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Friday, February 21, 2020

Judge gives mixed decision on allowing documents in upcoming employment trial involving Miami-Dade County


By Sandra Lane | Jul 28, 2018

Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone

TAMPA – U.S. Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone has delivered a split decision on an employment case involving Miami-Dade County and a worker fired for alleged misconduct.

In the case of Nadia Rodriguez vs. Miami-Dade County, Sansone ruled July 18 on four pre-trial motions, in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida. The motions related to exhibits planned in an upcoming trial related to Rodriguez' dismissal.

Rodriguez is alleging retaliation and discrimination over his termination from a job at the Miami-Dade County’s Public Housing and Community Development Department.

For her upcoming trial, Rodriguez sought to present information on unemployment benefits. Exhibit 20, presented by Rodriguez, was opposed by Miami-Dade County. The exhibit provided information on a decision from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO). In its decision, the FDEO found that Rodriguez was entitled to unemployment benefits.

Miami-Dade County argued that “The FDEO’s decision is irrelevant and any probative value the FDEO’s decision might have is substantially outweighed by the danger of confusing or misleading the jury.”

In reply, court documents stated that Rodriguez argued that Miami-Dade County had the opportunity to appeal the FDEO’s decision finding her entitled to employment compensation, but Miami-Dade County failed to do so.

Sansone supported Miami-Dade County's argument:  “Like other unemployment compensation determinations, FDEO appeals referees’ decisions are irrelevant to determining whether an employer discriminated or retaliated against an employee,” Sansone wrote.

She also said, “Even if the appeals referee’s decision was relevant, the danger of misleading or confusing the jury if Ms. Rodriguez introduced the exhibit into evidence substantially outweighs its probative value. Therefore, Miami-Dade County’s motion to exclude Plaintiff’s Exhibit 20 is granted and Ms. Rodriguez’s motion for judicial notice of Plaintiff’s Exhibit 20 is denied.”

In reviewing other motions, Sansone granted Rodriguez’ motion to admit Exhibit 21, a printout of electronically stored information from her cell phone. In doing so, she denied Miami-Dade’s motion to not admit this evidence.

Sansone said, “Here, the call log Ms. Rodriguez seeks to admit in Plaintiff’s Exhibit 21 is not hearsay because it contains no human assertions. Therefore, Miami-Dade County’s objection under Rule 802 is overruled.”

She also denied Miami-Dade County’s motion to exclude Plaintiff’s Exhibit 22

Miami-Dade County’s Motion in Limine was granted in part by the judge and denied in part. Motions to exclude Plaintiff’s Exhibits 19 and 20 were granted. Motions to exclude Rodriguez’ Exhibits 21 and 22 were denied, according to the judge’s decision.

 In closing, the judge denied Ms. Rodriguez’s motion for judicial notice. 

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County of Miami-DadeU.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Tampa Division

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