United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
CHERYL L. TAYLOR
CHEDDAR'S CASUAL CAFÉ, INC.
HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MAURICE HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Cheryl L. Taylor's
(“Taylor”) Motion in Limine (Record Document 29).
In the Motion, Taylor seeks an order prohibiting Defendant
Cheddar's Casual Café, Inc.
(“Cheddar's”) from “presenting,
mentioning, referencing, or introducing” three
different pieces of evidence in the trial of the
above-captioned matter. Record Document 29. For the reasons
contained herein, the Motion in Limine is GRANTED IN PART AND
DENIED IN PART.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
is a natural person domiciled in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
See Record Document 1-2. Cheddar's is a
corporation organized under the laws of the state of Delaware
with its principal place of business in the state of Texas.
See Record Document 1 at ¶ 2(A)(2). On August
15, 2013, Taylor alleges that she slipped and fell on a
puddle of water by the fish tank at Cheddar's'
restaurant in Shreveport. See Record Document 1-2.
Taylor alleges that Cheddar's failed to warn customers of
the presence of the water, that employees of Cheddar's
knew or should have known of the presence of the water on the
floor, and that these employees failed to protect
Cheddar's' customers. See id. Taylor
subsequently filed bankruptcy on September 4, 2013.
See Record Document 32-4.
Young (“Young”) was an employee of Cheddar's
who was working at the Shreveport location of Cheddar's
at the time of Taylor's fall. See Record
Documents 32- 1, 32-2, and 32-3. Two insurance adjusters
interviewed Young after Taylor's fall. See
Record Documents 32-2 and 32-3. These adjusters testified in
their depositions that in those interviews, Young told them
that there was no water on the floor where Taylor slipped.
See id. Evidently, Cheddar's manager
subsequently fired Young based on allegations that he had
been stealing from Cheddar's. See Record
Documents 29 and 32. Young later testified in his October 1,
2015, deposition that there was liquid from spilled drinks on
the floor where Taylor had slipped and fallen. See
Record Document 32-3.
originally filed the instant action on March 12, 2014, in the
First Judicial District Court of Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
See Record Document 1-2 at 4. On March 11, 2015,
Cheddar's removed the action to this Court on the basis
of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
See Record Document 1. On March 31, 2016, Taylor
filed the instant Motion in Limine. See Record
Document 29. On April 7, 2016, Cheddar's filed a
Memorandum in Opposition to the Motion in Limine with
attached exhibits. See Record Document 32.
Motion in Limine seeks an order prohibiting Cheddar's
from “presenting, mentioning, referencing, or
introducing” three different pieces of evidence in the
trial of the instant action: (1) Young's alleged theft
from Cheddar's; (2) Taylor's bankruptcy filing and
subsequent proceedings; and (3) any statements made by Young
to Cheddar's, its representatives, or its insurance
company representatives after the fall. Record Document 29.
Cheddar's opposes the Motion for all three pieces of
evidence. See Record Document 32.
Young's Alleged Theft from Cheddar's
argues that evidence of Young's alleged theft from
Cheddar's is inadmissible because Young was neither
charged with nor convicted of a crime based on this
allegation. See Record Document 29-1. Thus, the
reason for Young's dismissal from Cheddar's is not
admissible as extrinsic evidence of character for
untruthfulness under Federal Rule of Evidence 609. Taylor
also argues that “defendant should not be allowed to
backdoor evidence of an alleged theft for the purpose of
attacking credibility” and that “defendant cannot
attempt to introduce this evidence for the sole purpose of
attacking Mr. Young's credibility” under Rule 608.
Id. Taylor cites to U.S. v. Ferrell, 625
F.Supp. 41, 44 (E.D. Pa. 1985), for the proposition that
“Rule 608 precludes evidence that is offered solely to
prove that a witness has been untruthful. It does not limit a
party's introducing extrinsic evidence that may have the
effect of generally impugning a witness's credibility,
but is offered for some other relevant purpose.”
Id. According to Taylor, there is no other relevant
purpose for the admission of this evidence, so it is not
admissible. See id.
argues that these facts are admissible as potential evidence
of bias, particularly considering that there is some evidence
indicating that Young changed his story about Taylor's
fall after his termination from Cheddar's. See
Record Document 32. Cheddar's cites to United States
v. Abel, 469 U.S. 45 (1984), for the proposition that
extrinsic evidence of a witness' possible bias against a
party is relevant evidence that is generally admissible.
argument is correct. Extrinsic evidence of Young's firing
by Cheddar's and the reason for which he was fired (the
alleged theft) is not admissible as evidence of a prior
criminal conviction under Rule 609, as Young was never
convicted of a crime. It may not be admissible under Rule 608
as evidence of a prior act demonstrating Young's
character for untruthfulness. The Court need not decide that
question, however, as Cheddar's has identified another
“relevant purpose” for which this evidence is
admissible: attacking Young's credibility by
demonstrating that he may be biased against Cheddar's.
See Ferrell, 625 F.Supp. at 44.
Abel, the Supreme Court addressed an argument that
allowing the Government to impeach a witness with extrinsic
evidence of bias was reversible error. See 469 U.S.
at 46-56. The Court explained that though the Federal Rules
of Evidence do not have a particular Rule expressly
addressing impeachment of a witness for bias, this method of
impeachment is nonetheless available to the same extent it
was available prior to the promulgation of the Rules. See
id. at 49-51. Regarding extrinsic evidence of bias, the
Court explained that “the ‘common law of
evidence' allowed the showing of bias by extrinsic
evidence, while requiring the cross-examiner to ‘take
the answer of the witness' with respect to less favored
forms of impeachment.” Id. at 52. Evidence
that Cheddar's fired Young because of alleged theft is
probative of Young's possible bias against Cheddar's;
Young could be biased because of the allegation of theft, the
firing, or both. Thus, Cheddar's has ...