Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ryan v. Mesa Unified School District

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 20, 2016

Sidney Ryan, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Mesa Unified School District and Joseph Goodman, in his individual capacity, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION [RE: MOTION AT DOCKET 79]

          JOHN W. SEDWICK SENIOR JUDGE

         I. MOTION PRESENTED

         At docket 79 plaintiffs Sidney Ryan, Jodi Ryan, and Jeffrey Hills (“Plaintiffs”), move in limine for an order excluding certain evidence at trial. Defendant Joseph Goodman (“Goodman”) opposes the motion at docket 82. Plaintiffs reply at docket 83.

         Oral argument was not requested and would not assist the court.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The court has described the background giving rise to this litigation in detail in the order at docket 96. It need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say for purposes of the present motion that Plaintiffs[1] contend that Goodman violated their First Amendment rights in dismissing them from their high school softball team. They now seek an order precluding the following evidence: (1) Christopher P. Thomas’ report; (2) B.H.’s social media postings made before or after the 2014 season; (3) various harassment or bullying reports filed with Mesa Public Schools; and (4) the handwritten notes of Athletic Director Steve Harris.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The district courts exercise broad discretion when ruling on motions in limine.[2] In order for evidence to be excluded under such motions, it must be “clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds.”[3] “Unless evidence meets this high standard, evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context.”[4]

         “It is settled law that in limine rulings are provisional. Such ‘rulings are not binding on the trial judge [who] may always change his mind during the course of a trial.’”[5] “Denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted to trial. Denial merely means that without the context of trial, the court is unable to determine whether the evidence in question should be excluded.”[6]

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Christopher P. Thomas’ Report

         After they were dismissed, Sidney Ryan and K.R. complained to Mesa Public Schools (“MPS”) that their dismissal was motivated by religious discrimination.[7]Assistant Superintendent Holly Williams investigated these allegations and determined that there was no evidence of discrimination.[8] When the students appealed this decision to Associate Superintendent Bruce Cox, Christopher P. Thomas (“Thomas”) was asked to investigate the matter further.[9] Thomas reviewed MPS’s documents, conducted additional interviews, and submitted a 27-page report that summarizes the facts.[10]

         Plaintiffs raise three objections to Thomas’ report.[11] First, they assert that the report is inadmissible because Thomas was neither a “fact witness” nor an expert who was disclosed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2). Although Goodman does not respond to this argument, it misses the mark because Plaintiffs do not explain why Thomas was not a lay witness. Do they contend that Thomas lacks personal knowledge of the documents he summarized? Or. that Thomas did not actually conduct the interviews that he summarized in his report? Plaintiffs do not say. This objection is overruled.

         Second, Plaintiffs object that the report is irrelevant under Rule 401, apparently because Plaintiffs think that Thomas is biased and the report was not the product of a “full and fair investigation.” These considerations go to the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.