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Witnesses Testifying about Damages not Permitted in Trial about Liability Alone

In the case of Meng Huang v. Ohio State Univ., S.D. Ohio No. 2:19-cv-1976 (April 27, 2023), a federal district court held that witnesses who had no personal knowledge of an incident in which a professor sexually touched the Ph.D. student and instead could only testify as to damages were not permitted to testify to the professor’s liability in the first stage of trial.

In this case, the Ph.D. student argued that the witnesses’ testimony was relevant because it would establish retaliatory actions on behalf of the professor that would not have occurred but-for the fact that the professor made advances on the Ph.D. student and was turned away. In response, the professor argued that the witnesses would not be able to provide any relevant evidence that inappropriate touching actually occurred. The federal district court agreed with the professor.

In support of its decision in favor of the professor, the federal district court explained:

The adverse actions do not prove that the touching occurred, but rather the adverse actions are evidence of the injury caused to [the student] by her refusal to submit to [the professor’s] advances. [The student] must first prove that the sexual advances took place in the form of unwanted touching. Then she will be allowed in stage two of the trial to show what injuries she suffered as a result of the unwanted touching and her refusal to submit to [the professor’s] advances.

Opinion and Order at 8-9.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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