United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION, DISMISSING COMPLAINT, AND DENYING LEAVE TO
APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS
L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
August 16, 2016, Plaintiff Stacy Hawkins filed a complaint
naming William Richter, Nevin Steinbrink, Nicholas Wilson,
Michael Herbolsheimer, Steinbrink Engineer, Fashion Square
Dental, and Google, Inc., as Defendants. ECF No. 1.
Hawkins' complaint contends that his “business
partners” in a “high tech, high growth
startup” sabotaged and betrayed him by, among other
things, hacking his company-related email and social media
accounts. Compl. at 1- 2, ECF No. 1. All pretrial matters
were referred to Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris. ECF
No.3. On September 27, 2016, Defendant Google filed a motion
to dismiss all claims against it. ECF No. 11. The remaining
Defendants filed answers on the same date. ECF Nos. 12, 13,
14. On January 19, 2017, all Defendants except Google filed a
motion to dismiss and motion for judgment on the pleadings.
ECF No. 29. On March 16, 2017, Judge Morris issued a report
which found that this Court does not have jurisdiction to
adjudicate Hawkins' claims and which recommended
dismissal. ECF No. 37. Hawkins has filed objections. ECF No.
38. For the reasons stated below, those objections will be
overruled and the complaint will be dismissed.
well-pleaded factual allegations in Hawkins' complaint
will be assumed to be true. Plaintiff Stacy Hawkins alleges
that in June of 2012 he began discussing business ventures
with his dentist, William Richter. Compl. at 6. Together, the
two developed an idea for a “health app” that
would connect to toothbrushes and inform the app user
“how well they brushed.” Id. at 6-8.
They intended to call the app “LifeBrush.”
Id. at 11. They founded a company, which they named
“Click Care, ” to pursue this idea. Id.
at 7. Over time, several investors and partners joined
Hawkins and Richter. Hawkins contends that, despite the
growing number of people involved, he “sacrificed his
financial well-being and his physical well-being” to
develop Click Care. Id. at 14. The Click Care Team
set up business email addresses via Google. Id. at
17. The email addresses at issue in Hawkins' suit are:
Stacy@LifeBrush.net, LifeBrushTeam@LifeBrush.net, and
Developer@LifeBrush.net. Id. at 17. Hawkins was the
“Super Administrator” of the accounts, used
Stacy@LifeBrush.net as his personal and business account, and
was the only person who knew the password to that account.
Hawkins also created a company LinkedIn profile, called
“LifeBrush Team” and (later) “Click
Care's LifeBrush, ” which he managed. Id.
the Click Care team decided to formalize the company by
drafting an operating agreement. Id. at 18. Despite
Hawkins' best efforts, the Click Care team was unable to
attract sufficient investors. Id. at 27-28. The
other members of Click Care informed Hawkins “they were
voting him out of the company.” Id. at 28.
Hawkins argued that they did not have the authority to do so
and “expressed that his equity gave him the authority
to vote them out and he was exercising that right to do
so.” Id. Despite the uncertain status of the
ownership of the company, the other members of Click Care
asked Hawkins to turn over the passwords to the Click Care
LinkedIn Profile and the email accounts he was administrator
of. Id. Hawkins refused. Id. In response,
the other members of Click Care attempted to hack the
accounts. Id. Eventually, they contacted Google Tech
Support and, through their help, gained access to the
accounts. Id. at 28-29. Hawkins contends that the
emails in his account contained proof that he owns Click
Care, but that the hacking has prevented him from accessing
current suit, Hawkins advances ten claims for relief. First,
Hawkins seeks a “declaratory order” confirming
that the account hacking violated state and federal law
because individuals who create “password-protected
accounts via a computer system/network have an expectation of
privacy with regard to those accounts.” Id. at
29. Second, Hawkins alleges that the Defendants violated the
Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701, et.
seq. Third, he contends that Defendants violated
Michigan's Misuse of Computer Statute, M.C.L. 752.791,
et. seq. In Counts Four through Seven, Hawkins
argues that Defendants Google, Steinbrink, Steinbrink
Engineering, and Richter violated their fiduciary duty. In
the Eight Count, Hawkins asks the Court to enter a
declaratory order interpreting the Operating Agreement and
finding that he owns Click Care. In Count Nine, Hawkins
alleges that Defendants Richter, Steinbrink, Wilson,
Herbolsheimer, and Steinbrink Engineering breached their
contract with him. In Count Ten, Hawkins alleges that
Defendants Richter, Fashion Square Dental, Steinbrink,
Wilson, Herbolsheimer, and Steinbrink Engineering converted
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, a party may object to
and seek review of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2).
Objections must be stated with specificity. Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151 (1985) (citation omitted). If
objections are made, “[t]he district judge must
determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's
disposition that has been properly objected to.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review requires at least a
review of the evidence before the magistrate judge; the Court
may not act solely on the basis of a magistrate judge's
report and recommendation. See Hill v. Duriron Co.,
656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). After reviewing the
evidence, the Court is free to accept, reject, or modify the
findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge. See
Lardie v. Birkett, 221 F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich.
those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo
review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d
636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). “The parties have the duty to
pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that
the district court must specially consider.”
Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
A general objection, or one that merely restates the
arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently
identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge.
See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D.
Mich. 2004). An “objection” that does nothing
more than disagree with a magistrate judge's
determination, “without explaining the source of the
error, ” is not considered a valid objection.
Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932
F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Without specific objections,
“[t]he functions of the district court are effectively
duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court
perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort
wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs
contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.”
report and recommendation, Judge Morris concludes that
because none of Hawkins' claims arise out of federal law,
federal jurisdiction is not present. Judge Morris
acknowledged that one of Hawkins' claims, alleging
violation of the Stored Communications Act, does implicate
federal law. But because Hawkins did not actually own the
social media or email accounts in question, he does not have
standing to bring a claim under the Stored Communications
response Hawkins filed four objections. First, Hawkins argues
that Judge Morris's report and recommendation did not
address whether Hawkins had an ownership interest in his
LinkedIn account sufficient to create standing. Second,
Hawkins argues that he had a “personal reasonable
expectation of privacy in his company-issued” email
address. Objs. at 5, ECF No. 38. Third, he argues that
Defendant Richter's motion to dismiss is untimely and
should not have been considered. Finally, he faults Judge
Morris for not addressing his pending motion for leave to
amend. For the following reasons, these objections will be
overruled, Judge Morris's report and recommendation will
be adopted, and the complaint will be dismissed.
first objection, Hawkins argues that “the Magistrate
did not expressly look at whether Plaintiff's claim
regarding his LinkedIn account raised a federal
question.” Objs. at 2. But that is not true. In holding
that Hawkins did not have ...