Murphy v. Baptist Medcare Inc

Filing 158

ORDER finding as moot 150 Motion in Limine; granting 153 Motion in Limine ; the testimony of Dr. Lucy is excluded. Signed by Judge Rodney S. Webb on 11/20/08. (mkf)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS WESTERN DIVISION Misty Murphy, Plaintiff, vs. Baptist Medcare, Inc. d/b/a Practice Plus Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ORDER Defendant Baptist Medcare, Inc. moves the Court for an order excluding the testimony of Dr. Vince Lucy (doc. #153). Plaintiff Case No. 4:02-cv-440 Misty Murphy also moves for an order addressing the admissibility of Dr. Lucy's testimony (doc. #150). As discussed below, the Court agrees with Baptist that Dr. Lucy's testimony should be excluded, and thus Baptist's Motion in Limine is GRANTED. Dr. Lucy was an employee of Arkansas Health Group ("AHG"), an Arkansas not-for-profit corporation. Murphy, on the other At the hand, was employed by Practice Plus, a for-profit entity. pretrial conference held on November 18, 2008, the parties explained that these were separate entities, although they are connected through Baptist's large association of health-related companies. They did share the same decision-maker, Mike Heck, as well as the same human resources director and the same control group under Baptist. 1 Dr. Lucy allegedly engaged in protected activity by refusing to falsely certify that he was present during emergence. There was some dispute over his involvement in complaining about billing disputes, but ultimately both parties agreed that he was fired by Mike Heck, who also fired Murphy. Despite Murphy's contentions, the relevancy of Dr. Lucy's testimony is attenuated at best. Dr. Lucy's concerns regarding anesthesiology practices and any related billing problems were entirely different than Murphy's concerns. Her complaints were more directed at cheating the government in making reimbursement claims, which is the underlying subject of her False Claims Act claim before the Court. this false claims basis. Furthermore, the commonality between the two cases is strained. Murphy and Dr. Lucy were employed by separate entities Dr. Lucy's complaints had no relation to and they did not work together, and may not even know each other. While each person's final termination was signed off by Mike Heck, their complaints with their respective employers were brought to the attention of superiors through two different chains from the bottom up. Accordingly, the testimony of Dr. Lucy is too remote to Murphy's case under Federal Rule of Evidence 402, and, in any case, it would serve to unfairly prejudice the defendant, waste time, and confuse the issues under Rule 403. 2 Finally, the Court acknowledges Murphy's argument that the Eighth Circuit has allowed similar background evidence to be presented to assess whether "a given employer was more likely than not to have acted from an unlawful motive." Phillip v. ANR Freight Systems, Inc., 945 F.2d 1054, 1056 (8th Cir. 1991). Murphy's case is distinguishable, however, because those cases involved multiple employees, working for the same employer with the same corporate chain, regarding the same or similar circumstances leading to each's respective termination. not the case here, as described above. That is The Court thus GRANTS the defendant's Motion in Limine and excludes the testimony of Dr. Lucy. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated this 20th day of November, 2008. 3

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