Zhan v. University of Mississippi Medical Center
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 84 Motion in Limine. Signed by District Judge Carlton W. Reeves on 1/5/17. (rg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CAUSE NO. 3:14-CV-00777-CWR-FKB
UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI
Before the Court is defendant’s motion in limine. Docket No. 84. The motion can be
summarized as seeking a pretrial ruling that plaintiff, who remains pro-se, may not introduce
evidence, testimony, or argument concerning dismissed claims. With one exception, the motion
Plaintiff may not introduce evidence or argument to prove claims of age discrimination;
sexual harassment; retaliation; Equal Pay Act violations; Title VII pay violations; state law tort
claims; or any other Common Law violations. Specifically, defendant has asked that the Court
disallow argument from plaintiff that she was underpaid; defendant committed fraud; defendant
improperly failed to promote plaintiff; and defendant used excessive force to remove plaintiff
from its premises. The Court grants these portions of defendant’s motion, as evidence or
argument on these points would not advance any element of plaintiff’s only surviving claim of
race discrimination under Title VII. Furthermore, plaintiff may not introduce testimony, medical
records, medical bills, or argument concerning her cancer diagnosis after leaving her position at
UMMC, the cancer treatment she has undergone or continues to receive, or any dental
procedures she may have received or is receiving. The Court understands and appreciates the
medical hardship plaintiff has endured; however, introducing this kind of evidence, testimony or
medical records does not prove any element of plaintiff’s Title VII race discrimination claim.
Finally, while plaintiff may not seek to prove a claim of national origin discrimination,
the Court denies defendant’s motion to the extent that it seeks to prevent the introduction of
alleged statements concerning plaintiff’s status as a Chinese woman, e.g. “Chinese Mafia” and
“Chinese steal.” Those statements may be introduced to prove that plaintiff was discriminated
against on the basis of her race. “In some contexts, national origin discrimination is so closely
related to racial discrimination as to be indistinguishable.” Bullard v. OMI Georgia, Inc., 640
F.2d 632, 634 (5th Cir. 1981) (citing Spiess v. C. Itoh & Co., 408 F.Supp. 916, 928 n.17 (S.D.
Tex. 1976). See also, Alizadeh v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 802 F.2d 111, 114 (5th Cir. 1986) ("We
have recognized the difficulty of differentiating between racial discrimination and discrimination
based on national origin.”); Jatoi v. Hurst-Euless-Bedford Hosp. Authority, 807 F.2d 1214, 1218
(5th Cir. 1987) (discussing the same difficulty in distinguishing one impermissible motivation of
discrimination from another). See generally, Alonzo v. Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A., 25
F.Supp.2d 455, 459 (S.D. NY. 1998) ("Whether being Hispanic constitutes a race or a national
origin category is a semantic distinction with historical implications not worthy of consideration
here."). Therefore, plaintiff may make use of such remarks to demonstrate that she suffered
discrimination by reason of her race.
Defendant’s motion in limine is granted in part and denied in part. The parties should
submit a joint pretrial order to the Court in advance of the pretrial conference. Further, the parties
are reminded of the Court’s instructions provided with the notice of pretrial conference,
particularly regarding the parties’ preparation to engage in meaningful settlement negotiations.
SO ORDERED, this the 5th day of January, 2017.
s/ Carlton W. Reeves
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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