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King v. Curtis

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

March 1, 2017

MADISON KING, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CHAD CURTIS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JANET T. NEFF United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court are the parties' objections to an October 27, 2016 Report and Recommendation (R&R, Dkt 285) and a November 1, 2016 Report and Recommendation (R&R, Dkt 286) of the Magistrate Judge. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3), the Court has performed de novo consideration of those portions of the Reports and Recommendations to which objections were made. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the objections and approves and adopts both Reports and Recommendations.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed this case on April 11, 2014, alleging that Defendant Chad Curtis sexually assaulted Plaintiffs while Curtis was a substitute teacher and worked in Lakewood High School's weight room. Defendant Curtis was convicted by a jury of six charges of criminal sexual conduct involving three of the four Plaintiffs and is currently serving a 7-15 year prison sentence (Dkt 1, Compl. ¶ 3). Against Defendant Curtis, Plaintiffs allege Battery (Count I) and Intentional Infliction of Severe Emotional Distress (IIED) (Count II). Against Defendant Lakewood Public Schools and Defendant Lakewood Public Schools Board of Education, whom the Magistrate Judge collectively references as “the Lakewood Defendants, ” Plaintiffs allege a Violation of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. § 1981 et seq. (Count III). Last, against Defendant Lakewood Public Schools, Defendant Lakewood Public Schools Board of Education and “James Roes 1-10, ” Plaintiffs allege a violation of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count IV). The Lakewood Defendants and the ten unidentified individuals, in turn, filed a Third-Party Complaint against Defendant Professional Contract Management, Inc. (PCMI) (Dkt 107).

         On September 18, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a “Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Against Defendant Curtis on Liability” (Dkt 122), arguing that Curtis' “criminal convictions established certain facts beyond a reasonable doubt which also establish each and every fact necessary to prove liability against Defendant Curtis on these [civil] claims, leaving only damages and the extent of Plaintiffs' emotional distress to be resolved by trial” (Dkt 123 at 2-3). On December 8, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending that this Court grant Plaintiffs' motion as to their Battery claims but deny the motion as to their IIED claims (R&R, Dkt 190 at 9). This Court subsequently denied Plaintiffs' objections and adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (Op. & Order, Dkt 207).

         In March 2016, the parties filed the following three dispositive motions: Third-Party Defendant PCMI's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt 214), the Lakewood Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt 215), and Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt 217). On October 27, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R, Dkt 285), recommending that Third-Party Defendant PCMI's motion be granted. On November 1, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued another Report and Recommendation (R&R, Dkt 286), recommending that the Lakewood Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment be granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment be denied. Now pending before the Court are the Lakewood Defendants' November 10, 2016 objections (Dkt 287), to which PCMI filed a response (Dkt 295); Plaintiffs' November 15, 2016 objections (Dkt 289), to which the Lakewood Defendants filed a response (Dkt 296); and the Lakewood Defendants' November 15, 2016 objections (Dkt 290), to which Plaintiffs filed a response (Dkt 297).

         II. DISCUSSION

          A. Standard of Review

         “[A] judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, ” with certain exceptions, including “a motion ... for summary judgment.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). “[A] judge may also designate a magistrate judge to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition, by a judge of the court, of any motion excepted in subparagraph (A). . .” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         “Within fourteen days after being served with a copy, any party may serve and file written objections to such proposed findings and recommendations as provided by rules of court.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2) (Objections). “Any party may respond to another party's objections within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy thereof.” W.D. Mich. LCivR 72.3(b) (Review of case-dispositive motions). “A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3) (Resolving Objections).

         B. October 27, 2016 Report and Recommendation (Dkt 285)

         The Magistrate Judge recommends that this Court grant Third-Party Defendant PCMI's motion for summary judgment of the Third-Party Complaint. The Magistrate Judge reasoned that to the extent that the Lakewood Defendants face liability in this matter under Title IX for failure to properly respond to Curtis' misconduct, their liability is the result of the wrongful acts by the District, its employees or agents, and the express terms of the parties' indemnification agreement renders the promise of indemnity inapplicable to liability that results from wrongful acts by the District or its employees or agents (Dkt 285 at PageID.4835).

         In their objections, the Lakewood Defendants assert that the Magistrate Judge erred in failing to “construe[] broadly” the contract language (Dkt 287 at PageID.4871-4872). The Lakewood Defendants assert that their wrongful conduct, if any, is, in fact, “related to” Curtis' misconduct inasmuch as but for Curtis' misconduct, the Lakewood Defendants “would not have had to take any steps to investigate or rectify his misconduct” (id. at PageID.4872).[1]

         The Lakewood Defendants' objection is properly denied.

         The Magistrate Judge considered the Lakewood Defendants' contract construction arguments, which were thoroughly presented in the underlying motion papers. The Lakewood Defendants' objection demonstrates only their disagreement with the Magistrate Judge's analysis, and not any factual or legal error by the Magistrate Judge. Accordingly, the objection supplies no basis for rejecting the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to grant PCMI's motion.

         C. November 1, 2016 Report and Recommendation (Dkt 286)

         1. Title ...


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