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R.M.R. by P.A.L. v Muscogee Cty. Sch. Dist. - 165 F.3d 812 (11th Cir. 1999)

Rule:

A district court's decision to exclude a witness not listed on the pretrial order is reviewable only for abuse of discretion. An appellate court that is reviewing the decision to exclude a witness should consider: (1) the importance of the testimony, (2) the reason for the failure to disclose the witness earlier, and (3) the prejudice to the opposing party if the witness had been allowed to testify.

Facts:

Thirteen-year-old Robbie (R.M.R.) was sexually molested at school by his music teacher. R.M.R. then brought this suit against the Muscogee County School District (Muscogee), alleging that Muscogee was vicariously liable for this abuse under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Pub.L. No. 92-318, 86 Stat. 235, 373 (1972) (codified as amended at 20 U.S.C. § 1681 (1994)) (Title IX) and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Muscogee. R.M.R. and his mother, P.A.L., appealed, claiming that the district court erred by denying their motion to compel discovery of certain student records before trial, barring certain testimony of other witnesses at trial, and improperly excluding a last-minute witness who was not listed in the pretrial order.

Issue:

Did the district court err in denying introduction of certain evidence and witness against the defendant during trial?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that it did not abuse its discretion in refusing to compel discovery of rolodex cards for each student taught by the music teacher because R.M.R.s request was overly broad. R.M.R. was able to have employed a more focused discovery by asking for the names and contact information of all students who complained that that music teacher molested them. Second, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of a former student who appeared for the first time during trial and alleged that Muscogee knew he was similarly molested. R.M.R. had the opportunity to ask for a continuance or a mistrial but did not.

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