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Hosse v. Sumner County Board of Education

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

March 19, 2018

RON HOSSE, Plaintiff,
v.
SUMNER COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HONORABLE MARVIN E. ASPEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The jury trial is scheduled to begin in this case on March 27, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. A final pretrial conference is set for 9:00 a.m., with jury selection to follow immediately thereafter. Presently before us are objections to various proposed trial exhibits filed by Plaintiff Ron Hosse and Defendant Sumner County Board of Education, along with their respective responses. (Dkt. Nos. 134-35, 137-38.) Defendant objects to Plaintiff's Proposed Exhibit Nos. 1-4, 7-8, 12, 15-16, 18, 23, 25, and 35. (Dkt. No. 134.) Plaintiff objects to Defendant's Proposed Exhibit No. 13. (Dkt. No. 135.) In order to “narrow the issues remaining for trial and to minimize disruptions at trial, ” we rule on each objection in turn below. United States v. Brawner, 173 F.3d 966, 970 (6th Cir. 1999). As our pretrial rulings are subject to change as trial unfolds, these rulings constitute a preliminary determination in preparation for trial. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41, 105 S.Ct. 460, 463 (1984); United States v. Yannott, 42 F.3d 999, 1007 (6th Cir. 1994). However, this ruling does not mean that these rulings may be reargued at trial absent compelling new facts or issues not previously presented by the parties and addressed in this opinion.

         I.DEFENDANT'S OBJECTIONS TO PLAINTIFF'S EXHIBITS

         A. Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 1

         Defendant objects to Plaintiff's Proposed Exhibit No. 1, Plaintiff's initial employment letter dated September 2, 1986, on relevancy grounds. Defendant argues the parties have already stipulated that Plaintiff was originally hired by Defendant in 1986, and the letter is otherwise irrelevant to the issues in the case. In response, Plaintiff argues the letter is relevant for purposes of showing Plaintiff was hired as Vocational Coordinator. However, the parties stipulated that Plaintiff “was originally hired by the Defendant, Sumner County Board of Education on August 20, 1986 as Vocational Coordinator.” (Dkt. No. 106 ¶ 1.) As there is no dispute as to the date Plaintiff was first hired or the position he held, even if Plaintiff's proposed exhibit were relevant, it is cumulative. See Fed. R. Evid. 403 (“The court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.”). Therefore, Defendant's objection is sustained.

         B. Plaintiff's Exhibit Nos. 2-4

         Defendant objects to Plaintiff's Proposed Exhibit Nos. 2-4, employment contracts the parties executed on August 23, 1986, on May 13, 1988, and on June 15, 2004, respectively. Plaintiff contends the contracts are relevant as they “specif[y] some of the duties and obligations Plaintiff bore during his long tenure with Defendant.” (Pl.'s Resp. (Dkt. No. 138) at 1.) Plaintiff also argues the contracts “identif[y]the parameters in which Defendant should address the situation in the event Plaintiff's position was ever ‘abolished, '” and thus any deviation from the parameters would suggest pretext. (Id. at 1-2.)

         Specifically, Plaintiff refers to the provision in the contracts stating “should school attendance decrease to the extent that a teaching position is to be abolished because it cannot be justified under the Rules and Regulations of the State Board of Education, this contract will be adjusted under the terms of the negotiated contract.” (See, e.g., Dkt. No. 19-3.) The contracts also provide that Plaintiff must “deliver[] to the superintendent the correct reports which may be at that time due” before being “entitled to demand a warrant for the payment of my salary.” (Id.) Plaintiff also agreed he was “obligated to carry out my duties” for a set number of days each year. (Id.)

         The employment contracts do not appear to specify any duties or obligations relevant to the issues in this case, and from a careful review of the documents, we fail to see how they support a finding of pretext. Plaintiff has offered no plausible argument indicating how his intended use of the evidence will bear on any material issues or make any facts of consequence more or less probable. See Fed. R. Evid. 401 (defining relevant evidence as “evidence having any tendency to make the existence of a fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence”); Fed.R.Evid. 402 (“Irrelevant evidence is not admissible.”). Accordingly, Defendant's objections are sustained.

         C. Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 7

         Plaintiff's Proposed Exhibit No. 7 is a letter dated June 23, 2011 from Plaintiff to Del Phillips, Director of Schools, indicating Plaintiff's desire to apply for a position as Chief Administrative Officer of Sumner County School District. Defendant argues the letter is irrelevant to the issue of why Plaintiff was reassigned to a new position in 2012. In response, Plaintiff argues the letter is relevant as it shows Plaintiff attempted to seek a position working for Phillips. Plaintiff has not explained how his attempt to work for Phillips in 2011 is relevant. Based on the current record, we find Plaintiff's letter, which predated his subsequent reassignment, is irrelevant to the issues in the case. Accordingly, Defendant's objection is sustained.

         D. Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 8

         Defendant also argues Plaintiff's Proposed Exhibit No. 8, a copy of Plaintiff's resume, is inadmissible hearsay. Defendant contends Plaintiff can testify at trial as to his experience and training and should not be allowed to introduce a hearsay document that he created. Plaintiff argues in response that the resume falls under the recorded recollection exception to the rule against hearsay. Plaintiff argues his resume details his “extensive employment and educational history, occupational responsibilities, and dates of each respectively, ” which Plaintiff “may not be able to recall . . . sufficient enough to testify and be cross-examined without extensive research.” (Pl.'s Resp. at 2.) Plaintiff asserts the resume was made when the information was fresh in his mind and it is an accurate portrayal of his belief and knowledge. (Id.)

         Hearsay is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Fed.R.Evid. 801(c). Hearsay is inadmissible unless an enumerated exception to the rule applies. Rule 803(5) provides an exception to the rule against hearsay for a record that “(A) is on a matter the witness once knew about but cannot recall well enough to testify fully and accurately; (B) was made or adopted by the witness when the matter was fresh in the witness's memory, and (C) accurately reflects the witness's knowledge.” ...


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