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Gilliam v. Ordiway

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

November 24, 2015

Jerry Gilliam, Plaintiff,
William H. Ordiway, Jr., and Marveilyn Talisic Ordiway, Defendants

          Jerry Gilliam, Plaintiff, Pro se, Kansas City, MO.

         William H. Ordiway, Jr., Defendant, Pro se, Alger, MI.

         Marveilyn Talisic Ordiway, Defendant, Pro se, Alger, MI.

         Mag. Judge Mona K. Majzoub.


         JUDITH E. LEVY J.

          Pro se plaintiff Jerry Gilliam filed a second amended complaint on June 26, 2015, alleging " invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and out[r]ageous conduct inflicting extreme emotional distress," caused by defendants William H. Ordiway, Jr. and Marvielyn Talisic Ordiway (incorrectly spelled Marveilyn in the caption and throughout the complaint). (Dkt. 7.) Plaintiff invokes this Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, alleging that he is a citizen of Missouri, defendants are residents of Michigan, and damages exceed $75,000. ( Id. at 3.) Defendants also appear pro se in this action. Defendants filed an answer and motion to dismiss on July 21, 2015, (Dkt. 11), which is the subject of this opinion and order.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff alleges generally that from January 2014 through August 2014, defendants " made numerous communications to plaintiff and plaintiff's family members through telephone and internet services that included demands for money, accusations of crimes, [and] threats of arrest and imprisonment of plaintiff." (Dkt. 7 at 3.) Plaintiff claims that defendants' actions caused him " physical symptoms including rapid heartbeat, dizziness, unsteadiness, fainting, palpitating heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, night sweats, insomnia and nightmares." ( Id. at 10.)

         According to plaintiff, " defendant Ordiway" (it is unclear to which Ordiway plaintiff refers) made the first demand for $100,000 on January 5, 2014, " resulting in plaintiff suffering emotional distress." ( Id. ) Plaintiff claims that defendants attempted to " extort" this money from plaintiff " to cover hospital medical bills for [defendants'] adopted (sponsored) son, when [p]laintiff was not legally bound in any manner to pay such medical bills." ( Id. at 7-8.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant William Ordiway filed suit in Michigan state court " for [p]laintiff Gilliam to pay child support--motion and/or medical bill payments for $100,000.00 dollars--which the state court denied." ( Id. at 9.) According to plaintiff, these alleged demands caused him " numerous panic attacks, insomnia and overall extreme emotion distress for several months and continued until defendants ceased and desisted on or about August 2014." ( Id. )

         Plaintiff also alleges that defendants " committed invasion of privacy by communicating with [p]laintiff's family members concerning allegations, unsupported by relevant facts, of crimes committed in the Philippine Islands," specifically " accusing plaintiff of crimes of rape, bigamy and tax evasion." ( Id. at 4.) According to plaintiff, defendants committed " egregious misconduct" by attempting " to convince [p]laintiff's family of [p]laintiff's lack of morals and [to] portray plaintiff as a 'criminal.'" ( Id. )

         The alleged misconduct included sending " emails to plaintiff's family members" in an attempt " to damage plaintiff's reputation and character and standing with his family." ( Id. at 5.) Defendants allegedly " knew that plaintiff had made great efforts to locate his missing [seven]-year[-]old daughter," and " provided the[] allegations of crimes and arrest to plaintiff's family members with the intention to harm plaintiff and harm plaintiff's ability to get his ex-wife into a court of law." ( Id. ) Defendants allegedly " knew or reasonably should have known [that] to invade plaintiff's privacy by sharing the bogus allegations of crimes and pending felony warrant with plaintiff's family would cause harm to plaintiff and result in . . . emotional distress," especially given that defendants were " fully aware of plaintiff's mental health disorders." ( Id. at 5-6.)

         According to plaintiff, this " dissemination of . . . false allegations . . . interfered with plaintiff obtaining custody and visitation rights to his [seven]-year[-]old daughter." ( Id. at 6.) Plaintiff claims that he has " no such criminal past" because there were " no charges pending" and another incident " was settled." ( Id. )

         Plaintiff brings eight causes of action, which may be distilled as follows. First, plaintiff claims that defendant William Ordiway acted " with malicious intent to harm plaintiff" or " with reckless disregard towards the probability of causing emotional distress" by emailing plaintiff and plaintiff's family, and that his actions were the " actual and proximate cause" of plaintiff's emotional distress. ( Id. at 11-12.) Second, he alleges that defendant William Ordiway committed intentional infliction of emotional distress by knowingly or unreasonably interfering with plaintiff's custody and visitation order and his ability to bring his ex-wife into court. ( Id. at 14.) Third, defendant William Ordiway allegedly violated a duty of care owed to plaintiff " by disseminating allegations of crimes and immoral conduct to plaintiff's family[,] accusing plaintiff of rape, bigamy and tax evasion, all of which is false," which caused plaintiff emotional distress. ( Id. at 15-16.) Plaintiff brings separate causes of action against defendant Marvielyn Ordiway with the same general allegations, but for " aiding and abetting her husband." ( See id. at 12-16.)

         In their motion, defendants argue generally that plaintiff " has no evidence to support his claims due to the fact there is none." ( See Dkt. 11 at 3.) Defendants challenge plaintiff to " provide proof" of his allegations. ( Id. at 5-6.) According to defendants, there " were never ANY demands for money," and " the ONLY email that was sent to [p]laintiff with regards to any money was sent on 03/04/2014," which " only explain[ed] what happen[ed] and request[ed] [p]laintiff['s] contact info[rmation]." ( ...

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