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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Court permits federal tax history as evidence in wage violation case


By Charmaine Little | Aug 16, 2019

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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida will allow a restaurant and others named in a lawsuit to bring their accusers' tax records into evidence, the court determined on July 23, but it barred evidence of prior litigation between the parties.

Omelia Del Rosario Gutierrez, Ana M. Castillo and Cecila Ramirez Brito filed the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and others. They sued Galiano Enterprises of Miami, Corp. (doing business as Galiano Restaurant) and Sultan Mamun, a manager with Galiano, for overtime wages (a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act), federal minimum wage violations and infringement on Florida minimum wage. The plaintiffs claim they worked more than 40 hours a week but weren’t paid wages that complied with FLSA. They added that they only made about $2 per hour.

The defendants were partially granted their motion in limine.

“The purpose of an in limine motion is to aid the trial process by enabling the court to rule in advance of trial on the relevance of certain forecasted evidence, as to issues that are definitely set for trial, without lengthy argument at, or interruption of, the trial,” the court said in its ruling.

The plaintiffs wanted the court to bar the defendants from providing testimony or evidence concerning attorneys’ fees, liquidated damages, the plaintiffs’ legal team and the payment or nonpayment the plaintiffs received for federal income taxes. They also asked the court to leave out the plaintiffs’ criminal history, their previous lawsuits against the defendants and the plaintiffs’ immigration status.

The defendants opposed only the evidence concerning federal income taxes and the prior litigation, so the court granted the motion for all of the other factors in question.

“We agree with defendants that whether plaintiffs paid federal income taxes is allowed for impeachment purposes because it is probative of plaintiffs’ character for truthfulness,” the court said in its ruling.

Concerning the prior litigation, the court noted that the Eleventh Circuit has already determined that evidence of other lawsuits is typically thought of as barred speculation. It said being able to present evidence can often result in a series of smaller trials based on the evidence of a related trial, but because it wasn’t clear what type of evidence the defendants wanted to bring this time around, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres ruled on the case.

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