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Tinsley v. City of Charlotte

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

March 8, 2019

MICHAEL TINSLEY, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF CHARLOTTE, Defendants.

          ORDER

          GRAHAM C. MULLEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER COMES before this Court on Defendant City of Charlotte's (“Defendant”) Motions in Limine (Doc. Nos. 65, 66, 75) and Defendant's Motion to Bifurcate (Doc. No. 74). Plaintiff has responded to the Motions (Doc. No. 69, 70, 76, 77). Thus, the matter is ripe for disposition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case is set for trial on March 19, 2019. In anticipation of trial, Defendant submitted three documents entitled “Motion in Limine” requesting fifteen (15) different categories of evidence be excluded for a variety of reasons. The requests can be broken into three distinct categories: (1) Motions to which Plaintiff does not object; (2) Motions that require brief discussion by the Court; and (3) Motions that will be determined during trial. The Court will discuss each category below.

         II. DISCUSSION

         a. Motions to which Plaintiff does not object

          First, Defendant moved to exclude the following categories of evidence: the existence of liability insurance, Defendant's ability to pay, and evidence regarding Plaintiff's claim for unemployment or testimony provided at the Employment Security Commission. (Doc. No. 65, p. 1-2). In Plaintiff's Response, Plaintiff indicated to the Court that Plaintiff did not object to those Motions. (Doc. No. 70, p. 1). Due to the consent of the Parties and after review of the Motions and surrounding law, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motions as it pertains to those categories of evidence.

         b. Motions that require discussion

         i. Back Pay and Front Pay

          Next, Defendant moved to prevent Plaintiff from presenting evidence of back pay to the jury. Defendant argues that back pay is an equitable remedy within the province of the Court, and therefore, should not be submitted to the jury. Plaintiff argued in Response that while the issue of back pay is equitable as it pertains to Title VII cases, back pay is a legal remedy to be submitted to the jury in Section 1983 cases. Because Plaintiff has sued Defendant under both theories, Plaintiff argues the issue of back pay should be submitted to the jury, and therefore, the Court should not exclude the evidence.

         Defendant also moved to prevent Plaintiff from presenting evidence of front pay to the jury. Again, Defendant argued that because it is an equitable remedy, it should be the Court not the jury to decide that issue. Plaintiff argued that Section 1983 allows the jury to consider evidence of front pay damages.

         The Court will withhold ruling on this issue pending a hearing prior to jury selection. The Court instructs the Parties to come prepared to discuss the issue of whether back and front pay are equitable remedies to be decided by the Court or legal remedies to be presented to the jury. The Court further instructs the Parties to come prepared to discuss the use of an advisory jury on these issues in the event the Court determines that these remedies are equitable.

         ii. Bifurcation

          Defendant moved to allow the trial to proceed first to liability, and if liability is found, then and only then present evidence of damages. Defendant made this Motion based upon Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(b). Plaintiff responded arguing that the ...


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