the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit v. Jpmorgan Chase Bank
January 19, 2012
THE INVESTMENT COMMITTEE OF THE MANHATTAN AND BRONX SURFACE TRANSIT OPERATING AUTHORITY PENSION PLAN, IN ITS CAPACITY AS A FIDUCIARY OF THE MABSTOA PENSION PLAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shira A. Scheindlin, U.S.D.J.
Plaintiffs and defendant bring cross-motions in limine seeking rulings on evidence and the burden of proof in advance of trial. For the following reasons, both motions are granted in part and denied in part.
The purpose of a motion in limine is to allow a court to rule on the
admissibility of potential evidence in advance of trial.*fn2
A court will exclude evidence on a motion in limine only if
the evidence is "clearly inadmissible on all potential
grounds."*fn3 However, a court "considering a motion
in limine may reserve judgment until trial, so that the motion is
placed in the appropriate factual context."*fn4
Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence defines "relevant evidence" as "evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." Rule 402 states that "[i]rrelevant evidence is not admissible." Rule 403 states that relevant evidence "may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury."
A. JPMC Bank's Motion in Limine
Initially, I note that JPMorgan Chase Bank's ("JPMC Bank") opening memorandum raised two issues that are now moot. First, JPMC Bank sought to exclude "hearsay marketing documents" produced by Interactive Data Pricing and Reference Data, Inc., a securities pricing service. The parties have reached a consensual resolution of this issue.*fn5 Second, JPMC Bank also sought to exclude "patently prejudicial and irrelevant evidence and assertions by counsel and experts."*fn6 This issue is moot as plaintiffs have represented that they have no intention to "invite the jury to return a verdict 'based on generalized views about Wall Street, banks or the financial crisis.'"*fn7 Two issues remain to be resolved on JPMC Bank's motion.
1. Lawsuits Against Other Securities Lending Agents
Plaintiffs contend that they will not introduce evidence about
lawsuits if JPMC Bank is precluded from introducing evidence about
third-parties' decisions to purchase or hold Sigma notes.*fn8
However, plaintiffs argue that if JPMC Bank introduces
evidence about how third-parties acted, plaintiffs should be able to
introduce evidence that such third-parties are also facing lawsuits.
Plaintiffs' opposition brief does not cite a single case for the proposition that mere allegations of misconduct are probative. Indeed, courts generally exclude evidence of other related lawsuits.*fn9 As I stated at the January 10, 2012 conference, "I see little probative value in allegations only."*fn10 Accordingly, evidence of the existence of similar lawsuits is excluded from this trial.
2. Evidence About JPMC Bank's Repo Financing of Sigma
Plaintiffs seek to introduce evidence on the contractual terms and protections that JPMC Bank negotiated while providing repo financing to Sigma. Plaintiffs note that a fiduciary owes "a duty to the beneficiary in administering the trust to exercise such care and skill as a man of ordinary prudence would exercise in dealing with his own property."*fn11 Accordingly, plaintiffs ...
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