United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT SUZANNE T.
HALL'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt. 60)
A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Robert Trevor-Blair Davis, Sr., brought this lawsuit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against two municipal officials alleging
various violations of his constitutional rights. On June 29,
2016, the Court held that Davis's allegations concerning
Defendant Suzanne T. Hall's statements, although
“short on specific[s], ” were sufficient to
constitute a plausible adverse action for a First Amendment
retaliation claim. Davis v. Robert, 192 F.Supp.3d
847, 858 (E.D. Mich. 2016). Since that time, the record has
been supplemented by the depositions of the parties and
various union officials.
matter is now before the Court on Hall's motion for
summary judgment (Dkt. 60). Pursuant to the Court's
September 21, 2016 stipulated scheduling order (Dkt. 59), the
motion is limited to one issue - whether there is sufficient
evidence that Hall made statements constituting an adverse
action sufficient to give rise to a First Amendment
retaliation claim (Dkt. 61). This issue has now been fully
briefed, and a hearing was held on April 6, 2017. Because the
only admissible statement attributable to Hall is
insufficient to constitute an adverse action, the Court
grants the motion.
genesis of the dispute between Davis and Hall is adequately
set forth in the Court's decision denying Hall's
motion to dismiss. The Court now supplements that recitation
with relevant facts from the depositions that were
began his career with Michigan's American Federation of
State, County, and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME”)
Council 25 around 2003. Davis Tr., Ex. 1 to Def. Mot., at 8
(Dkt. 60-2). While Davis began his employment as a union
organizer, he was eventually assigned as a staff
representative to the Wayne County Airport Authority
(“WCAA”) Local 953 (“Local 953”) in
2012. Id. at 13-14. In his role as a staff
representative, Davis would handle grievances submitted by
union members, attend union meetings, and advise members on
any other work-related issues. Id. at 14. Davis was
also responsible for serving as the chief negotiator for
Local 953 as it tried to reach a new collective bargaining
agreement with the WCAA. Id. at 11.
addition to Davis, members of the union negotiating team
included Bradley Manley, then-president of Local 953, and
Nyota Ellis, a Local 953 committee member. Ellis Tr., Ex. 4
to Def. Mot., at 5 (Dkt. 60-5). During the course of
negotiations with the WCAA, Manley became increasingly
dissatisfied with Davis's participation. Manley Tr., Ex.
5 to Def. Mot., at 6 (Dkt. 60-6). Manley testified that Davis
would often fail to show up to negotiations, and when he was
in attendance, he was often on the phone or working on
personal matters unrelated to the negotiation. Id.
at 12. Ellis also testified to Davis's failure to
meaningfully contribute to the negotiations. Ellis Tr. at 6.
at the progress of negotiations, Manley approached Hall, the
chairwoman of the WCAA's board of directors, just prior
to a board meeting. Manley Tr. at 6. Manley requested the
support of the WCAA board in order to put pressure on the CEO
of the WCAA, Tom Naughton, to get a deal done. Id.
at 9. Hall informed Manley that, as a board member, she would
not interfere in negotiations, and that the matter should be
resolved with Naughton. Hall Tr., Ex. 3 to Def. Mot., at 13
(Dkt. 60-4). According to Manley, Hall added that Davis was
not “doing anything good for getting the contract over,
” which Manley understood to mean that Davis was
“not doing [Local 953 any] favors.” Manley Tr. at
11. While Hall remembers speaking with Manley regarding the
negotiations, she denies saying anything about Davis. Hall
Tr. at 14.
later, Manley emailed a letter to Al Garrett, the president
of AFSCME Council 25, which stated:
It comes with great sadness and regret to inform you that we
are hereby terminating Mr. Davis as our Staff Representative
for the following reasons.
1. Failure to show up on time or at all for [negotiations].
2. Failure to Prep or strategize with the [negotiating team].
3. Failure to follow through with requested ...