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.

Issa v. Delaware State University

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 26, 2019

JAHI ISSA, Plaintiff,
v.
DELAWARE STATE UNIVERSITY, HARRY WILLIAMS, ALTON THOMPSON HARRY DOWNES, JR., JUSTIN BUCHWALD, and DOMINICK CAMP ALONE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          HONORABLE LEONARD P. STARKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         At Wilmington this 26th day of April, 2019:

         Having reviewed the proposed final pretrial order ("PTO") (D.I. 156) filed by Plaintiff Jahi Issa ("Issa" or "Plaintiff) and Defendants Delaware State University ("DSU"), Harry Williams, Alton Thompson, Harry Downes, Jr., Justin Buchwald, and Dominick Campalone ("Defendants"), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

         1. Plaintiffs motion in limine ("MIL") No. 1, to exclude Plaintiffs records from and references to Plaintiffs previous employment at Elizabeth City State University ("ECSU"), is DENIED. Defendants offer this evidence for proper non-propensity purposes: most especially to counter Plaintiffs contention that Defendants were the cause of his alleged post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD") ("This evidence is highly probative of his claim that he developed PTSD as a result of on-going race-based harassment at DSU.") (PTO Ex. B-2 at 1 n.l), and also as support for Defendants' position that Plaintiffs allegations are part of a common scheme or plan ("If an adverse action is taken against him, he alleges racism.") (id. at 1). While admission of this evidence does bring with it a risk of unfair prejudice, confusion of the jury, and waste of time, [1]these concerns do not substantially outweigh the probative value of the evidence. Additionally, any party may propose that the Court provide the jury a limiting instruction at or around the time of admission of the ECSU evidence and/or as part of the final jury instructions.

         2. Plaintiffs MIL No. 2, to exclude any mention or reference to "other videos" that were not produced during discovery, is DENIED. The Court is not persuaded by Plaintiffs contention that the jury will somehow hold it against him that the "other videos" are not being presented to them. The parties have factual disputes relating to the "other videos," including whether they ever existed, what they depicted, who viewed them, and the extent to which (if at all) they genuinely contributed to the decisions made with respect to Plaintiffs employment. The jury will be assisted in fulfilling its obligations by hearing the contested evidence from both sides on these and related issues. More importantly, the Court does not see how it could provide a fair trial to all parties - and one that would permit the jury to decide the issues it will be presented -by trying to excise all or many of the multiple references to "other videos" contained in the record.

         As to whether one or more Defendants had an obligation to preserve videos that were at one time publicly available (e.g., on social media platforms and the internet), and equally accessible to all parties to this case, and which purportedly formed a basis for the employment-related decisions that are at issue in this case, neither side has presented adequate briefing. Should any party request that the Court instruct the jury on this point, [2] it will have to make a timely proposal supported by argument and any pertinent authority.[3]

         3. Plaintiffs MIL No. 3, to exclude records from and references to Plaintiffs custody and family court proceedings, is unopposed and GRANTED.

         4. Defendants' MIL No. 1, to exclude evidence of the disposition of the criminal proceedings, will be argued at today's pretrial conference ("PTC").

         5. Defendants' MIL No. 2, to exclude the evidence of the Public Employee Relations Board proceedings and adjudications, is DENIED AS MOOT. (See D.I. 166 at ¶ 2)

         6. Defendants' MIL No. 3, to exclude evidence of surveillance cameras, is DENIED for many of the same reasons as the Court denied Plaintiffs MIL No. 2. Again, the Court does not see how it could provide a fair trial to all parties - and one that would permit the jury to decide the issues it will be presented - by trying to excise all or many of the multiple references to "other videos" contained in the record, including those "other videos" that Plaintiff characterizes as "surveillance videos" that may (or may not) have been captured by cameras placed on the DSU building at and around where the March 1, 2012 incident occurred. It is not clear to the Court that the degree of "speculation" required to make a finding (i.e., a chain of reasonable inferences from evidence that will be presented)[4] that "surveillance videos" capturing relevant material once existed is materially greater than the degree of "speculation" required to make the finding Defendants evidently will seek that some unspecified "other videos" showed Plaintiff "hit," "shove," or otherwise act aggressively toward police on March 1, 2012. See generally PTO Ex. G Pl's Resp. at 1 ("Defendants created this whole sideshow by claiming the existence of 'other videos' that were not produced in this litigation in order to bolster their false claim that there was video evidence of the alleged 'hit' that formed the basis for Dr. Issa's arrest.").[5]

---------

Notes:

[1]The Court will not permit Defendants to use this (or any evidence) to "annoy, harass, or embarrass Dr. Issa." (PTO Ex. B-l at 2)

[2]For example: "You have heard evidence that other videos besides those shown to you in this trial may have existed and may have been considered as part of Defendants' decision-making process with respect to Plaintiffs employment. Should you find that such videos existed and were considered by Defendants, you [may/must] find that Defendants [did/did not] have an obligation to ...


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.