United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
F. Cox United States District Court Judge
Counsel brought this case on behalf of three Plaintiffs, who
asserted twelve separate counts against nine different
Defendants. Several defendants and claims have since been
dismissed. The matter is currently before the Court,
following the close of discovery, on a Motion for Summary
Judgment filed by the remaining Defendants that seeks summary
judgment as to all remaining claims. The parties have briefed
the issues and Court heard oral argument on June 7, 2018. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court shall GRANT the motion
as to the remaining claims because: 1) the remaining
individual Defendants are entitled to absolute legislative
immunity for many of the alleged actions that form the basis
of Plaintiffs' claims; 2) the individual Defendants are
entitled to qualified immunity as to Plaintiffs' federal
claims; 3) Plaintiffs have failed to establish municipal
liability on the part of the Township; 4) Plaintiffs'
ethnic intimidation claims fail under the plain language of
the Michigan statute because Plaintiffs have not alleged, and
have provided no evidence to establish, that they suffered
injury to their person or damage to their property; and 5)
Plaintiffs' claims for intentional infliction of
emotional distress fail because, in response to the motion,
Plaintiffs have not even identified the conduct upon which
these claims are based.
through Counsel, Plaintiffs James Satchel, Robert Adams, and
Rod Merten (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed
this action on April 27, 2016. Plaintiffs filed the action in
federal court based on federal-question jurisdiction and ask
the Court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
state-law claims in this action. The original complaint
asserted twelve different counts against nine different
October 24, 2016, this Court granted a Motion to Dismiss
filed by Defendant Richard Horsch, and granted a motion for
sanctions, after Plaintiffs' Counsel failed to respond to
the motions or show cause orders issued by this Court. Thus,
all claims against Horsch were dismissed with prejudice back
Order issued on August 8, 2017, after a status conference
with counsel, this Court allowed Plaintiffs to file an
amended complaint, in order to amend allegations as to their
conspiracy claims, and allowed Defendants to amend their
affirmative defenses. In that same order, the Court allowed
Plaintiffs discovery as to the affirmative defense of
legislative immunity. Finally, that order dismissed without a
prejudice a motion for summary judgment that had been filed
by Defendants, and cautioned the parties that “any
future motions and responses pertaining to qualified immunity
must address each Defendant separately and include an
analysis on a claim-by-claim basis.” (D.E. No. 43).
filed a First Amended Complaint (D.E. No. 44) on August 10,
2017. Although Defendant Horsch had already been dismissed,
Plaintiffs' Counsel included claims against him in the
First Amended Complaint.
the stipulated dismissal of multiple counts and parties, the
following claims now remain pending in this action:
Count I, First Amendment Retaliation Claim (42 U.S.C.
1) Satchel asserts claims against Dayton Township and Cook;
2) Adams asserts claims against Dayton Township alone; and
3) Merten asserts claims against Dayton Township and Mocniak.
Count II, First Amendment Retaliation Conspiracy (42
U.S.C. § 1985);
1) Satchel asserts claim against Cook, Steel and Mocniak; and
2) Merten asserts claim against Cook, Steel and Mocniak.
Count IV, Racial Discrimination (42 U.S.C. §
1) Satchel asserts claim against Dayton Township and Cook;
2) Adams asserts claim against Dayton Township.
Count V, Conspiracy to Commit Racial Discrimination (42
U.S.C. § 1983):
1) Satchel asserts claim against Cook, Steele and Mocniak.
Count VI, Ethnic Intimidation (Mich. Comp. Laws §
1) Satchel asserts claim against Chris and Amanda Gusek; and
2) Adams asserts claim against Chris and Amanda Gusek.
Count VIII, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
(under Michigan law):
1) Satchel asserts claim against Cook, Steele, Mocniak,
Kilmer, Chris Gusek, and Amanda Gusek;
2) Adams asserts claim against Chris and Amanda Gusek; and
3) Merten asserts claim against Cook, Steel, and Mocniak.
(See Pls.' & Defs.' Stmts. at ¶ 3).
December 1, 2017, Defendants filed a new Motion for Summary
Judgment, that seeks summary judgment as to all remaining
Court's practice guidelines, which are expressly included
in the Scheduling Order issued in this case, provide,
consistent with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c) and (e), that:
a. The moving party's papers shall include a separate
document entitled Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute.
The statement shall list in separately numbered paragraphs
concise statements of each undisputed material fact,
supported by appropriate citations to the record. . .
b. In response, the opposing party shall file a separate
document entitled Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts. The
counter-statement shall list in separately numbered
paragraphs following the order or the movant's statement,
whether each of the facts asserted by the moving party is
admitted or denied and shall also be supported by appropriate
citations to the record. The Counter-Statement shall also
include, in a separate section, a list of each issue of
material fact as to which it is contended there is a genuine
issue for trial.
c. All material facts as set forth in the Statement of
Material Facts Not in Dispute shall be deemed admitted unless
controverted in the Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts.
(Scheduling Order at 2-3).
support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants
filed a “Statement of Material Facts Not In
Dispute” (“Defs.' Stmt.”).
response to that submission, Plaintiffs filed a
“Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts”
(“Pls.' Stmt.”). That Counter-Statement
contains 210 paragraphs and Plaintiffs' Counsel attached
65 exhibits to their response brief.
following facts are undisputed.
Township is a Michigan municipal corporation created pursuant
to and in accordance with the statutes and Constitution of
the State of Michigan. It is governed by a five-member
elected Board of Trustees consisting of a Supervisor, Clerk,
Treasurer, and two Trustees. Each is elected for a four-year
term. (Defs.' & Pls.' Stmts. at ¶¶
Cook is the elected Supervisor for the Township and has held
that position continuously from 2007 to present.
(Id. at ¶ 7).
Kilmer is the elected Treasurer for the Township and has held
that position from 1980 to the present. (Id. at
Mocniak was an elected Trustee for the Township from 2008 to
2012. Mocniak was appointed Township Clerk on August 4, 2014
and served until his resignation in May of 2015.
(Id. at ¶ 9).
Amanda Gusek is the Clerk for the Township. She was appointed
to that position on January 2, 2016, to fill the vacancy
created when (former Defendant) Stacy Phillips resigned as
Clerk. (Id. at ¶ 10). Defendant Chris Gusek is
Amanda's husband and he served as Deputy Clerk for the
Township from January 2, 2016 to the present. (Id.
at ¶ 11). Prior to January 2, 2016, neither Chris nor
Amanda Gusek held any elective or appointed office or
position with the Township nor were either involved in
Township government prior to January 2, 2016. (Id.
at ¶ 12).
Satchel was elected as Township Trustee in November of 2012.
Satchel served as Trustee until the date of his resignation
on January 4, 2016. Satchel is black and he resides in the
Shay Lake residential development in the Township.
(Id. at ¶ 13-14).
December 4, 2012, Satchel was sworn in as Township Trustee at
the Tuscola County ...