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Faraone v. Heath

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

March 21, 2017

Michael A. Faraone, Plaintiff,
v.
Patrick J. Heath, Julie L. Goldman, Daphne M. Johnson, and Denise R. Allsberry, in their individual capacities, Defendants.

          R. Steven Whalen Mag. Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [42]

          JUDITH E. LEVY United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is plaintiff Michael A. Faraone's motion for reconsideration of the order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 42.)

         For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion is denied.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is an attorney who previously served as an independent contractor for the Parole Violation Unit of the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”). In this position, he represented parolees charged with parole violations during hearings before administrative law examiners (“ALEs”). He received compensation of $45 per hour for up to six hours of work for each case. (Dkt. 20 at 4.)

         Plaintiff appeared at hearings at which Parole Violation Specialist Cynthia VanLake was also present. Plaintiff believed Ms. VanLake was inefficient and wasting public time and money by, among other things, repeatedly adjourning cases. As plaintiff said during his deposition, “[T]he real problem we had - I'm almost willing to say the only problem I had with her was the unpreparedness.” (Dkt. 27-2 at 5 (Pl's. Dep.)). And because plaintiff was compensated for only six hours per case, the adjournments allegedly caused him to lose money. Plaintiff's wife wrote to the head of the Parole Violation Unit about the losses he was incurring, stating that Ms. VanLake's conduct made “things more difficult and, ultimately extremely costly” for plaintiff, eventually causing him to lose clients and “[write] off thousands upon thousands of dollars.” (Dkt. 30-8 at 1.)

         Plaintiff complained about Ms. VanLake's conduct to defendant Patrick J. Heath, who discussed the matter with the other defendants. Defendants decided to inform plaintiff that his services would no longer be required.

         Plaintiff then filed this complaint against defendants Patrick J. Heath, Julie L. Goldman, Daphne M. Johnson, and Denise R. Allsberry. Plaintiff claimed he was terminated in retaliation for threatening to “inform the public that their resources were being wasted” by Ms. VanLake's conduct. (Dkt. 1 at 5.) Specifically, he alleges that he “engaged in protected activity under the First Amendment by speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern, i.e. government waste by an MDOC employee, ” and his termination “violated well-established First Amendment rights by censoring speech.” (Id. at 6.)

         On January 18, 2017, the Court held a hearing on defendants' motion for summary judgment, and granted the motion. (See Dkt. 40.) Plaintiff then filed this motion for reconsideration, arguing that he had brought a claim for First Amendment retaliation with respect to the petition clause, not just the speech clause, and the Court erred in failing to consider it. (Dkt. 42 at 3.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A motion for reconsideration should be granted “if the movant demonstrates a palpable defect by which the court and the parties have been misled and that a different disposition of the case must result from a correction thereof.” In re Greektown Holdings, LLC, 728 F.3d 567, 573-74 (6th Cir. 2013). “A palpable defect is one that is ‘obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest, or plain.'” Majchrzak v. Cty. of Wayne, 838 F.Supp.2d 586, 596 (E.D. Mich. 2011).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff claims the decision to grant defendants' motion for summary judgment was erroneous because the Court concluded plaintiff did not bring a First Amendment retaliation claim for exercising his right to petition the government. Plaintiff argues the Court should have found plaintiff pleaded the petition clause component of the retaliation claim based on the analysis in E ...


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