Last Friday, in a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit overturned a nearly $500,000 award to a septuagenarian dentist for age discrimination. The court noted that Rule 408 of the Federal Rules of Evidence bars use of a settlement offer "to prove liability for or invalidity of the claim or its amount." The court held that the district court erred under Rule 408 by allowing Dr. Stockman to present the defendants’ settlement offer to rebut evidence that he failed to mitigate damages. The court also determined that admission of the offer also violated Rule 403, which prohibits unduly prejudicial evidence, over the defendants’ offer to withdraw its mitigation defense. Because Dr. Stockman’s case otherwise rested on thin proof of age discrimination, the court reversed the judgment and remanded for a new trial. Stockman v. Oakcrest Dental Center, P.C., No. 05-1518 (6th Cir. Mar. 16, 2007).
Blawgletter guesses you could say that Rule 408 has teeth after all.