United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt. 27)
A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants Anthony Stewart and
Randy Franks' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 27). The
motion has been fully briefed, and a hearing was held on May
3, 2018. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion
William Smith, an African-American male, began working for
the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”)
as a Corrections Officer at the Detroit Detention Center
(“DDC”) on March 18, 2001. Compl. ¶ 13 (Dkt.
1). Defendant Anthony Stewart was the Warden of the DDC, and
Defendant Randy Franks was the Discipline Coordinator.
Id. ¶¶ 6-7. On April 26, 2014 - a Saturday
- Smith allegedly became involved in an argument with his
former fiancée, which led to police involvement. Def.
Statement of Material Facts (“SMF”) ¶¶
2-7 (Dkt. 27).
April 28, 2014 - the following Monday - the Detroit Police
Department contacted Stewart, the Warden at the DDC, to
inform him that Smith was allegedly involved in a felony.
Id. ¶ 13. MDOC Departmental Manager, Jimmy
Waters, also sent an internal memo to the deputy warden
describing the alleged incident and stating that the Detroit
Police intended to arrest Smith while he was at work.
Statement of Additional Material Facts (“SAMF”)
¶ 22 (Dkt. 32). Smith did not come into work that day.
SMF ¶ 15. The following day, Smith was arrested at his
home for felonious assault and taken to the DDC. SMF ¶
17; Smith Dep. Tr., Ex. I to Pl. Mot., at 70, PageID.1060
(Dkt. 32-9). At the DDC, Smith encountered his supervisor,
Shanequa Owens, and informed her that he had had police
contact. SAMF ¶ 49. Smith was suspended from work
without pay. Smith Dep. Tr. at 157,
allegation of wrongdoing triggers MDOC's disciplinary
procedures. An investigation is commenced to determine
whether the charges have merit, and the employee is typically
notified that he or she is being investigated. SAMF ¶ 1.
Following the investigation, MDOC schedules a disciplinary
conference with the employee to determine if there is enough
evidence to substantiate an allegation that is raised in the
investigatory report, and the employee will receive notice of
the disciplinary conference. SAMF ¶ 9. After the
conference, MDOC notifies the employee in writing of the
results and the disciplinary action to be taken or
recommended. SAMF ¶ 15.
Smith was detained at the DDC, Aaron Payne, an investigator
in MDOC's Internal Affairs division, came to speak with
him. SAMF ¶ 44. Smith told Payne to contact his
attorney. Id. Smith was later provided with a
questionnaire regarding his arrest. See Memorandum
re: Investigative Questionnaire: Internal Affairs
Investigation IA-14-12100, Ex. 5 to Def. Mot. (Dkt. 27-6).
The questionnaire asked whether Smith was arrested on April
26, 2014 for felonious assault and if yes, asked him to
explain. Smith wrote that he was not arrested on April 26,
2014. It also asked whether he reported his arrest, and to
explain completely and in detail; Smith replied, “I was
detained, at DDC.” The questionnaire asked about the
current status of court proceedings, which Smith provided;
told him to forward court documents to his personnel office
within seventy-two hours of the completion of his court
proceedings, which Smith stated he would do; and asked
whether Smith had any other information to add, to which
Smith wrote, “Attorney Byron Pitts” and a phone
investigation into Smith's arrest was finished on June
20, 2014. SMF ¶ 24. The investigation report concluded
that Smith appeared to have violated two work rules: Rule No.
5, Conduct Unbecoming, and Rule No. 38, Reporting
Requirements. SMF ¶ 25; Investigation Report, Ex. 6 to
Def. Mot., at 6, PageID.352 (Dkt. 27-7).
No. 5 of the MDOC Employee Handbook provides,
Employees shall not behave in an inappropriate manner or a
manner which may harm or adversely affect the reputation or
mission of the Department. Employees have a special
responsibility to serve as role models. Employees must also
support and uphold the law through their own actions and
If an employee is arrested for or charged with a criminal
offense, the behavior shall be investigated to determine
whether such activity violates this rule. Violation of this
rule is not contingent upon whether or not an employee has
been arrested. If the investigation establishes a violation
of this rule, whether it occurred on or off duty,
disciplinary action up to and including discharge may result
regardless of any prosecutorial action or court disposition.
Any conduct by employees involving theft shall result in
Employee Handbook, Ex. 7 to Def. Mot., at 20, PageID.356
(Dkt. 27-8). Rule No. 38 provides,
Employees shall timely submit accurate and complete oral and
written reports when required by Department policy,
procedure, post order or work statement, or when requested by
a supervisor or other authorized personnel. Failure to
provide reports that are accurate and complete is a violation
of this work rule.
Id. at 34, PageID.359. The employee rules also state
Employees shall provide a verbal report to their immediate
supervisor, or if unavailable to the next available manager
in their chain of command, within 24 hours after any felony
citation or arrest. This verbal report shall be followed up
within 72 hours with a written report by the employee to the
appropriate Deputy Director, Administrator or Warden.
Id. at 24, PageID.357. Employees are also required
to provide written reports to their immediate supervisor
within 24 hours after “any stage or phase of an arrest
or prosecution.” Id. at 25, PageID.358. The
investigation report stated that there was sufficient
evidence to support the allegation that Smith violated Rule
No. 5 when he was arrested for felonious assault, and
sufficient evidence to support that allegation that Smith
violated Rule No. 38 when he failed to notify his chain of
command in writing of his felony arrest, arraignment, and/or
court date(s). Investigation Report at 6, PageID.352.
21, 2014, a Notice of Disciplinary Conference was apparently
“produced.” SMF ¶ 33. There is no indication
that Smith received this notice: the employee signature is
missing, and an Employee Disciplinary Report dated September
8, 2014 is blank in the space provided for “DATE the
Employee was Served with a Written Notice of Charge, ”
see Employee Disciplinary Report, Ex. G to Pl. Resp.
(Dkt. 32-7). The Notice does not list a time or place for the
conference. See Notice of Disciplinary Conference,
Ex. 10 to Def. Mot. (Dkt. 27-11). Smith testified that he did
not recall whether he had received a Notice of Disciplinary
Conference, but believed that he did not “[b]ecause any
of the disciplinary conference I receive I usually sign
for.” Smith Dep. Tr. at 120-121, PageID.1072. The
Collective Bargaining Agreement states that the employee
“shall be given and be requested to sign for a copy of
the written statement of charges[.]” Collective
Bargaining Agreement, Ex. C to Pl. Resp., at 49, PageID.987
disciplinary conference was held on August 1, 2014. SMF
¶ 31. Smith attended the conference, along with a union
representative, Kenneth Gibson. Id. ¶ 35;
Record of Disciplinary Conference, Ex. 9 to Def. Mot. (Dkt.
27-10). Smith testified that he only knew to attend the
conference because he received a phone call from a union
representative within a week before the conference. Smith
Dep. Tr. at 121, PageID.1072. Smith also stated that, before
the conference began, Gibson asked for additional time to
prepare, but his request was denied. Id. at 111,
record of the disciplinary conference reflects that Smith
informed those present that the charge of assault less than
murder against him was dismissed. SAMF ¶ 37, Record of
Disciplinary Conference, Ex. K to Pl. Resp., at 1, PageID.363
(Dkt. 32-11). He further stated that his next court date
would be August 7, 2014, where he would be heard on charges
of two counts of felonious assault, felony-firearm, and
destruction of property of $20, 000. Record of Disciplinary
Conference at 1, PageID.363. Smith disputed the factual
allegations underlying his charges and alleged work
violations. SAMF ¶ 37.
conclusion of the hearing, Stewart determined that
Smith's behavior violated MDOC Rules 5 and 38, and
recommended that Smith be discharged. SMF ¶¶ 41-42.
On September 8, 2014, MDOC Discipline Coordinator Jennifer
Nanasy also decided to terminate Smith, SMF ¶ 43; Nanasy
provided an affidavit stating that she independently
determined that discharge was appropriate. Jennifer ...