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Court upholds judgment in favor of employer in ethnic discrimination claim; awards some costs to Defendant

In 1998, in Ramanathan v. Wayne State University, the Plaintiff initially sued the University for discrimination, however, that claim was dismissed by the Michigan Supreme Court.  The Plaintiff's retaliation claim was allowed to go to the jury, however, after numerous additional appeals, but after a two-week trial the jury concluded that Ramanathan had not proved retaliation.  He appealed the outcome, arguing that the trial judge did not allow the jury to consider relevant evidence. 

In particular, the Plaintiff objected to the Court not allowing him to describe the discriminatory conduct that lead him to complain originally:  he maintained that the jury could not well decide the retaliation claim in the absence of an explanation of the nature of his complaints of discrimination.  The Court of Appeals upheld the exclusion of this evidence, deeming it likely to confuse or prejudice the jury. 

The Court also upheld the trial judge's exclusion of another professor's description of Plaintiff as "collegial" in rebuttal of University claims that he was "not collegial."  The higher court deemed this testimony relevant but "cumulative" [because another witness offered the same conclusion] and concluded that its relevance was "substantially outweighed" by prejudice to the Defendant.  The professor raised numerous additional issues of error in admitting evidence, all of which were excused or rationalized by the reviewing court.  The jury verdict was affirmed.

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