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Greggs v. Andrews University

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 9, 2015

ANDREWS UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants

Cheyenne Greggs, Plaintiff, Pro se, Syracuse, NY.

For Andrews University, Defendant: Brent G.T. Geraty, LEAD ATTORNEY, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI.

HUGH W. BRENNEMAN, JR., United States Magistrate Judge. Hon. Robert J. Jonker.


HUGH W. BRENNEMAN, JR., United States Magistrate Judge

This is a civil rights action brought by a pro se plaintiff, Cheyenne Greggs. Plaintiff's claim arose from a series of events which occurred in 1996 and 1997 which resulted in his expulsion from Andrews University (sometimes referred to as " the University"). This matter is now before the Court on defendant Andrews University's motion to dismiss plaintiff's third amended complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (docket no. 26), because the action is barred by the statute of limitations and the doctrine of res judicata.

I. Background

Plaintiff's case has a lengthy history spanning nearly 18 years and includes two previous unsuccessful lawsuits against Andrews University filed in the Michigan state courts. Andrews University relies in part on the opinions and orders entered in those previous cases. See Buck v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, 597 F.3d 812, 816 (6th Cir. 2010) (" [a]lthough typically courts are limited to the pleadings when faced with a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court may take judicial notice of other court proceedings without converting the motion into one for summary judgment").

In Greggs v. Andrews University, No. 234627, 2003 WL 1689619 (Mich.App. March 27, 2003), the Michigan Court of Appeals set out the factual basis of plaintiff's ongoing dispute with Andrews University:

Andrews University is a private, religious college located in Berrien Springs, which the Seventh-day Adventist Church founded. For the 1996-1997 school year, Andrews University published a student handbook outlining the school's policies. The handbook included a section entitled " Freedom from Harassment, " which listed the school's " Policy Statement on Discrimination and Harassment Including Sexual Harassment." While this policy mainly dealt with employment-related harassment and harassment tied to education, it also provided a basic description of the school's view of sexual harassment:
It is the policy of Andrews University to provide an educational and employment environment free from all forms of intimidation, hostility, offensive behavior and discrimination, including sexual harassment. Such discrimination or harassment may take the form of unwarranted verbal or physical conduct, verbal or written derogatory or discriminatory statements. . . .
* * *
A student who believes that he or she has been discriminated against or harassed should report the conduct to the chairperson of the department to which the teacher is assigned, and if the chairman is the aggrieving party, to the dean of the college/school in which he or she is enrolled.
Students are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner that is honest and is consistent with the traditions and beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Students may be disciplined for conduct that is hazardous to the health, safety or well-being of members of the university community; is incompatible with Biblical standards of morality as interpreted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church; or is detrimental to the university's interested whether such conduct occurs on or off campus or at university-sponsored events.
It is a voted policy of the University that in interpretation of University policies the ruling of the President shall prevail. She/he or the vice-President for Student Services may clarify any disciplinary policy by making a ruling thereon.
Dismissal or suspension from the University or lesser disciplinary action may result from the commission of any of the following offenses or violations:
* * *
2. Violation of Biblical teaching of sexual morality.
* * *
7. Sexual abuse, date/acquaintance rape, or any form of sexual harassment. . . .
On January 7, 1997, allegations of sexual misconduct were officially reported to Hoilette [Vice-President of Student Services]. It was at that time that [John Doe] accused Paul Flyger and Cheyenne Greggs of raping him some time in August of 1996. Dr. Hoilette appointed this Sexual Harassment Committee to investigate the complaint according to the formal procedure outlined in the Andrews University Policy Handbook, policy # 3:273:5:3. After careful consideration of the incidents as reported by [John Doe], Paul Flyger and Cheyenne Greggs, and after reviewing the written reports, interviewing the parties involved, listening to audio tapes presented to the committee, and after assessing the credibility of the parties involved accordingly, the Sexual Harassment Committee finds that:
1) [John Doe] indeed was a victim of unwelcome sexual advances and unwelcome sexual demands for an intimate physical encounter forced on him by both Paul Flyger and Cheyenne Greggs.
2) [John Doe] was the victim, Paul Flyger the aggressor, and Cheyenne Greggs not only a participant, but also a facilitator and orchestrator of the first incident which reportedly took place some time in August of 1996.
Andrews University eventually expelled Greggs, forcing him to move out of the school dormitory.

Greggs, 2003 WL 1689619 at *1-2 (brackets in original) (footnotes omitted).

In its supporting brief, Andrews University summarized plaintiff's two Michigan lawsuits which arose from his 1997 expulsion.

A. Mr. Greggs' First Lawsuit Against Andrews University
Some time before March 24, 1997, Mr. Greggs, through his attorney, filed a Complaint against Andrews University, together with a Petition for Ex Parte Interim Order, asking the court to stop Andrews University from evicting him. On March 24, 1997, Judge Lynda Tolen of the Berrien County [5th] District Court ordered Andrews University not interfere with Mr. Greggs' possession of his residence. See March 24, 1997 Order attached as Exhibit A [docket no. 27-1 at pp. ID# 310-12]. Upon receipt of this ex parte order, Andrews University immediately filed a motion asking Judge Tolen to rescind her order since landlord-tenant laws do not apply to student dormitories. Following an April 4, 1997 hearing on the matter, Judge Tolen ordered that her previous order be rescinded and set aside. See April 4, 1997 Order attached as Exhibit B [docket no. 27-1 at pp. ID# 313-15]. Andrews University was permitted to force Mr. Greggs out of its student residence hall since Mr. Greggs was no longer a student.

B. Mr. Greggs' Second Lawsuit Against Andrews University

Approximately one year later, on or about March 19, 1998, Mr. Greggs, again through his attorney, filed a second action against Andrews University, this time complaining that Andrews University defamed him and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him when the University investigated a complaint against him brought by another student, concluded that Mr. Greggs was " not only a participant, but also a facilitator and orchestrator" of an unwelcome intimate physical encounter between two male students, and dismissed him from the University. See Summons and Complaint attached as Exhibit C [docket no. 27-2 at pp. ID# 316-20].
After three years of litigation, Judge Paul Maloney, then of the Berrien County Circuit Court, granted Andrews University's motion for summary disposition and dismissed Mr. Greggs' lawsuit with prejudice. See May 15, 2001 Order attached as Exhibit D [docket no. 27-2 at pp. ID# 321-22]. A few months later, Judge Maloney ordered that Andrews University be granted mediation sanctions because Mr. Greggs unsuccessfully pursued his lawsuit despite a mediation panel's unanimous finding that Mr. Greggs' lawsuit was " Frivolous." See October 3, 2001 Order attached as Exhibit E [docket no. 27-3 at pp. ID# 323-24].

Defendant's Brief (docket no. 27 at pp. ID# 297-98).

In affirming the dismissal of plaintiff's second lawsuit, the Michigan Court of Appeals ...

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