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North Point Advisors, Inc. v. The Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System

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

March 22, 2017

NORTH POINT ADVISORS, INC. and ADRIAN ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
THE DETROIT POLICE AND FIRE RETIREMENT SYSTEM and RYAN BIGELOW, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [#14]

          Denise Page Hood, United States District Court Chief Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On July 25, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 14]. Plaintiffs filed a response to the Motion to Dismiss on November 30, 2016, nearly three months late and on the same day the Court held a hearing on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This action arises out of an employment relationship between Plaintiffs and Defendant Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System (the “PFRS”). The PFRS is a defined pension benefit plan and defined contribution plan, and the employer and municipal plan sponsor for the system is the City of Detroit. The PFRS exists to pay benefits to its active members, retirees and beneficiaries.

         Plaintiffs served as investment managers and due diligence advisors for the PFRS, managing certain investments including the PFRS's emerging manager portfolio. Plaintiffs allege that their investment performance was satisfactory and had been approved by the PFRS's Trustees's investment consultant, Wilshire Associates. Plaintiffs allege that they provided satisfactory performance and work for the PFRS, but that:

Defendant PFRS, through Defendant Ryan Bigelow, made and published false statements in the October 2014 board meetings against Defendants [sic] which resulted in the PFRS Board of Trustees' termination of Defendants [sic]. The statements suggested that Plaintiffs had been involved in illegal conduct and falsely associated Plaintiffs with recent criminal convictions of City of Detroit public officials[, ] including the former Mayor of the City [of] Detroit, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick[.]

[Dkt. No. 12, PgID 48-49 at ¶12] Plaintiffs also allege:

         Defendants' false statements contain numerous false implications about Plaintiffs, including without limitation:

(1) That Plaintiff Adrian Anderson and/or Plaintiff [North Point Advisors, LLC (“NPA”)] were charged with crimes relative to the highly publicized public corruption charges that were brought against some of the City of Detroit's elected and/or appointed officials, agents and/or affiliates. In fact, neither Plaintiff was ever charged with any criminal wrongdoing of any kind or nature whatsoever by any law enforcement or prosecutorial entity.
(2) The implication that Plaintiffs' services are “tainted” or would otherwise cast aspersion upon the Defendants or other similar potential clients is highly offensive to Plaintiff Anderson as it would be to any reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities in Plaintiff Anderson's position and is harmful to the business reputations of both Plaintiffs.

[Dkt. No. 12, PgID 50-51 at ¶ 21]

         On October 1, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a three-count Complaint stemming from the alleged statements by Defendants: (1) Count I - business defamation (libel and slander)/defamation per se; (2) Count II - false light; and (3) Count III - intentional infliction of emotional distress. On May 24, 2016, the Court issued Plaintiffs an Order to Show Cause why this case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. On June 7, 2016, Plaintiffs responded, and on June 8, 2016, the Court vacated the Order to Show Cause. On June 9, 2016, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint. Upon agreement of the parties, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint on June 27, 2016.

         III. APPLICABLE ...


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