United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR
PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#49]
Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge.
before the Court is Plaintiffs Cecilia and Sanford
Lakin's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 49.
Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment on Count IV of
their complaint, which alleges Defendants are liable under
the theory of promissory estoppel. For the reasons discussed
below, this Court will deny Plaintiffs' Motion.
action arises from a slip and fall incident that occurred on
March 15, 2016 at Flemings Steak House (Flemings). Dkt. No.
1, pg. 3 (Pg. ID 3). On this date, Plaintiff Cecilia Lakin
was dining with her husband, Plaintiff Sanford Lakin, and a
friend at Flemings Prime Steakhouse. Id. Mrs. Lakin
asked for directions to the bathroom, and a hostess led her
there. Id. at pg. 4 (Pg. ID 4). On the way to the
bathroom, Mrs. Lakin fell on what Mr. Lakin later identified
as spilled water on the ground. Id. at pg. 4, 6 (Pg.
ID 4, 6). Mrs. Lakin sustained various back, hip, and buttock
injuries that she alleges resulted from the slip and fall.
Id. at pg. 6 (Pg. ID 6).
March 16, 2016, Mr. Lakin received a phone call from Latonya
Joplin, who identified herself as a liability claims agent
with Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc. Id. at pg. 15
(Pg. ID 15). Gallagher Bassett was handling the incident for
Bloomin' Brands, Inc. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 17 (Pg. ID 183).
Bloomin' Brands, Inc. is the parent corporation of
Flemings Steak House. That same day, Ms. Joplin emailed Mr.
Lakin, stating that she would be handling the investigation
of the incident for Flemings Steakhouse. Dkt. No. 7-1, pg. 1
(Pg. ID 47). On March 28, 2016, she emailed Mr. Lakin,
stating, “We are going to pay for related and
reasonable medical costs along with pain and suffering to you
and Mrs. Lakin.” Dkt. No. 7-2, pg. 1 (Pg. ID 48). This
was the last time Ms. Joplin communicated with Mr. Lakin. On
March 29, Mr. Lakin wrote Ms. Joplin. Dkt. No. 7-3. His
letter stated, in part, “I take it by your statement .
. . that you acknowledge liability on behalf of Fleming's
. . . .” Id. at pg. 1 (Pg. ID 49). He also
provided information needed in order to give proper notice to
the Medicare authority as previously requested by Ms. Joplin.
Id. The Lakin's case was then transferred to
another Gallagher Bassett employee, Kenneth Ligotti, on an
interim basis in November 2016. See Dkt. No. 1, pg.
17 (Pg. ID 17). On the phone, Mr. Ligotti told Mr. Lakin that
Gallagher was acting on behalf of Bloomin' Brands, Inc.,
and that Gallagher was insured up to 1.5 million dollars.
Id. Mr. Ligotti also told Mr. Lakin that settlement
should be postponed until Mrs. Lakin completed all of her
medical treatment. Id. On February 21, 2017, Mr.
Ligotti wrote an email to a representative of Mrs.
Lakin's physical therapist that Bloomin' Brands, Inc.
was not accepting liability for the slip and fall incident.
Dkt. No. 7-5, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 53).
September 20, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their complaint against
several defendants. Dkt. No. 1. In count four of their
complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants are liable to
them under promissory estoppel. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 14 (Pg. ID
14). Defendant Gallagher Basset Services, Inc. filed its
Motion to Dismiss on November 17, 2017. Dkt. No. 14. On
January 8, 2018, Bloomin' Brands, Inc. and OSI/Flemings,
LLC filed a Motion of Partial Dismissal to dismiss count four
of Plaintiffs' complaint. Dkt. No. 24. On January 19 and
January 23, 2018, this Court denied both Motions. Dkt. Nos.
31, 34. On March 5, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the present Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 49. Defendants filed
their responses opposing the Motion on March 26, 2018. Dkt.
Nos. 54, 55. Plaintiffs filed their replies to both responses
on April 3, 2018. Dkt. Nos. 57, 58.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) governs summary judgment. The
Rule states, “summary judgment shall be granted if
‘there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter
of law.'” Cehrs v. Ne. Ohio Alzheimer's
Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775, 779 (6th Cir. 1998).
“All factual inferences ‘must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion.'” Id. (quoting Matsushita
Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986)). There is a genuine issue of material fact
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986)). Ultimately, the court evaluates
“whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
allege that they are entitled to summary judgment on the
issue of promissory estoppel liability. Dkt. No. 49.
Plaintiffs assert that this Court made “findings and
determinations” that “are binding upon the
parties for purposes of this motion.” Id. at
pg. 15 (Pg. ID 693). Further, Plaintiffs allege that the
factual assertions in Mr. Lakin's affidavit parallel the
requisite factual elements to prove promissory estoppel
liability. See Dkt. No. 58, pg. 3 (Pg. ID 904).
are four elements required to succeed on a claim of
promissory estoppel in Michigan. The elements are: (1) a
promise, (2) that the promisor should reasonably have
expected to induce action of a definite and substantial
character on the part of the promisee, (3) which in fact
produced reliance or forbearance, and (4) the promise must be
enforced to avoid injustice. Ardt v. Titan Ins. Co.,
593 N.W.2d 215, 219 (Mich. Ct. App. 1999). To support their
position, Plaintiffs rely heavily on this Court's
previous denials of Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, as
well as Mr. Lakin's affidavit. However, in its previous
orders, this Court has only ruled that Plaintiffs'
promissory estoppel claim is plausible. This Court has not
held that there are no genuine issues of fact regarding
promissory estoppel liability. Mr. Lakin's affidavit is
also insufficient to support a grant of partial summary
judgment at this stage. Although the affidavit lends support
to Plaintiffs' position, it does not resolve genuine
disputes of fact that still exist, as detailed in
Defendants' responses. None of the parties in this matter
have conducted or submitted depositions in this matter. The
only sworn statement is the affidavit submitted by Mr. Lakin.
Discovery does not close until October 22, 2018-leaving five
months of discovery still open. Dkt. No. 32, pg. 1 (Pg. ID
521). Therefore, it is necessary that the parties gather
considerably more evidence to support any dispositive
motions. See Ball v. Union Carbide Corp., 385 F.3d
713, 719 (6th Cir. 2004) (noting that it is well established
that there must be “a full opportunity to conduct
discovery” in order to successfully defeat a motion for
summary judgment). This Court concludes that there is not
enough evidence to support Plaintiffs' Motion. Further,
granting dispositive motions at this stage is premature.