United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZTOVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon consideration of Plaintiff
Jesus Vargas's Motions in Limine (Doc. # 55), filed on
August 2, 2017. Defendant Michaels Stores, Inc., filed its
response on August 16, 2017. (Doc. # 61). For the reasons
that follow, the Motions are denied without prejudice.
motion in limine presents a pretrial issue of admissibility
of evidence that is likely to arise at trial, and as such,
the order, like any other interlocutory order, remains
subject to reconsideration by the court throughout the
trial.” In re Seroquel Prods. Liab. Litig., Nos. 6:06-
md-1769-Orl-22DAB, 6:07-cv-15733-Orl-22DAB, 2009 WL 260989,
at *1 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 4, 2009). “The real purpose of a
motion in limine is to give the trial judge notice of the
movant's position so as to avoid the introduction of
damaging evidence which may irretrievably effect the fairness
of the trial.” Id. (internal quotation
omitted). “A court has the power to exclude evidence in
limine only when evidence is clearly inadmissible on all
potential grounds.” Id. (internal quotation
motion in limine is not the proper vehicle to resolve
substantive issues, to test issues of law, or to address or
narrow the issues to be tried.” LSQ Funding Grp. v. EDS
Field Servs., 879 F.Supp.2d 1320, 1337 (M.D. Fla.
2012)(citing Royal Indem. Co. v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co.,
No. 07-80172- CIV, 2008 WL 2323900, at *1 (S.D. Fla. June 5,
2008)). “Denial of a motion in limine does not
necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion
will be admitted at trial.” In re Seroquel, 2009 WL
260989, at *1 (internal quotation marks omitted).
“Instead, denial of the motion means the court cannot
determine whether the evidence in question should be excluded
outside the trial context.” Id. “The
court will entertain objections on individual proffers as
they arise at trial, even though the proffer falls within the
scope of a denied motion in limine.” Id.
district court has broad discretion to determine the
admissibility of evidence, and the appellate court will not
disturb this Court's judgment absent a clear abuse of
discretion. United States v. McLean, 138 F.3d 1398, 1403
(11th Cir. 1998); see also United States v. Jernigan, 341
F.3d 1273, 1285 (11th Cir. 2003)(“Inherent in this
standard is the firm recognition that there are difficult
evidentiary rulings that turn on matters uniquely within the
purview of the district court, which has first-hand access to
documentary evidence and is physically proximate to
testifying witnesses and the jury.”).
401, 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.” Fed.R.Evid.
401. Irrelevant evidence is inadmissible. Fed.R.Evid. 402.
All relevant evidence is admissible unless “its
probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of
unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the
jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or
needless presentation of cumulative evidence.”
Fed.R.Evid. 402, 403; United States v. Ross, 33 F.3d 1507,
1524 (11th Cir. 1994). Use of Rule 403 to exclude relevant
evidence is an “extraordinary remedy” whose
“major function . . . is limited to excluding matter of
scant or cumulative probative force, dragged in by the heels
for the sake of its prejudicial effect.” United States
v. Grant, 256 F.3d 1146, 1155 (11th Cir. 2001).
now seeks an order in limine barring Michaels from presenting
three types of evidence. (Doc. # 55). The Court will address
each type in turn.
Vargas's 2010 Performance Evaluation
seeks to exclude a 2010 performance evaluation from when he
was a Michaels store manager in New York. (Doc. # 55 at 2).
In the evaluation, Vargas's then-supervisor, District
Manager Lynnette Jones, commented “Jesus sometimes gets
short tempered with staff when they are not on the same page
as he is or if they push back on his direction. Jesus must
work on his negotiation skills with his entire staff to
maximize their performance.” (Doc. # 49-1 at 6). Vargas
asserts the evaluation “has no probative value and will
unfairly prejudice a jury against [him]” because Jones
never disciplined or counseled Vargas for any conduct related
to the evaluation and the evaluation occurred in New York
before Vargas's transfer to Tampa. (Doc. # 55 at 2).
Michaels argues the evaluation is directly relevant and not
unfairly prejudicial because Vargas “relies heavily on
the argument that [he] was never disciplined by his prior
managers, which, allegedly, indicates Zenn's
discriminatory animus.” (Doc. # 61 at 2).
“[Vargas's] 2010 performance evaluation evidences
that  the behavior Zenn witnessed and ultimately
disciplined [Vargas] for in 2013 began years earlier and was
observed by previous management.” (Id.).
Therefore, Michaels reasons, the evaluation “is
relevant for the jury to consider in its determination of
whether causation exists, as it is directly related to
Michaels'[s] theory of the case and is necessary to rebut
[Vargas's] argument.” (Id.).
Court agrees with Michaels that the performance evaluation is
relevant because it bears on Vargas's interaction style
with his staff. Indeed, the performance evaluation tends to
rebut Vargas's assertions that he never had any
disciplinary issues before Zenn became his supervisor.
Although the performance evaluation was not a disciplinary
action and was issued before the transfer to Tampa, it shows
that the behavior Vargas's employees complained of in the
Dale Mabry store was not unprecedented. Therefore, the
performance evaluation supports Michaels's contention
that its decision to discipline and ultimately terminate
Vargas was not motivated by discrimination. And the Court
cannot determine at this juncture whether the probative value
of the evaluation is outweighed by the risk of undue
prejudice or misleading the jury. Accordingly, Vargas's
Motion is denied without prejudice as to the 2010 performance
evaluation. But Vargas may raise more specific objections at