Arnold v. City and County of Denver
ORDER granting 118 Motion In Limine To Exclude Evidence of EEOC Investigation or Determination by Judge Robert E. Blackburn on 2/4/15.(dkals, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Judge Robert E. Blackburn
Civil Action No. 14-cv-00290-REB-CBS
CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER,
ORDER GRANTING MOTION IN LIMINE
This matter is before me on the Defendant’s Motion In Limine To Exclude
Evidence of EEOC Investigation or Determination [#118]1 filed January 5, 2015. The
plaintiff filed a response [#129], and the defendant filed a reply [#133]. I grant the
In her complaint [#1], the plaintiff, Valerie Arnold, asserts claims of sex
discrimination and retaliation against her former employer, The City and County of
Denver. Before filing this case, Ms. Arnold filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC investigated and then issued a
Determination [#118-1]. In the Determination, the EEOC found “that there is reasonable
cause to believe that there is a violation of Title VII in that the Respondent did retaliate
against” Ms. Arnold. Determination [#118-1], p. 1. The EEOC made no finding on Ms.
“[#118]” is an example of the convention I use to identify the docket number assigned to a
specific paper by the court’s case management and electronic case filing system (CM/ECF). I use this
convention throughout this order.
Arnold’s charge of sex discrimination. Id. In its motion, the defendant seeks an order
excluding from evidence any evidence of the “EEOC’s investigation and determination
of the Plaintiff’s claims . . . .” Motion [#118], p. 6.
Without question, the Determination [#118-1] of the EEOC must be excluded
from evidence. In the Determination, the EEOC purports to have examined evidence
supporting the claims of the plaintiff, but does not summarize, describe, or discuss that
evidence. The EEOC applies a “reasonable cause to believe” standard of review and
concludes that there is “reasonable cause to believe” that the defendant retaliated
against the plaintiff. Determination [#118-1], p. 1. In the trial of this case, the jury will
apply a different standard of proof, i.e., proof by a preponderance of evidence. The jury
likely will be presented with some or all of the evidence presented to the EEOC and
likely will be presented with additional evidence.
The findings and conclusions of one trier of fact in a non-judicial administrative
proceeding do not bind and must not be allowed to direct or influence the findings and
conclusions that must be made by the trier of fact in this very different public, judicial
proceeding with different procedures, somewhat different issues, and a different
standard of proof. To permit otherwise would, inter alia, invite the jury in this trial
impermissibly to abrogate its sworn duty to decide the issues based on the evidence
and law presented during the trial of this case and to, instead, impermissibly adopt the
decisions of another trier of fact applying a different standard of proof. Admission of the
EEOC Determination in this case would invite the jury to improperly supplant and
substitute its judgment with that of the EEOC. These circumstances, if allowed to
develop, would impinge the right to a trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment.
In addition, I find that the Determination of the EEOC should be excluded under
Fed. R. Evid. 403. The Determination applies a standard of proof different than that
applicable in this case based on evidence unspecified. Any probativity of those findings
and conclusions is substantially outweighed by the dangers of confusing the issues,
misleading the jury, and wasting time. See also Fed. R. Evid. 611(a)(2). In addition, the
Determination likely will be unfairly prejudicial because consideration of the
Determination would invite the jury impermissibly to abrogate its sworn duty to decide
the issues based on the evidence and law presented during the trial of this case and to,
instead, impermissibly adopt the decisions of another trier of fact applying a different
standard of proof.
The defendant asks also that I preclude the admission of evidence of the
investigation conducted by EEOC. For the same reasons discussed above, evidence
showing the existence, substance, or result of the EEOC investigation is inadmissible.2
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED as follows:
1. That the Defendant’s Motion In Limine To Exclude Evidence of EEOC
Investigation or Determination [#118] filed January 5, 2015, is GRANTED;
2. That the EEOC Determination in [#118-1], is EXCLUDED from evidence; and
3. That evidence showing the existence, substance, or result of the EEOC
investigation is EXCLUDED from evidence.
Dated February 4, 2015, at Denver, Colorado.
BY THE COURT:
Conceivably, evidence used in the EEOC investigation could be relevant and otherwise
admissible in this case if that evidence differs from or contradicts evidence presented at trial. However,
nothing in the record of this case to date shows there is any such difference or contradiction.
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