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Tschappatt v. Crescent M Products, Inc.

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

June 12, 2018

DONALD T. TSCHAPPATT, Plaintiff,
v.
CRESCENT M PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion in Limine (ECF DKT # 16). For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendant's Motion.

         This case arises out of the termination of Plaintiff Donald T. Tschappatt's (“Plaintiff”) employment at Defendant Crescent M Products, Inc. (“Defendant” or the “Company”). Defendants seek an order in limine precluding Plaintiff from seeking reinstatement and backpay.

         Background Facts

         On January 14, 2015, Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment with the Company. Compl. ¶ 11. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was motivated by Plaintiff's age in terminating Plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 11. After Plaintiff's termination, Plaintiff placed several voicemail messages with and sent text messages to the company's owners and senior management which used profane language and insulted Plaintiff's former supervisor, the owner, the plant manager and the human resources manager.

         Plaintiff alleges Age Discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the “ADEA”), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4112. Plaintiff seeks damages including reinstatement and backpay. Defendant seeks an order in limine precluding Plaintiff from seeking those forms of relief.

         Defendant's Motion

         Defendant argues that the acquired evidence rule applies to this case. Since Plaintiff engaged in conduct that would have resulted in Plaintiff's termination if the employer had discovered that conduct prior to termination, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's damages are limited and Plaintiff should be precluded from seeking reinstatement and backpay.

         Defendant contends that the acquired evidence rule applies to post-termination conduct as well as pre-termination conduct. Defendant argues that the Supreme Court used broad language in the holding of McKennon v. Nashville Banner Publ. Co., which indicates the Court's intention to broadly apply the acquired evidence rule. Defendant also points to several cases outside of this Circuit which hold that the acquired evidence rule applies to post-termination misconduct.

         Plaintiff's Response

         Plaintiff argues that the acquired evidence rule does not apply to post-termination conduct and that the limiting language used in the McKennon holding supports this view. Furthermore, the cases cited by Defendant are inapplicable to this case because they are factually distinguishable. Plaintiff urges the Court to consider the Sixth Circuit case Jones v. Nissan North America, Inc., which Plaintiff contends supports Plaintiff's argument that the acquired evidence rule does not apply to conduct which occurred post-termination.

         LAW AND ARGUMENT

         Standard of Review

         “Motions in Limine are generally used to ensure evenhanded and expeditious management of trials by eliminating evidence that is clearly inadmissible for any purpose.” Indiana Insurance Co. v. General Electric Co., 326 F.Supp.2d 844, 846 (N.D.Ohio 2004) (citing Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Serv., 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir. 1997)). A “motion in limine, if granted, is a tentative, interlocutory, precautionary ruling by the trial court reflecting its anticipatory treatment of the evidentiary issue... the trial court is certainly at liberty ‘* * * to consider the admissibility of the disputed evidence in its actual context.'” State v. Grubb, 28 Ohio St.3d 199, 201-02 (1986) (citing State v. White, 6 Ohio App.3d 1, 4 (1982)). “Indeed, even if nothing unexpected happens at trial, the district judge is free, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, to alter a previous in limine ...


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